Joe LaBay – Volunteer of the Quarter – 2nd Quarter 2022

By Don Farmer, NTMN Class of 2012, Awards Committee Interim Chair

Congratulations to Joe LaBay, NTMN Class of 2010, Nominated by Jim Folger, NTMN Class of 2009

He’s No Ordinary Joe

It’s not uncommon to hear someone or something referred to as being a “Joe” with the implication that they’re just regular, run-of-the-mill, or average. You’ve all heard it, Joe College, Joe Sixpack, Joe Cool, or even a cup of Joe.

Well, this quarter’s award winner, Joe LaBay, is not just average. You might say that he’s no Ordinary Joe even though he doesn’t go out of his way to advertise that fact.  

Joe carrying a ladder. Setting up for Native Plants & Prairies Day.

Joe working hard behind the scenes.

As Jim Folger noted in nominating Joe, “I have known Joe since he first participated in Native Plants & Prairies Day back in 2013. He has been one of those reserved but most commendable volunteers who was always willing to help out when it was needed. He volunteered his truck and his energy with loading and unloading tables and chairs and setting up for the event during the five years from 2013-2017. He has volunteered in numerous other venues and served on the annual Audit Committee. Joe is also a Master Gardener. As a valued member of the Goals & Research Committee, he has been helpful with providing perspectives on their operations.

In the simplest terms I would say: you can always count on Joe. The chapter is lucky to have had his participation for the last 13 years.”

And from Gary Barton, “I’ve volunteered with Joe as a Master Gardener and Master Naturalist for several years.  Joe is truly THE Master of Logistics for both programs.   You can count on Joe to lead set up and break down duties at most chapter meetings and events.  His unfaltering willingness to help others is what makes Joe – Joe.

Joe served on Silent Auction Committees for the TMN annual conference in the past.  In 2019 he served with me and fearlessly solicited local businesses.  He successfully obtained several high dollar items for the auction, increasing the amount raised for the TMN program.”

And from Brenda Catlett regarding this year’s NPPD, “Joe attended one of our last-minute planning meetings for Native Plants and Prairies Day and had lots of helpful information to share based on his experience with previous events. Since I had never been involved with planning this event before, his insight was quite helpful. 

I’d like to add that Joe was very helpful in helping us secure tables for Native Plants and Prairies Day. He offered up 8 tables from the Master Gardeners that we had not identified. It turned out that we needed every one of those tables. He graciously picked them up for us with his pickup and delivered them to the Bath House the evening before our event. He also helped with picking up additional tables from the For the Love of the Lake office. 

Group of volunteers at the welcome table at NPPD.

Joe (center) with other volunteers at Native Plants & Prairies Day

During the event, Joe was ever present, helping with putting up banners and setting up tables for exhibitors. At the end of the day, when Native Plants and Prairies Day was concluded, Joe was right there again taking tables down and loading his truck and others to return the borrowed tables. 

Joe was one of our key volunteers who really helped make Native Plants and Prairies Day a success.”

And finally from Connie Koval, ”You already have the accolades about his untiring work with transporting tables and setting up for every NPPD event at WRL.

His participation in the Financial Audit and report to the Board each year is precise and his presentation succinct. He doesn’t miss a thing, identifying areas for improvement and suggestions to resolve. His support at the Board’s annual planning session is invaluable.

Outside of board and committee work, he offers support and help to members whenever asked, from veggie gardening tips, container recommendations to help hauling things for those of us without a truck.

All in all, Joe is a treasure to us all.”

The NTMN Awards Committee is pleased to present Joe LaBay as the winner of the Volunteer of the Quarter for the 2nd Quarter of 2022 and present him with a REI gift card for $50 for being an “Extraordinary Joe.”

Footnote:  Is there someone that you would like to see being recognized for their volunteer service to the chapter? All you need to do is send an email to the Awards Committee at with their name, your contact information, and a brief description of why you think the chapter should recognize their efforts. 

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