ALPENA, MICH. – Each year NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries (ONMS) partners with the 14 sanctuaries across the country to recognize “extraordinary people who take time out of their lives for the betterment of America’s underwater parks.” Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary (TBNMS) is delighted that Alpena community leader Al Moe is being honored for more than 15 years of dedicated service to the sanctuary, serving both on the Friends of Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary board and the Sanctuary Advisory Council.
TBNMS established its volunteer program in 2005 and presented Betty Krueger, an exceptional community volunteer and philanthropists, with the 2005 National Marine Sanctuary Stewardship Award. In future years, the award became known locally as the “Betty Krueger TBNMS Volunteer of the Year Award” with Al Moe being the 15th recipient.
“Al Moe is a “dream-come-true” volunteer,” says Sanctuary Superintendent Jeff Gray. “He wants to be where he’s needed the most regardless of how difficult the challenge,” adds Gray. “Over the years, he has had a hand in nearly all the sanctuary’s education and community outreach efforts. We couldn’t accomplish what we do at the sanctuary without volunteers like Al.”
Moe has been a tremendous asset on many sanctuary initiatives over the years including the addition of hyperbaric chambers at the hospital, coordinating key aspects of regional and international underwater robotics competitions, representing Thunder Bay at the ONMS National Marine Sanctuary Foundation’s Recreational Fishing Summit, and advocating for newly proposed national marine sanctuaries in other Great Lakes states.
Moe says he got involved with the sanctuary early on recognizing its significant contribution to the region’s quality of life, education, and economic development. “We all win when it’s successful.”
“Over the past 20 years, I’ve watched a variety of top-notch professionals join the sanctuary team and give it their all, raise their families here, get involved in the community, and really make northeast Michigan their home. I enjoy the heck out of seeing the staff continually adapt, innovate, and expose our kids to cutting-edge technology, research, and career opportunities. I can’t imagine a more rewarding experience,” said Moe.
One of Moe’s most inspirational experiences as a volunteer took place in 2017. He stood watch for a 28-hour stretch as part of the safety boat crew as three “Stand up for the Great Lakes” paddle boarders made their way unassisted 90 miles across Lake Huron. The paddlers challenge themselves and nonprofits like the Friends to raise awareness and funding to protect the Great Lakes.
Most recently, Moe helped find resources for needed engine repairs to the Lady Michigan glass bottom boat. He also helped secure a major property donation to the Friends from The Nature Conservancy. He continues to work toward garnering support to develop the riverfront adjacent to the Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center for community water recreation and environmental education.
Prior to retiring from the former Alpena Regional Medical Center (now MidMichigan Health), Moe served as its Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. In addition to his service on behalf of the sanctuary, he continues to be an active leader in the community as a board member for Thunder Bay Community Health Services and past board member for the Alpena-Alcona-Montmorency Educational Service District. He also serves on the Alpena Harbor Advisory Committee and is a member of the Rotary Club of Alpena.
“The Volunteer of the Year recognition is an opportunity for NOAA and our nation’s 14 national marine sanctuaries to highlight shining examples of all the dedicated volunteers who are passionate about protecting our sanctuaries. Every one of Thunder Bay’s volunteers play an important role in advancing the sanctuary’s mission, said Superintendent Gray. If you would like to learn more about volunteering for the TBNMS, contact Mary Tagliareni firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also visit thunderbay.noaa.gov for more information.