After such a strong showing in 2015, the October Volunteer Challenge is back for another year- and we're doubling the goal for volunteer hours! This program is a way of displaying our collective impact, showcasing the many facets of stewardship, and telling the stories of stewards working in public parks and on private properties. All of our work matters, and all of our stories should be told!
Thanks to all of our volunteers who participated in this year's challenge, we surpassed our goal with a total of 2,087.5 hours!
"Every 7th grader from Allendale Public Schools (220 in total) volunteered at Eastmanville Bayou to learn about how people impact their environments both in negative ways (as vectors of invasive species) and positive ways (as land stewards and advocates to the community)." - Melanie Manion
"I was raised with the love of nature but lived and worked in small towns and cities through my adult working life while raising a family of five children. Now I am retired and living in the country and find great joy in nature. I love learning about native plants and keeping busy with related projects--it helps to keep me sane while also caring for a husband with Alzheimer's Disease." - Karen Motawi
Every year through our Garlic Mustard Challenge, thousands of people can come together to dedicate tens of thousands of hours to invasive species management. This has had an incredible impact on our natural areas, removing hundreds of thousands of pounds of this invasive plant from natural areas over the past nine years. Using that program model as our launching off point, we'd like to paint the bigger picture of volunteer stewardship. We're asking all stewards to report their volunteer hours to the October Volunteer Challenge. Whether your time is spent collecting seeds at an organized workday or cutting invasive shrubs on your own property - we want to hear about it and count it towards our goal of 2,000 hours.
Stewardship isn't just cutting buckthorn, or planting milkweed, or counting bugs in a river to determine water quality. It's all of these things - and so many more - that positively impact the different pieces of our larger ecosystems. Pick the places and the projects that you care about the most and get involved!
We don't take part in stewardship just for nature's sake. We do it because of how we as individuals connect with nature. Why do you do what you do? Is it because you love looking out your back door and seeing a clear view of a lake? Is it because you have a great respect for the insects that we depend on to pollinate our food? Is it because you remember walking through these woods and fields with your grandparents and you want to preserve those places for their memory?
We want to tell stories of the human side of stewardship to help others feel that connection and get involved. Many hands make light work. Help us lighten the load by sharing your story.