ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Some hardworking volunteers were recognized at Tuesday’s Rockford Park District Board meeting.

Twelve four-legged friends combined for nearly 160 hours of hard work in keeping the city clean over the past year. They have moved tens of thousands of geese.

It is not just chasing them away. They also help keep the city up to date on just how many of the birds there are.

“They’re always willing to answer the call if we need somebody to help move you to an event, so we just wanted to recognize them and what their dogs have done to help the park district,” said Faye McManus, who is in charge of the ‘Goose Management Program.’

The 12 dogs and 10 owners aid aided in moving nearly 18,000 geese last year.

“Sportscore has been a big hot spot for geese. We’ve moved geese out there,” McManus said. “I believe last year we moved over 8,000, and that was just volunteer work, that wasn’t staff. Volunteers moved over 8,000 last year out there.”

“It’s a wonderful bonding opportunity for the human and their dog partner,” added volunteer Arles Hendershott. “You get out in the fresh air, you get exercise. In our case, we had a border collie and border collies are insanely active. We could also practice basic obedience with her.”

“You know, the dogs need the exercise, I need the exercise. It’s a no brainer,” volunteer Libby Knopp said. “Geese don’t like dogs, and so we, you know, we have a good time.”

The program has been around since the early 2000s. More than 4,500 geese have been cleared in 66 hours of work just this year.

“We really wouldn’t be where we are without our volunteers. There’s no way we could move that many geese, for example, with just park district staff,” McManus said. “We really need a large group of manpower to be doing this consistently, because it’s not going to work unless you’re consistently doing it. That’s why I like, for example, Aldeen, and we have been the goose dog for the park district.”

More information on how to volunteer can be found on the Rockford Park District’s website.