To add variety to the blog and to offer a fresh perspective from our visitors, we are inviting guest bloggers to write posts describing their visits and thoughts while at the Reserve. This guest blog is brought to you by M.L. Christmas about our Volunteer Appreciation Night held December 8th. Read on to see the perks of being a DNERR Volunteer! Enjoy! (Johanna Hripto, DNERR Assistant Education Coordinator & Blog Editor)
Volunteer Appreciation Night 2016 was the latest opportunity for DNERR to roll out the lighted carpet, lay out an array of tasty food, unfurl the big screen, and to fête our loyal band of volunteers and their families.
A windy night in December was perfect for sharing in the warm, festive atmosphere of the Visitors Center at the St. Jones Reserve and basking in the glow of appreciation being extended by DNERR’s administrators.
Volunteers at DNERR, in 2016, donated a total of 4,516 hours of work. The display projected on the drop-down screen at the front of the room let us know that was the equivalent to $91,313.52 of effort!
We volunteers are a busy bunch, and not ones to sit still for long. So, what else do DNERR volunteers do, when we get together, except continue to think about the estuary! Educational “mixer” activities included a dune-grass planting exercise (using toothpicks and bins of sand, accomplished in teams), a horseshoe-crab-based challenge (with adorably cute, miniaturized, laminated cutouts), and a matching game using shorebird-species flash-cards.
A visual display on the topic of “Conservation and Stewardship,” prepared by Hasi Menghi (DNERR Conservation Intern) and Matt Krapf (DNERR Conservationist), and a fun mini-lecture/lab-demonstration about zooplankton, by Dr. Kari St.Laurent, containing a scientific nod to “Spongebob Squarepants,” further rounded out the evening.
If all of that weren’t enough, those in attendance were given a 15-minute PowerPoint pep talk, by Yours Truly, on the topic of the life-enhancing power of volunteering — and, with tongue planted firmly in cheek, the unusual thing John James Audubon and John Dickinson would seem to have in common. The presentation’s theme was inspired by Wild Season, by Allan W. Eckert, a remarkable book about the cycle of life, and how, in nature, one thing leads seamlessly to another. The same is true of volunteering!
During the formal recognition portion of the program, each volunteer was presented with a personalized certificate of appreciation and a DNERR-logo totebag containing a recent issue of DNREC’s excellent magazine, Outdoor Delaware, along with a subscription form (hint, hint! a terrific value); and at the end of the night, door prizes were distributed to those who happened to have a special sticker affixed to the underside of their chairs.
Overall, the evening was both fun and educational. How many places do you know that would feature horseshoe-crab shells, as part of a beach tableau, in each table’s centerpiece? Now that’s fine dining and entertainment, DNERR style!
Keep up the good work, everyone! Those volunteer hours do matter! See you again next year!
Text and photos by M.L. Christmas
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M.L. Christmas, MSM, is a freelance writer/editor living in the Dover area. She is a longtime member of Delaware Press Association and the National Federation of Press Women.