At the Michigan Lighthouse Alliance Conference held May 15-17, 2016, in Traverse City, Michigan, Jeri Baron Feltner, Founding Director Emerita of the DeTour Reef Light Preservation Society established in 1998, was presented the Beacon Award by the Michigan Lighthouse Alliance. The Michigan Lighthouse Alliance, founded in 2003 and comprised of over 50 nonprofit organizations of lighthouse preservation groups from around the state of Michigan, shares technical expertise in several areas such as organizational development, community development, tourism, restoration and funding in addition to advocating for Michigan’s lighthouses. There are 129 lighthouses in Michigan, the most of any state in the U.S.
The Beacon Award is presented to an individual for their “Exceptional Leadership to the Michigan Stewardship Community.”
In presenting the Beacon Award to Jeri, Terry Pepper, Executive Director of the Great Lakes Lighthouse Keepers Association and Vice-President of the Michigan Lighthouse Alliance, shared, “I am blessed to have been able to visit many, many lights in the U.S., have met and gotten to know many of the movers and shakers involved in the restoration of these icons. They are many different types of people – some focus on the engineering and technology, others on the lives of the keepers, and others serve as the heart and soul – keeping the light of the organization shining brightly. It is my honor to know the recipient of the Beacon Award very well for many years. Jeri Baron Feltner, you are truly the heart and soul of your organization, the DeTour Reef Light Preservation Society (DRLPS), and I can think of no one more deserving of this award than you.”
Jeri’s key responsibilities as a Founding Director of DRLPS were the establishment of the DRLPS as a nonprofit organization and assisting in the development of the grant, membership, newsletter, marketing, fundraising, historical and administrative programs. Her vision, dedication, and administrative prowess, along with her passion for excellence, have provided the underpinnings of the achievements of DRLPS to restore and preserve the DeTour Reef Light Station located in northern Lake Huron in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Restored in 2004, the lighthouse offers tours and overnight keeper programs www.DRLPS.com. Jeri has also presented educational papers at five of the Michigan Lighthouse Preservation Conferences beginning at the first one sponsored by the State of Michigan in Lansing in 1998 on the subject of forming and sustaining a lighthouse preservation organization.
Jeri was very humbled by the Award, and in thanking the Michigan Lighthouse Alliance (MLA) said “I’m in shock over being presented this prestigious award and extremely honored and oh so forever grateful! Thanks with all my heart to Terry and all the members of the MLA. I deeply appreciate this most significant recognition. Keep up your wonderful work for the preservation of Michigan’s maritime monuments and the organizations that are preserving them. I am so proud and inspired by you all.
Prior recipients of the biennial MLA Beacon Award have been Senator Carl Levin (2012) and Richard L. “Dick” Moehl (2014).
The Michigan Lighthouse Alliance holds their biennial conferences to educate and inform the stewards of lighthouses, not only in Michigan, but across the country. This year’s theme was “Lighthouse Organization Excellence through Resilience and Change.” The next conference is planned for May 2018.