August brought a team of 11 Americorps volunteers who braved wasps, communal living in our barn, and nearly 15 tons of debris to help enhance public access and experiences at the Great Bay Reserve.

A major focus of their work was bringing a new property online for the Reserve! Great Bay Farms Wildlife Management Area recently reverted to New Hampshire Fish & Game (NHFG) ownership through a life estate. Together with our Americorps volunteers, we cleared a  farmhouse, five apartments, a three-bay garage, a three story barn, and a cabin of debris, filling seven dumpsters. The task would have been  insurmountable for our small staff, but the volunteers tore through it and finished in four days. (Oh, to be young!)

Once the clean up was done, the group went to work, removing invasive plant species for New Hampshire Fish & Game (NHFG) and the town of Durham. They also removed debris from NHFG properties, planted gardens and improved access pathways at Great Bay’s Community Backyard Wildlife Garden and the Discovery Center campus. The efforts of the Americorp crew were mirrored by a  tremendous outpouring of support from the Reserve volunteers and the Great Bay Stewards.

 “There is nothing a group of motivated young people can’t do,” says Cory Riley, the manager at the Great Bay Reserve. “I knew that, but these two weeks have been such a powerful,  tangible reminder of the power of dedicated volunteerism. There is no way we could have made some of these things happen without them.”

Our Reserve “family” stepped up to provide hot meals, gym memberships, movie passes, games, and treats to make the Americorps crew more comfortable. No one on the team was from New England, and two had never seen the ocean before! We were thrilled that they got to experience New Hampshire in the summertime and grateful for the incredible effort and attitudes they brought to our organization.