Daily Local: Natural Lands Trust announces volunteer program
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
By SARA MOSQUEDA-FERNANDEZ
Natural Lands Trust has announced the launch of its “Force of Nature” volunteer training program.
The training program will serve as a way to properly educate and train participants to serve as both volunteers and ambassadors for the trust.
“For years we’ve had folks that wanted to volunteer with Natural Lands Trust,” said Kirsten Werner, director of communications for the trust. According to Werner, the program is a defined way in which to simultaneously harness volunteer capacity and give back to the community.
Volunteers will participate in five, three-hour-long training sessions where they will learn about topics such as tree care and planting, invasive species control, and trail maintenance. Each training session will feature a learning component and a hands-on service component, such as restoring trails or building nest boxes for bluebirds.
“The training will be run by a combination of individuals that are all staff members from our organization,” said Werner. She also said that the staff will largely be members from the land stewardship project, in charge of the day-to-day management of the nature preserve, and therefore capable of sharing information on a variety of projects, hands-on presentations and experience.
The program’s training sessions will be held beginning on Oct. 15 and will take place on the third Saturday of each month throughout March (excluding December). The first session will be held at Stroud Preserve on North Creek Road in West Chester.
Graduates of the program will be asked to dedicate at least four hours per month for a minimum of five months following their training. They will also receive Force of Nature gear, such as a copy of Natural Lands Trust’s “Stewardship Handbook for Natural Lands in Southeastern Pennsylvania.” According to Werner, the book is a comprehensive resource written by the organization on how to care for lands in the southeastern Pennsylvania area.
“We’re hoping that we do end up with a nice core team of Force of Nature graduates that will become regular participants on our preserve,” said Werner. “It’s a lot of land and it requires a lot of stewardship. Owning land is just one step in land conservation, and we need to restore the habitat and improve the land for both people and wildlife. The more people out there, the better our goals will be achieved.” Werner said that while the preserve has skilled staff members, their time is limited, and the hope is that graduates of the Force of Nature program will aid them.
Natural Lands Trust owns and manages 40 nature preserves, which total almost 21,000 acres of land. They also hold conservation easements and other restrictions on over 19,000 acres.
“We’ll take as many wonderful applicants as we can get,” said Werner. “We’ve had a great response to the announcement of the program so far and a few individuals are in the process of filing out the application.”
Anyone interested in participating in the program can apply online by visiting www.natlands.org/volunteer, or can call or e-mail Natural Lands Trust outreach and membership manager Angela Michie at email@example.com or 610-353-5587, ext. 266. The fee for the program is $135, which includes a membership fee to Natural Lands Trust for the program’s graduates. The deadline for applications is Oct. 4.
“Volunteers have always played an important role in helping Natural Lands Trust preserve and steward the land, water, and wildlife of our region,” said Molly Morrison, president of Natural Land Trust. “Our new (program) takes volunteerism to the next level and is a great opportunity for participants to receive high quality, hands-on training on caring for natural resources, while also giving something back to the environment.”