The Jamestown Audubon Center & Sanctuary has a goal for the upcoming Earth Day celebration - to recruit 50 new volunteers interested in giving back to the planet.
Twenty-five people have already signed up and you can help us achieve this goal. On Saturday, April 21, the Audubon will take part in hosting a Together Green Volunteer Day event, which is a result of a partnership with Audubon and Toyota, both focused on reducing energy use, protecting wildlife habitat, and improving water quality. The special activities we selected for this event are meant to be meaningful, inspiring, educational, in line with the missions of Audubon and Toyota, and even fun. Yes, you read correctly - fun! We will hand out awards to the team with the most invigorating spirit and the most catchy team cheer as well as individual awards. If you happen to fall into Big Pond and get covered in muck while scooping up water chestnut seeds, you just might win an award for the dirtiest volunteer - although you will have plenty of competition from other activities. If you bring with you the highest number of new volunteers, people who have never volunteered before at Audubon, an award awaits. You will leave the Audubon with a small token of our appreciation as well as fond memories of your efforts at making a difference. To top it off, we are also providing a healthy and wholesome lunch for all participants free of charge.
So what are some of the activities? Six stations are available, each led by an Audubon staff member including Jeff Tome, Katie Finch, Sarah Hatfield and Matt Abbey or by long-time Audubon volunteers including Barb Case and Denny Anderson. First up is the cleanup of an old farm site in one of our wetlands. Vast amounts of broken glass, pottery, metal, plastic, and other junk remain half-buried in the ground. Most items in the debris date back to the 1950s and may interest enthusiasts willing to teach volunteers about what they find that day. By cleaning up this site, volunteers will see immediate results from their efforts and will help restore this wetland habitat.
The farm dump cleanup during Audubon’s Together Green Volunteer Day on April 21 will involve picking up broken glass. Adults only for this task, please.
Next up is an opportunity for managing and controlling invasive exotics, which is attracting a lot of interest from new volunteers at the Audubon. We have a few well-known invasive species including water chestnut and garlic mustard. Two weekends ago, Boy Scout Troop 137 removed more than 7,000 water chestnut seeds from Big Pond and there are plenty more to remove. The seeds are fascinating in their appearance and design and are about the size of a quarter, but they are disruptive, especially in and along Big Pond. Garlic mustard, easily pulled by hand, is out of control in our arboretum. The initial attack on invasive species is intensive and sometimes tedious, but it is necessary for managing the survival and protection of native species. Controlling invasive species requires a disciplined maintenance program and volunteers can help us with this knowing their initial efforts and hard work are followed up on and maintained.
Although we will not be replacing invasive species with native plants on this day, we will be adding native plants to the sanctuary. We've ordered plenty of native shrubs and need your help getting them planted. When you visit the Audubon in the future, you can walk by your tree and know you left a legacy for future generations to enjoy. If you are looking for another way to get dirty, this may be your ticket.
Speaking of getting dirty, our next station is gardening. Our gardens are beautiful in all their glory and they are this way because of the dedicated volunteers who treat and care for the gardens as their own. We have several gardens awaiting rebirth and renewal and anyone can help, young or old. The resulting bright flowers, edible food and herbs, and the pollinators and species they attract are worth every second of your time.
The next two stations are a little bit different. One is offsite, though close by in walking distance and the other activity is indoors in the Nature Center. The first is our biannual roadside cleanup. The Audubon adopted a two mile stretch of Route 62 and regularly conducts cleanups in the spring and fall. I participated in the cleanup last spring. There were about 15 of us and it felt good to see us all together in bright orange vests dedicated and committed to a cause for the betterment of the environment. Our visibility alone set the quiet example. This is a feel-good activity that remains with you every time you drive by the adoption sign posted on Route 62, knowing you cared and took part to keep our area clean and beautiful.
Finally, just in case the weather outside happens to be turbulent or the bugs get to be really bad, we have an indoor cleanup activity complete with everything you ever wanted to know about where to order and how to use green cleaning products in your home or business. Your team leader has nine years of experience maintaining the Nature Center and he will share with you his expertise. You may even learn how to mix your own green cleaning solutions while you participate in a first-hand behind-the-scenes experience of what we do to keep our Nature Center up and running.
Your efforts here on April 21 will make a difference to yourself, others, and the planet. If you have not volunteered before and have been thinking of giving it a try, come down to the Audubon. You'll be glad you did. If you have gloves and tools, you are welcome to bring them. We also suggest wearing clothes you can get dirty in as well as wearing sturdy shoes, especially in the farm-site cleanup area.
For more information about Together Green, visit togethergreen.org or visit our site at jamestownaudubon.org. Registration begins at 8:30am. Groups split into teams at 9:00am and reconvene for lunch and prizes at noon.
Visit Audubon at 1600 Riverside Road, just off Route 62 between Warren and Jamestown. The center is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Sunday, 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. The trails and Liberty viewing area are available from dawn to dusk every day free of charge. For information about upcoming events, visit jamestownaudubon.org or call 569-2345.
Lynn Crossfield is special events coordinator and volunteer coordinator at Audubon.