By Sloane Shinn, Community Assistant
Volunteering is the
ultimate exercise in democracy. You vote in elections once a year, but when you
volunteer, you vote every day about the kind of community you want to live in.
- Marjorie Moore
|Collecting native seeds on the preserve.|
It was a chilly, wet and rainy winter morning in Sonoma
County. As I approached Pepperwood one recent Saturday, coming up through the fog line and turning the corner
onto the beautiful property, I was immediately met with a group of at least 30 people
scattered throughout the hillside at the entrance of the preserve – each one decked
out in rain gear, hats, hiking shoes – and each one diligently working the
landscape to replant native grasses, one of the main preserve management
projects at Pepperwood.
|Summer 2015 volunteer appreciation party.|
I slowed my car and rolled down the window. Celeste Dodge, Preserve
Technician, turned around and greeted me with a huge smile.
“I can’t believe this! “ I said. “Look at all these people!
What a turnout, even in the cold and the rain!”
“Isn’t it fantastic? We have a great crew today! Our
volunteers seem to be really motivated after the holidays,” she says. Celeste
manages our monthly Volunteer Workdays and has created quite a community of
dedicated participants over the past two years.
|Volunteers pose with grass starts at the Pepperwood shade house.|
“WOW! Amazing people power! Ok, I’ll see you in a couple hours up the hill
at lunch time.” As I drove slowly up the road, volunteers of all ages turned to
greet me with smiles and waves. The hosted lunch and Pepperwood Steward Flora’s fabulous
fresh-baked homemade cookies we provide for our workday volunteers will be
extra tasty and well-deserved today, I thought.
There are few things in this life that are more inspiring
than experiencing a group of people coming together for a cause greater than
themselves. As the Pepperwood Volunteer Program Coordinator, I witness this
dedication daily. In 2015, Pepperwood received over 7,400 hours of time donated
by 190 Stewards, citizen scientists and volunteers! Our volunteers assist in a wide-range of
areas – everything from pulling weeds, planting native plants and grasses, becoming
trained within our citizen science projects including climate monitoring, wildlife camera studies, phenology, and the Stephen J. Barnhart Herbarium, to
the very highest level of education and commitment – the Pepperwood Steward.
|Pepperwood Stewards help at an event.|
Pepperwood Stewards are a group of volunteers – most educated
with a background in biology, conservation science or as California Naturalists
through the Biology 85 course offered through SRJC every spring and fall. As
ambassadors to Pepperwood, Stewards provide support across all our programs including preserve management, research, education and community – sharing history and
knowledge during hikes, adult education classes and community events.
|Citizen scientists collect measurements from |
Pepperwood rain gauges.
But you don't have to make a Steward-level commitment to
have a meaningful impact at Pepperwood! Attending one of our monthly Volunteer
Workdays provides a great introduction to volunteering at Pepperwood. You'll
meet other community members, participate in land stewardship, and learn more
about Pepperwood's work including other ways to get involved through Citizen
Science projects, adult education classes and our membership program. The
Pepperwood community is thriving and welcomes people of all ages who are
passionate about understanding and protecting our land, water and wildlife.
Springtime at Pepperwood is a very busy season. We need
volunteer support now more than ever! If you are interested in learning more
about various ways you can contribute to sharing and spreading the mission at
Pepperwood – to advance science-based conservation throughout our region and
beyond – please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
with the subject line: Springtime volunteer. We are recruiting for various
projects and will be holding trainings in different areas over the next couple months.