Friday, September 5, 2014

Where was your favorite volunteer assignment?

We’re often asked which assignment has been our favorite.  There really isn’t an answer to that question.  I can list things I liked and didn’t particularly like from each place we’ve volunteered.  But, I can say that this is the first time I haven’t gotten “hitch itch” when it comes time to leave.

(Hitch itch - the overwhelming urge to hook up the RV and hit the road!)

What could be better than cool temperatures, clear blue sky, bright sunshine and a gentle breeze?  That is a perfect day, in my opinion.  We’ve had a lot of those kinds of days here.

We’re starting to pack things away and have noticed the other volunteers here on “Volunteer Road” doing the same.  Several of the volunteers have already pulled out but we volunteered to work at the upcoming annual WWII Veterans Reunion this weekend.

One of our tasks this year has been to monitor the Bluebird houses.  This was something new for us and was a lot of fun.  We saw everything from eggs, hatching, 1 day old, 7 days old, 14 days old and fledging.  
 Hatching Bluebirds

My final report shows that we fledged 116 Western Bluebirds, 30 Mountain Bluebirds, 26 Tree Swallows, and 27 Mountain Chickadees. We had 18 second nestings.  According to the ranger, this has been a record year.

Our main job this year was as Interpretive Hosts.  We held programs every Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights plus additional Jr. Ranger programs Saturday and Sunday mornings. 

Mark created several Jr. Ranger programs and they were very popular.  “Bring an Insect” was a big hit.  We should have called it “Bring a Critter” because the kids brought all kinds of things for us to identify, including this awesome Leopard Slug: 
 Leopard Slug
Yellow Douglas Fir Borer

This program was a lot of fun, the kids were so excited to show what they had found (even if it was a grasshopper). 

Another program that Mark started was “Paper Airplane Contest”.  We provided everything needed for making paper airplanes then the kids all got to fly in a flying contest.  There were lots of prizes - I think everyone ended up getting some kind of prize.  Mark came up with this fun activity late in the year so we only offered it once but we had about 65 kids, and their parents, participate.  I think the Dads had a lot of fun showing off their airplane making skills!

We had a nature hike every Sunday morning.  This was probably our least popular program but those that did participate always commented on how interesting and fun it was.
Counting tree rings.

Mark’s “Design a Nature Bag and Go on a Scavenger Hunt” program was one of our most popular.  We had lots of crayons, markers, stickers, rubber stamps, pipe cleaners - everything a kid needs to personalize their own nature bag.  After they got their bag just the way they wanted it, we gave them a list of things to find to put in it such as two different size pinecones, a soft leaf, something round (someone came back with deer poop!).  The kids took this task very seriously! 
Personalizing their nature bags before heading out for the scavenger hunt.

My final report shows the following program participation (kids and adults):  School groups - 533, Jr. Ranger - 908, Nature Hikes - 114, and our evening programs brought in 2189 folks!

I should have written more blogs because there is so much to tell about our summer programs.  Oh well, that will give me something to blog about next year!



  1. You are right. There really isn't an answer to that question. There has been only one place where I've almost been bored to tears. The rest all have very special memories. I'm looking forward to two new refuges this coming year.

    Looks like you had a lot of 'diamond' days this summer!

  2. Sure sounds like a "bonus" year to me! Not only lots of visitors, but y'all created such great activities for them. My kids, who are now in their 50's, still have great memories of their summers participating in the Junior Ranger Programs. We lived next to a State Park and the naturalist was terrific. I'm sure you two created lots of great memories for lots of kids!

  3. Sounds like you guys had some great kids programs going on. Very imaginative and fun. kids get such a kick out of outdoor activities! Sounds like the grown ups did too!

  4. Sounds like a great place to volunteer and to have good weather is a bonus.