Here at the Forest Society, we are so lucky to have a group of hardworking and passionate volunteers that help us steward our properties, clean up our public areas, and engage with the public. Here's a look back at everything we've accomplished together so far this spring and a special event in March where we thanked volunteers for all they do. We also thanked volunteers north of the Notch at our annual Maple Dinner last month - we appreciate everything they do to support The Rocks!
Volunteer Appreciation Event: March 2
It was a grey and drizzly Thursday when we welcomed our volunteer land stewards and easement monitors to the Conservation Center for awalk on the Merrimack River Education and Conservation Area and a gathering in the Conservation Center afterwards.
Senior Director of Education, Dave Anderson, led the nature walk and talk through the snowy trails of the Floodplains, stopping at points of interest to talk about their significance to the property and the organization: the beaver habitat in the wetlands, the “Haunted Wood” of planted pine trees, the banks of the Merrimack, and the mowed field.
Afterwards, staff and the 25 volunteers in attendance hiked back up the hill to congregate in the conference room for hot drinks and a presentation from President Jack Savage about the updates happening within the organization.
Craig Mabie, who volunteers at the Stillhouse Forest in Canterbury, said that hearing from Savage was his favorite part of the day.
“Being updated by senior staff gives you the big picture,” he said, “It shows how my contributions contribute to a greater force and movement.”
After Savage’s presentation, the volunteers and staff mingled in the conference room to chat and mingle.
Laurel Swope-Brush, the Land Steward and Volunteer Program Coordinator, enjoyed seeing the program members come together to celebrate their collective work.
“In a world where COVID has taken away so many opportunities to build a community, it is even more important now to host appreciation events for our volunteers,” she said, “We want happy volunteers who feel appreciated!”
Creek Farm Clean Up Day: April 4
On a rainy April day, volunteers and staff members met on the banks of Sagamore Creek to clean up the damage done by winter storms to the property of Creek Farm and prepare the facilities for the summer visitors.
“The winter on the coast was pretty rough this year,” said Creek Farm Education Program Coordinator, Sarah Kern, “Heavy snow [brought] down [tree] limbs and high tides [beat] up our dock and shoreline.”
In order to fix the damage, volunteers focused on rebuilding the dock, preparing the interior of the Education Center for use, clearing and mending trails and trail signage and, as Kern puts it, “beautifying and waking up the gardens around the Education Center.”
Ron Snow, the Manager of Individual Giving for the Forest Society, was a part of the Creek Farm work day and spent most of the day helping to repair the dock.
“It couldn’t have been a better day,” he said, “The group had an up-beat, positive attitude despite the torrential rain. We hammered the work out, and already it looks 100 times better.”
Snow would also like to include that by the end of the day, he had logged 12,000 steps on his workout watch.
Not only was the work day at Creek Farm a chance to get everything ready for summer, it was also a chance for volunteers and staff to come together, celebrate their collective work, and get to know one another.
When asked what the value of these workdays is, Kern said, “We come together, that is most important. We spend time with each other, we chat, we laugh, and enjoy each other. And boy, do we get stuff done, thanks to an incredible team that organizes it.”
Ron Snow says that this is his favorite part about these workdays. As a new employee, he gets to develop connections with volunteers and learn more about the work they do for the organization.
“It was great to meet all the members and volunteers there,” he said, “I got to talk to them about the organization, what they like about it and what we could be doing better for them. I made it my goal to get to know them.”
Both Ron Snow and Sarah Kern along with the rest of the Forest Society staff would like to extend our gratitude to all that joined us to clean up in the rain.
“Our Forest Society family is pretty amazing,” said Kern.
Conservation Center Clean Up Day: April 12
This Wednesday, a small group gathered at the Forest Society's Conservation Center in Concord for another volunteer cleanup day. Five volunteers were in attendance, plus six staff members.
The work focused largely on raking the lawns, clearing fallen branches from the grounds, cleaning out the window wells
of dead leaves, and ridding the entire front lawn of dead crabgrass. It was a beautiful day for some yard work.
“The best part of the workday was witnessing a new team of people work together to achieve some pretty big tasks,” said Laurel Swope-Brush, “It was as if they had been working together at many workdays before!”
The work days at Creek Farm and the Conservation Center mark the beginning of a busy field season at the Forest Society. With the warm weather, summer brings the opportunity to get outside and care for the Forest Society's properties across the state, either for trail work, trash pick-up, or facility improvement.
(LTR) Ron Snow, Laurel Swope-Brush and volunteer Melissa Howard rip crab grass out of the front lawn.
When asked what she is most looking forward to about the field season, Swope-Brush answered, “I am looking forward to building relationships with our volunteers and helping match folks with projects/events that make them feel good about the work they are giving their precious time to.”