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The Harry and Elsie Knighton Service Award

The Award consists of an individual plaque; publicity for the recipient and his or her local organization in NAMA’s newsletter; a one-year NAMA membership; and registration, housing and foray fees for one annual foray within the next three following years. When present to do so, the recipient of the award shall present the award to the next year’s recipient.

2020 - Sam Landes

Through his warmth, caring, friendliness, diligence, welcoming inclusive nature and genuine interest in others, Sam has helped create an atmosphere that welcomes new members and encourages existing members to participate actively and share their interests across the mushroom hobby spectrum. As a result, we have greater diversity of all kinds in our membership. Membership and meeting attendance have both more than tripled in size from 2010 to the present, with new members as far away as California and as young as eight years old. The Georgia Mushroom Club expanded with a growing satellite chapter in Athens, GA, as well as supporting events with our members who live in Auburn, Alabama. MCG also started leading day trips to and promoting activities of sister clubs.

Because he welcomes members personally, remembers names and faces, introduces members to one another if they have any commonalities, members feel appreciated and included and step up in many ways. A number of well-seasoned veteran mushroom club speakers have remarked on how seamlessly our club pulls together to get things done. And also how genuinely nice, interested and curious our members are.

Club Logistics:
Several times a year, Sam organizes and coordinates our Club Board meetings. They have been efficient, fun, productive and camaraderie-filled.

Each month for our club meetings, Sam coordinates and organizes the ‘nuts and bolts’ and physical logistics of our club meetings. Packing and then hauling AV equipment, books & magazines, display posters, snack equipment, water pitchers, fiber samples, and more from home to the meeting site. After arriving early to unpack, rearrange the room, set up the giant screen, projector and public address system, he starts greeting early arrivals. He also coordinates picking up and transporting speakers from city to city, facilitating our sharing of speakers with our sister clubs. This arrangement makes it much more affordable to invite speakers from far- flung parts of the country.

Through the years, Sam has helped increase the profile of our club and spread the knowledge of fungi throughout the greater Atlanta Metro area by presenting, often multiple times in a month, to garden clubs, master naturalists classes, nature preserves, libraries, homeschooling groups and more. Also through organizing and leading workshops in oyster bag and shiitake log cultivation. He has become well known for his entertaining, fun, informative presentation style.

Our club would not be where it is without his efforts, heart, organizational skills, logistical planning and diligence. The pleasure he‘s had with our local efforts has informed the work he‘s done on a national scale. A number of you may already know Sam because in addition to all his contributions to our local club, he served for 7 years as the NAMA Foray Committee Chair, providing both for regional and national foray locations, connecting, organizing, handling logistics, planning, registration, etc.

2019 - John Lamprecht

Members of the Minnesota Mycological Society would like to nominate John Lamprecht for the Harry and Elsie Knighton Service Award. John proudly serves our club and the greater mycological community with distinction. As we gathered a list of his notable characteristics and accomplishments: Representation, Communication, Dedication, Inspiration, Instigation, Origination, etc the suffix –ion appeared repeatedly. A loose definition of an Ion is “a charged atom or molecule that attracts others.” Indeed, John has been a positively charged force for our club. He transmits positive force to attract others to join and contribute. He propels us to new opportunities and success. He cultivates growth and community. Below are details describing how we feel John embodies the spirit of the Harry and Elsie Knighton Service Award:

Dedication – John has been a member of MMS for 10 years and President for four of those years. He attends and opens every meeting. Nearly every weekend through spring, summer and fall, John leads MMS hosted forays. Under John‘s leadership, MMS membership has greatly increased to almost 400 active members. Along with larger membership numbers comes larger logistical requirements. John has greatly improved foray safety and enjoyment. We now have a foray sign in and divide into groups that match members‘ speed and hiking abilities, as well as upholding the buddy system, so no one is ever lost in the woods alone.

Representation/ Communication – Honoring the educational mission of MMS and NAMA, John responds to frequent and numerous requests for presentations about fungi, including: MN State Fair, DaVinci Fest, Bioblitzes, Garden Clubs, State Parks and affiliate clubs. John enthusiastically promoted the MN/ WIS joint foray and encouraged members to participate for two years leading up to the annual NAMA foray in that location. Leading by example, he stressed the importance of learning about the area and was able to provide many of the foray leaders for the 2017 annual NAMA foray.

Inspiration/ Enthusiasm – John constantly rallies support from MMS members to join-in and inspires them to share their expertise and even step out of their comfort zone. He is a great speaker and communicator, both at the meetings and through our newsletter. His longtime baseball coaching skills have been beneficial to our club. John‘s booming voice commands the room, and he opens every meeting with the question – Who here is joining us for the first time? It can be intimidating to join a new group, especially one as unique and diverse as a mycological club. John makes a special effort to make newcomers feel welcome and part of the group.

Instigation/ Origination – On behalf of MMS, John created and maintains the education program for MN Wild mushroom harvesting certification. He recognized the gap in the education requirements and certification guidelines for the MN Dept. of Health/ Dept. of Ag. Wild Mushroom law and took action to develop a rigorous curriculum for species identification and testing of participants knowledge. John has been hugely supportive of the MN Mycoflora project, including allocating club funds for supplies, such as microscope maintenance and travel costs for participants.

Facilitation/ Mediation – Board meetings are helpful and productive. John doesn‘t hesitate to call his board to discuss topics pertinent to the club. His organizational skills keep us on track – he is the ultimate diplomat.

Recognition/ Commendation – John always remembers to thank others for their contributions. Our club is well rounded and engaged because of his enthusiasm. A recent list of presidential awards shows how seriously and thoroughly John takes his role as advocate for the club and for individuals. He recognizes skills and hard work, but also everyday people doing extraordinary things that contribute to the health and success of the organization. A good leader recognizes how important it is to share the journey and the praise.

2018 - Sister Marie Kopin

Sister Marie Kopin is the 2018 recipient of The Harry and Elsie Knighton Service Award. She has been a long serving member of the MMHC board, as Secretary and parliamentarian, volunteer positions that take up many hours. She also arranges and supervises used mycology book sales and also offers to lead children’s walks at our annual Fungus Fest. Marie annually leads at least six hunts inthe mid Michigan area which are open to the public. Sister Marie is the Isabella County Foray Leader from the Michigan Mushroom Hunters Club. She has taught mushrooming on several occasionsto both youth and adult groups. She has also authored several articles in Spores Illustrated, the MMHC magazine. Sister Marie has also authored several articles in the Michigan Mushroom Certification Project book (Midwest American Mycological Information) led by Chris Wright, PhD, Executive Director.

Sister Marie continues teaching at the Commission On Aging in Mount Pleasant, Michigan, doing a class in the Spring and Fall. Also, last year she worked on a class project with local Mt. Pleasant high school students and their teacher designing and producing t-shirts for our club. This spring, she and Heather Johnson presented an art class featuring mushroom designs on gourd birdhouses. She also arranges mushroom-themed art projects in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan.

She is the historian for MMHC and maintains the club records which are stored at Central Michigan University in Mt. Pleasant.

She is a retired clinical supervisor in the Department of Communication Disorders at Central Michigan University.

Sister Marie Kopin is a volunteer ‘Co-Steward’ of the Alta Warren Parsons Memorial Nature Sanctuary in Clare County, Michigan, near Farwell. It is owned and protected by the Michigan NatureAssociation (MNA), which has just celebrated its 60th anniversary of existence in preserving vital types of plants and wildlife areas of Michigan. Marie is a life member of MNA. The Michigan Nature Association is one of the leading associations in Michigan which sponsors workdays to remove this and other invasive plants.

Sister Marie Kopin‘s father was a friend of Dr. Alexander Smith, who founded NAMA with several other mycologists and amateur students. Sister Marie has attended many NAMA Forays and Board meetings. She and her father were original members of the Michigan Mushroom Hunters Club, founded in 1981.

2017 - Chris May

I am writing to nominate Chris May of the Arizona Mushroom Society for NAMA’s Harry and Elsie Knighton Service Award for Contributions to Amateur Mycology. Chris has taken the lead of the Arizona Mushroom Club, re-organized it as a fully functioning 501(c)(3) organization with a board of directors and committees, and has himself participated on a number of these committees, resulting in a broad variety of events and activities for families throughout the region. Chris’s untiring work ethic has also led to a greater focus on the identification and scientific knowledge of mushrooms throughout Arizona, including the funds to support the testing of morel species found throughout the state in 2016 (which was featured in the March/April 2016 NAMA newsletter).

Chris’s work with the Arizona Mushroom Society organization has resulted in a substantial spike in interest and huge increase in members and the involvement by those members in educational activities, forays, specimen collection for scientific inquiry, annual and educational meetings, and culinary events and activities. In 2016, the Arizona Mushroom Society led 4 morel forays throughout the state (2 led or co-led by Chris), and 3 other summer forays (1 led by Chris). Of the latter, Chris organized and led the Katey Johnson Memorial Porcini Foray, which resulted in funds donated to the family of Katey Johnson, who was an enthusiastic member of the AMS. Chris has also both led educational seminars about mushrooms himself and organized a number of others for mushroom society members to learn more about various mycological subjects from mushroom identification to small scale mushroom produc tion. In addition, educational lectures and talks have been coordinated with annual meetings to provide more opportunities for members to learn about general mycological principles as well as the unique mycological diversity of Arizona.

Chris has also contributed vastly to the identification and scientific study of Arizona’s mushrooms, which is an important contribution to the national and international state of knowledge regardingmycological diversity. Chris’s leadership in organizing and operating the annual Arizona Mushroom Society foray in 2016 led to the identification of over 150 species of fungi by amateur and professionalmycologists, including a number of species that had previously not been officially recorded in the state. In addition Chris played an important role in supporting the collection and funding the DNA analysisof morels found throughout the state, which has led to new information provided by Terri Clements on a number of new species of the Mochellaea family that were previously unknown from the area.

In summary, Chris’s efforts have provided a platform for people to learn about and experience the excitement and mystery of Arizona fungi. In addition to the specific efforts identified above, he hasfacilitated connections amongst those interested in mushrooms to enhance our learning and our ability to strive and obtain greater knowledge and understanding of our local fungi. He has provided acomprehensive website ( to provide up-to-date information on events, updates, committees, etc. He has also personally reached out, repeatedly, to both the new and curious and professionals alike to improve the diversity and involvement of people involved in both the organization and the joint effort to learn and love this special part of our world.

I hope you will consider Dr. Chris May for consideration for NAMA’s Harry and Elsie Knighton Service Award for Contributions to Amateur Mycology.

2016 - Richard Jacob

Richard Jacob is, and has been, very active as a club officer, mushroom walk leader, writer of newsletter articles, workshop and course materials, cook and photographer of the Western Pennsylvania Mushroom Club. In addition to all of these accomplishments, he has almost single-handedly made major contributions in three very significant areas.

To improve the club‘s image and communication, Richard undertook a major revision of the WPMC website ( He created new interfaces and easier access to club, regional and national activities. Using modern technology, he has brought the club into the 21st Century connecting to social media and blogs while preserving some of the traditional access to club news, calendars and adding educational material, previous lectures and courses.

He updated the decades old species list, with its outdated nomenclature and duplicate entries, by using a computerized program for documenting species collected on club forays and on the club’s species life list. This new system updates the most current changes in fungi nomenclature as well as preserving older, more familiar names. It also adds which species have confirming DNA sequencing. The program also allows or links to accompanying photos of the species from the local area taken by WPMC members rather than referring to stock photos on the web.

With his extensive background in proteomics, Richard introduced a process that can be used to field photograph a specimen, annotate it using scientific descriptions, and prepare a sample for DNA sequencing. This process is elevating the science of the Western Pennsylvania Mushroom Club from species identification by taxonomy to state-of-the-art DNA barcoding. Through his expertise, this WPMC program is recognized at a national level as a model for others to follow. He has worked with universitities and professional staff to have the samples analyzed and reported the results. At the2013 WPMC foray, he invited Rod Tulloss to focus on the identification of Amanita fungi, Based on this expertise, Richard was named Chair of the new NAMA Mycoflora Committee.

His infectious enthusiasm and willingness to share his extensive expertise has helped the WPMC reach a high level of professionalism while keeping the practical aspects of identification within everyone’s reach.

Richard Jacob’s service to the WPMC has been ‘value added’ in his dedication to new approaches to move the club forward. We offer this endorsement as support for his deserved recognition.

2015 - Cornelia Cho

In the short time Cornelia Cho has served as president of the Mushroom Club of Georgia (MCG), she has transformed MCG from a small, localized club into an active organization with diverse membership, regional influence, and national presence. Through her genuine interest in others and personal love of learning, Cornelia found intersections between club members’ skills/interests and areas in which the club could grow and turned the club into a group effort, praised people for their contributions, and nurtured enthusiasm, ownership, and community. Club activities grew in diversity and scope under Cornelia’s thoughtful leadership, and membership more than doubled in size with new members as far as California and as young as eight years old. Cornelia also forged relationships with notable leaders in amateur and professional mycology across the nation and continent, bringing their expertise to MCG.

With vision, intellect, and inclusiveness, Cornelia has led MCG through an incredible transformation in less than five years. Through her efforts, Cornelia is building a leading mushroom club in the region and a strong community of amateur mycologists in Atlanta and Georgia.

2014 - Dick Bishop

The Oregon Mycological Society has had many outstanding volunteers over the years, but one person really stands out. I am confident in stating that there is no one who is more qualified to be the recipient of the Harry and Elsie Knighton Service Award than Dick Bishop from the Oregon Mycological Society.

Dick has been a member of OMS since 1984 and has been a rock solid contributor for all of those years. He is a self taught amateur mycologist with an insatiable curiosity and a tireless willingness to help others learn about the wonderful world of fungus. As our education coordinator, he has taught countless beginner and intermediate mushroom ID classes, and can always be counted on to man the pre-meeting identification tables at our monthly meetings. Additionally, he is quick to volunteer to be a field trip identifier and is a regular contributor to the identification teams at both our Spring and Fall myco-camps. He has also been a featured speaker at our meetings… sometimes with short notice.

Dick is a member of the Pacific Northwest Key Council and has been instumental in developing the trial field key to Boletes, thus helping to increase the regional knowledge of mushrooms.

Dick is a smart, generous, helpful, dependable, and humble person who has spent the last 30 years of his life helping others learn about fungi. He is an incredible asset to OMS and I hope we can honor him with this award. He most certainly deserves it.

President’s note: When I phoned Dick Bishop to let him know he had won the award, he hesitated for a moment, then said, “You know, I already won that award back in 2005. If you want to give it to someone else, that would be OK with me.” Think about it, here is someone so valuable to his club that they nominated him, and he won, twice. That says a lot about Dick’s dedication and perserverance. Thank you, Mr. Bishop, for all you do for mycology.

2013 - John Dawson

John Dawson has been President of the Eastern Penn Mushroomers Club for the last ten years. John stepped in a President after the deaths of Helen Miknis and Suzanne Whittaker, both of whom were driving forces in establishing EPM. He helped the club through these times with grace and sensitivity. He stepped down this year but is still serving as meeting chairman, in charge of special events and winter meetings.

He wrote a President’s Message for each newsletter. Each of those messages carried significant information and helped keep the club informed, knowledgeable, and more in tune with the larger picture of the world of mycology. He also writes a “Who’s in a Name” series which teaches people about mycologists and others who have fungi named after them. This series of over 30 names has brought attention to EPM.

He has also been helpful to the community at large; as a frequent speaker at state and county parks, and helping with the bioblitz at King’s Gap Environmental Center when the ranger in charge became ill. He also managed to convince other members of the club to help. John has also helped local medical personnel to identify suspect fungi in possible poisoning situations. He has represented our club at sports shows and special outdoor events, constantly bringing our club into the public eye.

John attends most EPM forays and is very active in identification and helping others learns to identify fungi. He is very interested in many of the smaller species and other members often collect small things just to give him a challenge. After one foray this year, John took home some deer dung and cultured it, and managed to find three more species. He loves to take photographs of fungi and has supplied many photos for the club website. He is a frequent contributor to Mushroom Observer and NAMA photo contests.

John has served the club tirelessly in many ways. He and his wife have often hosted the club at their home for the annual ‘Tasting’ event. He has presented many interesting programs at winter meetings. He arranged for the club to have access to a local Preserve, where cabins could be rented for a foray, and is already planning another trip for members to the Preserve.

He has been active in NEMF and encourages all members to attend the larger forays present by NEMF and NAMA. He served as Registrar for this the recent NEMF foray in Pennsylvania.

2012 - Dianna Smith

Before Dianna Smith became enamored with mycology, she was well known in gardening and nature circles as a Master Gardener, a nature photographer and the producer of a weekly TV show on gardening and the environment. Wanting to create a program on fungi, Dianna took her first mushroom walk with the Connecticut-Westchester Mycological Association (COMA) about ten years ago. Her interest was so intense that she progressed from student to teacher in very little  time  and  soon  became  chief identifier for club. Prior to becoming COMA President six years ago, she served the club as Membership Chairman, Communications Liaison and Vice President. She has attended almost all of the club’s weekly walks, photographs the mushrooms found and includes the photos in a weekly write-up of the walk on a website created for club members. Hundreds of her photos have appeared in field guides by Michael Kuo, Gary Lincoff and others and in the smart phone application of the Audubon Society’s Field Guide to Mushrooms of North America. She also has produced over fifty professional videos of club events, for her TV program and for NAMA. 

 As Communications Liaison for COMA, she has been in constant contact with club members, providing reminders of upcoming walks and lectures. Her excellent organizational skills are apparent in her ability to get other members of the club to take on important jobs. She also regularly writes articles for the COMA newsletter and along with Don Shernoff, has been instrumental in helping to plan and run the annual four-day COMA Clark Rogerson Foray for the past several years. In addition, she served as a regional mushroom identifier for the Long Island and Westchester, NY poison control centers.

Dianna’s passion for promoting mycology among COMA members led her to develop an educational program entitled Mushroom University that has been meeting with Gary Lincoff for four hours each on six Saturdays every spring for the past seven years. Dianna assisted Gary, hosting most workshops at her home, providing her technical expertise and equipment for projection of Gary’s PowerPoint presentations, preparation of handouts, frequent e-mail to participants, as well as collecting, drying, boxing and labeling specimens for study. Each year, for the past seven years, they have chosen a group of mushrooms to study in depth. As a result of the course, Dianna and Gary fostered a group of knowledgeable walk leaders and identifiers. She also created an educational website called featuring the writings of Bill Bakaitis and topics covered in Mushroom University.

In 2010 Dianna was Chair of NEMF, the Northeast Mycological Foray, attended by 250 people. Ever more frequently, she has been engaged in outreach giving mycology seminars at Eagle Hill with Dr. Roz Lowen as well as mushroom lectures and leading walks for outside groups such as Audubon clubs, nature centers, and NY and CT state parks. With Sandy Sheine’s encouragment, Dianna joined the NAMA Education Committee a few years ago and her long annual report is filled with her contributions to mycology. She became editor of The Mycophile in January of 2012.

2011 - Ron Spinosa

The 2011 NAMA Harry and Elsie Knighton Service Award is presented to Ron Spinosa of the Minnesota Mycological Society. Ron Spinosa’s passion for mycology is evidenced by his continued service to the MMS, NAMA, local schools and nature centers as well as the medical community in Minnesota.

Without Ron’s hard work and dedication to the MMS, the club would not be as strong as it is today. Ron has been an active member for more than 20 years and a board member for the past 12 years, serving as president for four terms. Ron has been the editor of the MMS newsletter, ‘The Toadstool Review’, since 2006 and has written many original articles. He serves as the clubs primary mushroom identification expert on forays, at club meetings and when the general public submits questions. He has earned the President’s Award, Golden Chanterelle Award and the MMS Lifetime Achievement Award.

Ron has taken an active role in mushroom cultivation for NAMA since 2005. He has given presentations on cultivation at three NAMA forays and helped schedule speakers at two additional NAMA forays. He also founded the NAMA Mushroom Cultivation Group on Yahoo Tech Groups.

Ron leads up the MMS educational outreach program by serving on the State Fair committee each year and by giving talks and providing expert advice at schools, nature centers, plant shows, museums and even commercial garden centers. In addition, Ron helped create the traveling exhibit display and maintains a large specimen collection for use with the exhibit.

Finally, Ron serves a critical role in the community by being available to identify mushrooms for the Regional Poison Control Center. It is because of his dedication to so many areas of mycology education that Ron would be an excellent choice to receive the prestigious Harry and Elsie Knighton Service Award for 2011.

2010 - Paul Sadowski

The 2010 NAMA Harry and Elsie Knighton Service Award is presented this year to Paul Sadowski of the New York Mycological Society. Paul has been active in every aspect of the NYMS, not just this past year but for the past decade and more. He has served as the club’s treasurer. He organized and led a microscope workshop to instruct members on how to use a microscope to identify mushrooms. Paul runs a regular Monday evening mushroom identification session during the collecting season, now for almost a decade. He has also helped run Peck and NEMF forays, and designed and run a NYMS mushroom survey of a wildlife sanctuary. Paul also writes articles for the club’s newsletter, helps put together the annual club banquet, and is continually engaged in all club activities. Paul Sadowski is an ideal model for what aspiring future Knighton Service Award winners should be like.

2009 - Joyce Gross

This year’s Harry and Elsie Knighton Service Award winner should serve as a model for what all clubs should try to find and develop, a person who involves herself in as many club activities as she can, contributing her skills as a speaker, instructor, walk leader, mushroom identifier, photographer, artist, chef, administrator, business person, and club historian. In a club, such as hers, as rich as it is in enthusiastic volunteers, standing out among so high a level of accomplishment in the general membership, is an accomplishment in itself. In such clubs, enthusiasm is contagious, and the members, just doing whatever needs to be done, distinguish themselves by the high quality of their service. And this year, no one has distinguished herself more, or is more deserving of the Harry and Elsie Knighton Service Award than the Western Pennsylvania Mushroom Club’s Joyce Gross. Congratulations.

2008 - Brian McNett

This year’s recipient of the Harry and Elsie Knighton Service Award has served in just about every capacity his club has to offer. He is the Chairman of the club’s annual fall mushroom show. He leads introductory mushroom forays for beginners. He is also an expert mushroom identifier for the club at its shows, forays and meetings. He has spearheaded a study to identify and catalogue all the fungi of a local forest preserve. He co-founded the club’s mushroom cultivation group, which has successfully grown more than a dozen different kinds of mushrooms. He has been especially successful in club out-reach activities, attracting many new members for the club. He has also worked with school children teaching them how to cultivate mushrooms and cultivating in them an interest in fungi that may bring some of them into the club as members someday.

The recipient of the 2008 NAMA Harry and Elsie Knighton Service Award is Brian McNett of the Kitsap Peninsula Mycological Society.

2007 - David Work

This year’s winner has invigorated his club the past several years. He is currently the NAMA trustee of his club. He is also the club’s webmaster, chief photographer and chief chef. He gives mushroom lectures and slide shows that are very well received by his audiences. He also writes articles about mushrooms and mushroom forays that people have been praising for their wit and information. He organizes mushroom walks, and has successfully endeavored to bring whole families into the woods and fields in his area, a not inconsiderable achievement!

The 2007 winner of the Harry and Elsie Knighton Service Award is a member of the Mid-Hudson Mycological Association. His name is David Work.

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