MAY 7, 2011: Snowmobiling volunteer earns award

SEVERN RIVER — Snowmobiling enthusiast Blake Schofield has been recognized with the Outstanding Rookie Award by the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC) for his volunteer service with a local snowmobile club.

At 15 years, Schofield is one of the youngest members of the Snowcrest Riders Snowmobile Club and the youngest rookie award recipient out of OFSC’s 232 clubs in the province.

The Severn River teen started volunteering with Snowcrest in 2009 and added another 500-plus hours in 2010. Before he graduates from Patrick Fogarty Catholic Secondary School, he hopes to record 1,000 volunteer hours.

Schofield was selected as the club rookie of the year for 2009/10 by Snowcrest’s board of directors. The board then successfully nominated him for the OFSC District 7 rookie volunteer of the year award.

“Snowcrest Riders has never seen a young volunteer as energetic, enthusiastic and willing to learn all aspects of club operations as Blake Schofield,” Snowcrest president Bob Clarke wrote in his nomination.

It was a surprise for Schofield to later receive provincial recognition at the OFSC annual general meeting in September. It was a well kept secret for more than three months.

“I didn’t know I had been nominated for the award,” he said. “I was really shocked. I didn’t know what to say.”

Schofield fell in love with snowmobiling when he was 11 years old and after a one-day course obtained his licence to legally ride the OFSC trails when he was 12.

He is the only one in his family to take up snowmobiling and has saved his money over the past four years to be able to purchase multiple sleds.

Snowmobiling is his preferred winter activity.

“I used to snowshoe and toboggan and cross-country ski, but now I snowmobile with my friends every weekend,” he said.

Of getting involved with the Snowcrest club, Schofield said he volunteers his time because of the friends he has been able to make through the many activities.

“Definitely it’s the people,” he said. “I’ve met a lot of good people.” Before getting involved with Snowcrest, Schofield sold permits at a snowmobile show through the Volunteers in Action booth.

His volunteer work with the club is not just restricted to the winter months. In the spring and fall he has helped with signage and brushing, and helps through the snowmobile season with grooming the trails, staking the lakes, helping to sell permits, distributing trail maps, and reporting local trail conditions through online snowmobile forums.

He first got involved when the club was finalizing a section of the Top D trail surrounding the 240-foot Beaver Creek bridge that opened last winter.

He has participated in the club’s Easter Seals for Snowarama ride and raised $150 in pledges during the Prostate Extreme Team ride in Parry Sound last month.

Eager to learn more about snowmobile operations, he also saved up $200 from cutting grass to attend a workshop during the OFSC’s AGM.

“I want to stay with it,” he said of volunteering. “I would like to get more involved with District 7 and go to some of their meetings.”

At OFSC’s AGM, the Snowcrest club received four of the 12 awards. The club was also one of four nominated for OFSC’s club of the year award.

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