Like many of you, this has been a strange season for us…..we’ve been spending less time doing programs and welcoming the public, and more time working outside, completing backlogged maintenance and exhibit work, and getting organized in general. In some ways it has been refreshing to get those things done that are always pushed to the bottom of the priority list during busy seasons, but the absence of people has been strange and a bit sad….we miss the eager students, the adventurous visitors, and our dedicated volunteers! Since we have a very small staff, we rely heavy on our amazing volunteers, and since many of them are over 65 they are in a higher risk group, so with spring and summer programs cancelled and the exhibit room closed, our volunteers remained safely at home.
When the stay-at-home order expired in June we began some solo, outdoor, volunteer activities such as gardening and phenology, but group activities and programs are still on hold. We have been staying connected to our volunteers through Zoom chats, weekly email updates, and social media, but our volunteers are like family-they are very dedicated to the Reserve, and they love spending time with us and each other, so virtual communication just isn’t the same. Each summer we have a volunteer picnic, but it usually involves some indoor time, as well as a pot luck lunch-2 risk factors we just weren’t comfortable with. So, as NH became a bit safer for now, and as our volunteers became more comfortable with outdoor group activities, how could we have our annual volunteer picnic and still keep everyone safe?
Our newest property, Glenn’s Cove, is beautiful and it seemed like a great place to have a picnic and bringing volunteers there was also a great way to educate them about this Reserve property! This property has a long history of farming as well as housing soldiers, and was historically a great smelt fishing access point for Great Bay. Glenn’s Cove was purchased as a life estate by the Great Bay Resource Protection Partnership in the mid-90s. It was decided that the Reserve, as part of NH Fish & Game, was the right agency within the Partnership to manage the property. When the owner passed away last year, the property came under Reserve and F&G management. The Reserve already owned property on either side of Glenn’s Cove, and total these properties protect 139 acres along the east side of Great Bay in Greenland off of Newington Rd. From here the expanse of mudflats, saltmarsh, and open water create a beautiful, expansive, view, and on a clear day you can see the Pawtuckaway mountains, where the headwaters of the watershed begin!
The volunteer picnic looked a little different this year, with 2 picnics to keep groups small, an outdoor history lesson instead of board games, a bring your lunch instead of a pot luck and cookout, and social distancing instead of hugs and handshakes, but it was a great experience. The volunteers were so interested to learn about the property history, and were so excited to safely see staff and each other in person. We were also able to take a walk along the marsh to learn a little more about the ecology of Great Bay and get a little muddy! Great Bay NERR would not be who we are without the support and hard work of our volunteers, and we are grateful we are able to stay connected during this unpredictable time.
-Melissa Brogle, Volunteer Coordinator