TWC simply could not run without our volunteers. Every person has something special to give, whether that be planting trees, serving beer at a fundraising event, or serving as a student liaison for their school. Each year, hundreds of volunteers donate their time to TWC in the form of restoration, event planning, science, monitoring, and outreach.
When we asked volunteer Heather Chapin, Why would you encourage others to volunteer with TWC?, she replied:
It’s 10am on a Saturday morning. The clouds break over a small, wet woodland. A red-winged blackbird calls from the summit of a cattail. An all-age line of smiles traipses into the reed canary grass carrying twenty times as many shrub stakes as volunteers. In no time at all, everyone has seen a couple of hawk, herons, and ducks. The sun beams down on a group examining an owl pellet. A dead possum is carried off the trail to higher ground. Live stakes to the tune of 500+ are planted. In a few years many of us will be drawn back to the sites where we worked to see how they are doing. It is impossible not to care for these wetlands after working together with the community to improve them.
As Mary Oliver said, “What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” I say… “This.”
Heather Chapin (aka Hummingbird Heather) is one of our most dedicated volunteers, and we are excited to announce that she is our first Wetland Steward of 2015! As a Wetland Steward, volunteers attend 3 restoration events and complete one other needed task. In Heather’s case, she attended all of our restoration events and has also served as our event photographer for the winter season. If you’ve been following us on Facebook and Instagram, you’ll certainly recognize her beautiful photos!
Heather is also the co-chair of the Green Mission team at the Greenway Whole Foods, and was able to bring her team out to volunteer at a restoration event at our Hart wetland site near their store in Tigard. Heather is an energetic, engaged, and inspired individual, and we couldn’t be happier to have her. This spring and summer she will continue her work with us from a scientific angle helping to complete our ecological and hydrological monitoring, and plans to provide lots of support in other ways.
Heather has a colorful past, having graduated from WWU in Bellingham, WA, where she explored her love of natural history, water, and snow, birds and ethnobotany. One of the most formative experiences for Heather was studying tropical biology and cultures in Belize for six weeks in 2011. There, she completed a three day observational study of Agami herons, contributing several photographs to Cornell’s Neotropical birds website. She dreams of working where her passion and education collide.
We asked Heather to tell us a little more about her experience as a TWC volunteer.
Q: What are your duties as a TWC volunteer?
I’m a crew leader, photographer, and restoration ecologist. I inspire people to learn, smile, and engage in nature while restoring vital wetland habitat. I also capture the breadth of the experience behind the lens!
Q: Why do you volunteer with TWC?
I am enamored by all the diversity that evolution has created. Wetlands are the most biologically productive and diverse lands on the planet. The desire to immerse myself in these lands led me to the TWC. The warmth, positivity, and generosity of the staff sold me on total commitment. They are all an inspiration!
Q: What have you gained from your experiences with TWC?
I have gained confidence in my leadership and teaching abilities with the public. It is easy and fun to work for wetlands and inspire people to fall in love with these precious lands. I have also found a trajectory with respect to my work.