Rep. Lois Capps, center, with Paul Petrich and his wife.

Rep. Lois Capps, center, with Paul Petrich and his wife.

Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, on Wednesday congratulated Goleta resident Paul Petrich on being honored as the 2013 National Marine Sanctuary Foundation Volunteer of the Year for his volunteer work with the Channel Islands Naturalist Corps.

“I’m thrilled that the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation honored Paul Petrich as its National Volunteer of the Year,” Capps said. “The Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary is a local and national treasure, and volunteers like Paul are one reason why. He has gone above and beyond to expand and enhance outreach efforts, reaching hundreds of visitors every year aboard commercial vessels, at the Channel Islands and at a variety of community outreach events. Paul’s commitment and passion for the Channel Islands are inspiring and we’re fortunate to have him in our community.”

Capps, the co-chair of the bipartisan National Marine Sanctuaries Caucus, met with Petrich in her Washington, D.C., office prior to the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation’s Leadership Awards Dinner on Tuesday.

Since 2006, Petrich has donated more than 4,000 hours of his time to supporting education, outreach and maritime heritage programs for the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. He has worked to strengthen local partnerships, including with state and national parks, and has made significant contributions to marine conservation and stewardship as a biologist, teacher, naturalist and historian.

He has increased the organizational prestige and reputation of the CINMS and Channel Islands Naturalist Corps volunteer program.

The NMSF Volunteer of the Year Award recognizes a National Marine Sanctuary System volunteer who has made outstanding contributions to their local national marine sanctuary during the 2012 calendar year. The CINMS nominated Petrich for the award.

— Ashley Schapitl is press secretary for Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara.