Santa Barbara resident Paul Petrich Jr. is the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation’s 2013 Volunteer of the Year for his exceptional contributions to the maritime heritage and outreach programs of the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary.

He was recognized Tuesday with fellow honorees Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse and Dr. Jane Lubchenco at NMSF’s 2013 Leadership Awards Dinner in Washington.

Petrich has been volunteering with the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary since 2006. He is a retired high school teacher with the Ventura County School System.

Petrich’s extensive photographic and historical documentation of his family’s personal experiences on the waters of the Channel Islands, including with the shipwreck Del Rio and the San Pedro fishing industry, have helped sanctuary staff to preserve the area’s history. As a member of the Channel Islands Naturalist Corps, Petrich is an ambassador for the sanctuary who encourages hundreds of visitors each year to visit and learn more about the Channel Islands.

The Channel Islands Naturalist Corps won the Department of the Interior’s “Take Pride in America” award for best volunteer program in the federal government in 2011. NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries (ONMS) volunteer programs received this award two years in a row. Nationally, volunteers contribute more than 100,000 hours annually to the National Marine Sanctuary System in the areas of research, monitoring, enforcement, education and outreach, and management advisory.

The awards dinner is held in conjunction with Capitol Hill Ocean Week (CHOW®), Washington’s premier ocean-focused conference. CHOW 2013 will take place June 4-6 at the Newseum and bring together policymakers, industry leaders, academics, scientists, and conservationists to shape marine policy and provoke conversation about critical ocean and coastal issues.

CHOW 2013 and the Leadership Awards Dinner are made possible by the generous support of sponsors, especially the Pew Charitable Trusts.

— Shauna Bingham represents the NOAA Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary.