Sunday, November 22, 2009

Volunteers – Selah’s Invaluable Asset

Volunteer – A person who undertakes some task of service of his own free will . . . to offer oneself willingly.

To me, this Webster Dictionary definition doesn’t go far enough to define a volunteer. It doesn’t mention they work without financial reward, nor the fact that personal expense usually is involved, and that time for family is given up. It doesn’t describe the person’s qualities, their personality and character. It doesn’t do justice to the volunteers I’ve known. It doesn’t say they are America’s unsung heroes.

I contend that America cannot function successfully without volunteers! So much is given to our society by volunteers, that is accepted by our society, but not recognized by our society.

We see organizations functioning, serving us: such as hospitals, hospice, Salvation Army, parks, conservation and environmental groups, Boy and Girl Scouts, schools and many, many more. All of which could not do what they do, what we respect them for – without volunteers.

Here at Selah, our volunteers range from 18 to 80! We could not function successfully without them. They serve as teachers, trail guides, food servers, Master Naturalists, Master Gardeners, Native Plant specialists, engineers, carpenters, animal rehabilitators, first aid givers, truck and trailer drivers, tree and flower planters, interpreters, rock and stone movers, trail builders, dish washers, house cleaners and on and on and frankly, just about anything that needs doing.

These are members of an Austin organization called The Trailtamers. We’re just one of the places they give time to. Sometimes turning out twenty-five members. They, at their own expense, spend a week in some national park across America. Photograph taken by J. David.

Joanna Rees, volunteer, a gardener at her own home near Austin, spent the day “stepping up” seedlings from four inch to one gallon containers. Photograph taken by J. David.

Steven Fulton, Ranch Biologist, with volunteers, Joanna Rees, Sarah Pierce, Tyler Porterfield. They had spent the day working around the greenhouse. Photograph taken by J. David.

On a Sunday evening in November we had a Volunteer Appreciation Dinner party at my ranch house arranged by Colleen Gardner, our Executive Director. Every volunteer got a big hug from Colleen! Photograph taken by Lois Sturm.

Lynda and Dave DeGroot, long time volunteers. They exchanged their wedding vows here on Selah a number of years ago. Photograph taken by Lois Sturm.

Three volunteers with diverse skills were at the party. Kathy Wilson, Linda Vincent and Susan Hamm. Photograph taken by Lois Sturm.

Marsha May, a full time biologist at Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, has volunteered here for many years organizing birders from all parts of Texas to do our three annual bird counts. Photograph taken by Lois Sturm.

David Matthews, a teacher at Small Middle School in Austin, with his wife Rita. David volunteers at Selah and has brought hundreds of his students to Selah for overnight learning. Photograph taken by Lois Sturm.

We have a tendency to think that members of a Board of Directors are big mucky mucks that live in big houses and are a part of our economic system isolated from the masses ~ not true, as you see here at a board meeting held at the ranch house, Sunday November 15, 2009. Board members, too, are unpaid volunteers who give their personal time and particular expertise to give direction and oversight to the Preserve. It is required by law to have a Board of Directors, a majority of whom cannot be related to me. Photograph taken by Lois Sturm.

After our meeting, the Board visited the homes of Preserve employees to get familiar with these assets that are on the Preserve’s balance sheet and to meet the families who carry out our mission. This is the home of our Ranch Operations Manager Scott and Melissa Grote and their two children Grey and Willow. Photograph taken by Lois Sturm.

Another view of the Grote house. Photograph taken by J. David.

The newest home was built in 2009 for Justin and Stephanie Duke. Justin Duke is our Ranch Steward. This is the only house on Selah equipped with a rainwater collection system. Photograph taken by Lois Sturm.

Another view of the Duke house. Photograph taken by J. David.

Our Ranch Biologist Steven and Amanda Fulton and their son Aiden live here. This location gives Steven access to the greenhouse and the shop. Steven is not only a biologist, but also a horticulturist and a skilled carpenter. Amanda teaches biology in the Blanco Schools. Photograph taken by J. David.

In the past ten months of writing this blog, you have seen the many education programs we do for kids and adults. Won’t you please support this with a yearend tax deductible contribution? We are a 501(c)(3) private operating foundation. You can send your contributions to: Bamberger Ranch Preserve, 2341 Blue Ridge Drive, Johnson City, TX 78636.

No comments: