Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Bandon Marsh NWR

Location:  Bandon, OR
Dates:  Apr-Jun 2009
Duties:  Although we were volunteering for US Fish & Wildlife, the duties were split between marine mammal and shorebird interpretation for the Shoreline Education for Awareness, and Snowy Plover Watch for Oregon State Parks.
Hours Required:  24 each/week
Bullards Beach SP SiteBecause Bandon Marsh has no RV sites, we were given a prime full-hookup site at Bullards Beach SP just outside of Bandon.  After a week-long training session, we began our duties by providing interpretation at observation points in Bandon and Charleston, along with two four-hour days at China Creek as “snowy plover hosts”. SEA Sign At the overlooks, we set up spotting scopes and explained to people what they were seeing, usually Common Murre and Tufted Puffin in Bandon, and seals and sea lions at Simpson’s Reed in Charleston.  While the snowy plover watch was a bit boring, the overlooks were always busy with people and we enjoyed sharing our knowledge.  The volunteer coordinator was outgoing and great to get along with, and she hosted a pot luck almost every week.Shell Island Sea Lions
Bandon is one of the prettier towns on the Southern Oregon Coast, with interesting shops and restaurants.  Eighteen miles north is Coos Bay/North Bend, the largest city on the coast, with plenty of shopping and restaurants.  There are plenty of places to visit and things to see in the area.
Brenda at China Creek
Contact Info:  Shoreline Education for Awareness, http://www.sea-edu.org/

Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge

Dates:  Apr – Sep 2008
Visitor Center 1 May_edited-1We decided to return to Lee Metcalf for another summer.  This time around, our duties changed a bit and we became the “face of the refuge”, a job we truly enjoyed.  We developed a “traveling road show” and gave evening Creamery Picnic4programs at area campgrounds and the Missoula KOA.  We also developed a “behind the signs” program, where twice a week we took people on a tour of the closed portion of the refuge and gave a class on duck identification.  We also worked in the visitor center when needed, and I continued some of my woodworking projects. 
The volunteer coordinator and staff were once again a joy to work with; however, the new manager was a distinct change from the former manager.  She did not include volunteers in any refuge activities, and seemed to think we were a burden rather than an asset.  Fortunately, we were able to avoid contact with her and have an enjoyable summer.
Snow on Mountain
Contact Info:  Bob Danley, Outdoor Planner  Ph (406) 777-5552

Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge

Location:  On the Texas Coast, near Lake Jackson.
Dates:  Nov 2006
Duties:  Environmental Education, Visitor Center, Office, Maintenance
Hours Required:  24 hours each/week
RV PadWe should have known there would be a problem when on arrival, we were told that we’d been “traded” from San Bernard NWR, where we had applied, to Brazoria.  The second clue was that we were the only couple in the 10-site “volunteer village” except for a couple that were permanent residents.  Pulling in to park, we were swarmed by mosquitoes, which were a constant problem.  Not just a few, but clouds of them. 
Students ArrivingThe manager was newly appointed from the Law Enforcement branch and was more interested in catching poacher than managing the site.  We were required to attend 7:30 AM staff meetings on our days on, and Brenda had to drive 18 miles to the “complex” headquarters to do menial office work, while I worked with outdoors on maintenance.  The environmental education program was outstanding, run by another volunteer group and not considered important by our manager.  We left after one month after the manager, after going on vacation, scheduled Brenda and I to work different days.
AlligatorThere is nothing positive to say about the area.  Mosquitos, fire ants, rattlesnakes, feral pigs, and alligators are common, and the large number of chemical plants in the area pollute the air with a noticeable odor.  Lake Jackson is a fair sized town with adequate shopping, 

Harris Beach State Park

Location:  Brookings, OR (just seven miles north of the California border)
Dates:  Aug-Sep 2007
Duties:  Conducting the “Junior Ranger” program for 6-12 year olds, and giving an evening program or nature walk.
Hours Required:  No set limit.  Junior Ranger program took about 15 hours per week
Angela & UsHarris Beach SP is a large state park on the Southern Oregon coast.  The host site was located near the office, in an area of trees and bushes, and had 30A service, which was adequate for this time of year.  Our Interpretive Ranger, Angela, was a joy to work for, always upbeat, incredibly knowledgeable, and appreciative of our work. RV at Harris Beach Working with the children was fun; we had a library of projects to select from, and tailored them to the type of weather; sometimes indoors, sometime outdoors.  Thanks to Angela, we learned enough about the area to conduct nature walks, and I developed a PowerPoint program on seals and seal lions for her use.  The park manager was interested in our activities and appreciative of our work. 
Harris Beach is located next to Brookings, which has a nice harbor, adequate shopping, and numerous restaurants.  Prices are a bit higher here since there are few routes over the coast range to the I-5 corridor, but not unreasonable.  There are lots of back roads to explore, and in the fall the blackberry and huckleberry picking is outstanding.
Arch Rock
Beach View West
Contact Info:  Angela Stewart, Interpretive Ranger, (541) 469-2021  http://www.oregonstateparks.org/park_79.php

Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge

Location:  Stevensville, Montana
Dates:  Apr – Sep 2006
Duties:  Visitor center, environmental education, light maintenance and woodworking
Hours Required:  24 each/week
New TributeLee Metcalf NWR was our first volunteer experience, for both us and the refuge staff, and for us it couldn’t have been a better start.  A friendly and appreciative staff, extraordinary supervisor, and an outstanding manager made our stay truly memorable.  The two sites built for volunteers were 30A only, but were upgraded during our stay.  The sites were in an area away from the maintenance yard, next to the “bunkhouse” where temporary workers were housed, and a washer, dryer, and large refrigerator/freezer were available for use.
Refuge SignLocated along the river in the Bitterroot Valley and surrounded by the Bitterroot and Sapphire mountains, the refuge is 2800 acres of ponds and woodlands.  There are hiking and nature trails, birdwatching, and fishing. 

Volunteer Photo2Our primary duty was to operate the visitor center on weekends, and spend the other day working on projects.  We were encouraged to select a project that interested us, and felt that we were members of the refuge staff. 

The area was full of things to do.  Missoula, with it’s vibrant downtown and university is 30 miles via four-lane highway, and Stevensville, a great example of small-town America is only three miles.  There are endless trails for hiking, great trout fishing, and excellent shopping in the towns throughout the valley.  Brenda Teaching
Refuge Pond View
Pond 8 View2
Contact Info:  Bob Danley, Outdoor Planner, http://www.fws.gov/leemetcalf/