Roll Up Your Sleeves and Let’s Get to Work!
by Jennifer Schlick
In 2013-2014, almost 9,000 people came to the Nature Center to attend a program or event. Another 1400+ came because of a rental. Our guestbook was signed by almost 3,400 people. We don’t know how many people came to walk or ski the trails without stopping inside to sign the guestbook. And 240 people visited the Nature Center specifically to volunteer. Some of these people may have come for one 3 hour shift. Others show up every Tuesday and Thursday, if they are able. Some like to volunteer only in spring. Others prefer the fall. Some like to be outside, others indoors. All told, these 240 people reported over 11,500 hours of labor.
Volunteers are needed throughout the year, but once a year, we hold a very special Volunteer Day. On Volunteer Day, it’s hard to tell staff from volunteers. Everyone rolls up their sleeves and gets to work on projects large and small. Because we work rain or shine, we get wet one way or another – from precipitation or perspiration! And after all the hard work, we sit down to lunch, relaxation, and team reports.
We try to pick a Saturday that is close to Earth Day. This year, the Nature Center’s Volunteer Day will fall on Saturday, April 18, 2015. We’ll gather at 8:30 for registration and team assignments.
If you enjoy the smell of garlic, you might pick the Garlic Mustard Team. Garlic Mustard is a non-native invasive weed that is edible, but also detrimental to our native plants. It spreads rapidly, grabbing up the nutrients, and leaving behind chemicals that our native plants can’t tolerate. Members of this team are welcome to take their harvest home, search the internet for a recipe, and gobble it up.
Those interested in wearing stylish orange safety vests can join the Roadside Cleanup Team. The Nature Center has adopted a section of Route 62 and we do a clean-up twice each year – one in spring on Volunteer Day and another in the fall.
Have you ever heard of a “Playscape”? We’ve been itching to build one for quite some time. Think playground – but all natural, with plenty of loose parts for building imaginative structures. One of the elements we would like to build is a willow tunnel. What? Yes! A tunnel made from living willow trees. The Playscape Team will be planting little saplings (pending acquisition) and clearing some of the undergrowth to make room for other structures.
I typically hear the most laughter coming from the Gardening Teams. Teams? Yep, teams. We have several gardens in front and another garden out back and all need a bunch of TLC as we head into spring. (Gardeners are needed throughout the summer! Could you spare an hour a week?)
Not all the details are worked out yet. There are rumors of a Trail Blazing Team… We’ll also need a Lunch Crew – a team to set up for lunch, prepare & serve food, and clean up after.
During lunch, teams will give reports. How many pounds of Garlic Mustard do you think we’ll pull? What is the weirdest trash item that will be found along the roadside? How many willows does it take to make a tunnel? Did any of the teams get muddier than the gardeners? To find out, you have to attend!
We are grateful to Cummins Engine for funding that not only covers the cost of supplies, but also allows us to provide lunch and small gifts for each participant. It is a fun day that leaves everyone with a real sense of accomplishment. I hope you can join us.
Call the Center at (716) 569‑2345 or visit https://jasprograms.wordpress.com/apr/volunteer-day/ to register, so we know how much food to buy! If you can’t make it on April 18th but think it sounds fun to volunteer at the Nature Center, please call or stop down. We’d love to match your interests and skills with a rewarding volunteer job.
The Nature Center is located at 1600 Riverside Road between Jamestown, New York and Warren, Pennsylvania. For more information call (716) 569‑2345, or visit http://jamestownaudubon.org,
Jennifer Schlick is program director at the Nature Center and will be visiting all teams to get photographs! So wear your best grungy clothes and your broadest smiles.