Columbia Springs has experienced a successful, robust, and busy spring this year. As we are ending our field trip season, closing the Salmon in the Classroom fish release events, and saying farewell to the (rainy) planting season – we want to take a moment to celebrate our volunteers!
We are honored by the many volunteers who have given hours and energy towards our programs, including our education programming, site maintenance, capital improvement projects, our large events, outreach, Salmon in the Classroom, and more! Collectively, volunteers have given over 2,250 hours so far this year. That’s amazing! Don’t think so? Just remember that each employee here has only worked ~920 hours this year! But, you may be wondering, what exactly are our volunteers doing at Columbia Springs?
In our education program, Volunteers help chaperone elementary school field trips visiting our natural area. The volunteers provide support to the instructor, allowing the instructor to wholeheartedly engage with the students. Volunteers also work with students in small groups to help them learn about different ecological topics, such as macro invertebrates, decomposition, or water quality. Without volunteers, our field trips would not be nearly as fun (or safe) for the students! Volunteers also play an important role in our Salmon in The Classroom program by helping with in-school programs (like fish dissections!), developing new curriculum and activities, and helping all of the classes release their baby coho salmon into local streams.
Our Lead Volunteers help guide large work groups through stewardship and restoration events. For instance, this year we joined forces with Keller Williams and hosted a 77 person service event at our site (it was a blast, by the way). With the help of our Leads, these participants performed projects such as planting trees and bushes, adding wood chips to our trails, beautifying our entrance, caring for the Lewis & Clark Native Plant Garden, and more! Lead Volunteers also join us at our site on their own time to help care for the 100-acre natural area. Recently, we’ve had Leads help us by removing ivy, blackberry, and other invasive species along the Heron Loop trail. The work the Volunteer Leads help us complete makes the park pleasant, safe, and beautiful for all of our visitors.
Our Volunteer Docents act as our very own park rangers and lead park visitors through guided tours. This year, our guided tours have become even more popular! Docents answer questions, interpret our natural area, and help orient park visitors so that they feel compelled to visit us again. If you haven’t been on a guided walk yet, I highly encourage joining us for one!
(2nd Wednesday every month, 5:30 – 6:30)
All of our volunteers are invited to help us with our outreach events and special events. Volunteers have joined us off-site at Get Outdoors Day, the Camas First Friday, Arbor Day, Home & Garden Idea Fair, Vancouver Farmers Market, and more. In addition, we hosted the most well-attended Kids Fishing Festival yet! With over 270 children participating in the event, we counted on volunteers to help us run a smooth event. Complete with activities, music, a BBQ, and lots of happy smiles, this year’s Kids Fishing Festival was fun for everyone that participated!
One more example – volunteer crews from organizations such as Hewlett-Packard, Vancouver Rotary Club, and Clark College help us complete projects and restore our natural area. This spring, volunteers from different organizations in Clark County planted 648 trees and shrubs in our East Biddle Restoration area! Hewlett-Packard joined us in May to work on two major projects at our site. Volunteers re-surfaced our Wetland Platforms to make the area ADA Accessible. These platforms are used by our field trips to engage students in the importance of macroinvertebrates and water quality – and now, students who use wheelchairs can join their classmates! HP volunteers also helped us beautify and landscape our Visitor’s Center, which will be opening to the public this summer.
Special thanks to all of the volunteers who have given their time to us so far this year. There are so many organizations vying for your time and we appreciate that you choose Columbia Springs!