Volunteerism-A Beginning of the Return to Normal
In many ways 2020 seems like a lost year, and in fact when many of our staff say ‘last year’ we are thinking of 2019. The Research and Stewardship programs were able to continue almost as normal, and the Coastal Training Program shifted to online trainings. The Education program shifted to take-home activities and social media posts that helped educate the public and encourage outdoor exploration. But what about volunteers?
The bulk of our volunteers help with our place-based education programs and also staff the exhibit room. Since we did not have school programs in 2020 and did not open the exhibit room, we had only about 15% of the volunteer hours we would have in a typical year. However, volunteers were eager to help and to stay connected, and so they helped us with some of the early Grab-N-Go kits for kids, and participation in our phenology program and gardening increased! We also began a new program, Horseshoe Crab Heralds, where we had a volunteer naturalist at the waterfront during spawning season. Luckily, in many ways and with the help of vaccines, 2021 began to return to normal, or at least a new normal…we opened the exhibit room in June and we welcomed back many of our volunteers over the summer. It was so uplifting to see their smiling faces, and to feel their eagerness! So far this season volunteers have donated almost 1,600 hours of their time helping with gardens, phenology, field research, stewardship workdays, summer kids programs, and welcoming 1,800 visitors to the exhibit room since June!
Soon we begin our fall school programs, which are strongly supported by volunteers and we are excited to welcome students back to the Discovery Center property. While things are still not ‘back to normal’, we have been happy to see that slow changes are happening this year. We know that like many of you, we need to take things one day at a time, but we are so appreciative of our volunteers and their contributions to Great Bay NERR!
-Melissa Brogle, Volunteer Coordinator