What do you say about the first month at new job in a new line of work? It’s been a whirl wind tour, a trial by fire, and all in all…quite awesome! Based on my education in Environmental Sciences, I had an idea what I was getting into, but had no idea how deep it went or how much I was going to enjoy it. From the minute I stepped in the door here at Clark County Public Works Parks Department, I was greeted with smiles and encouragement, as well as an expectation to learn quickly and produce right off the bat. I came in and quickly learned the lay of the land and the expectations of my position, and got right to it.
As it turns out, trying to make connections with, and build rapport with a reliable volunteer base is tough work. Fortunately my sponsor, Karen Llewellyn, has done a solid job of reaching out to the community over the last two and half years that she has been the Volunteer Programs Manager for the county. Working together, volunteer outreach is a major role of our jobs. Thus, one of our goals for this year is to expand this volunteer base into new avenues either not yet explored or those not being utilized to their potential. A key and virtually unexplored group that is part of every community is our service veterans. Recruiting this sector to get involved in community volunteerism and environmental stewardship is a major goal of my time with the VetsWork program.
My sponsor Karen and the rest of the staff here in the Parks Department are a great group of people and excellent to work with. There are only 8 of us that comprise the full time office staff for the entire county; quite a feat in itself. They are very intent me learning as much as possible and understand and encourage the fact that this program is designed to provide me as much new knowledge, skill and understanding as possible. There is of course field staff and crew as well, which I have met and work with regularly to coordinate needs for our volunteer events. Whenever I need a dumpster dropped to pick up debris or a port-a-potty for a weekend volunteer event, our parks managers and staff are on top of their game!
In the first month and a half I have been here, I have done my best to be engaged with as many people as possible. Nearly every weekend the volunteer program has an event of some sort; several of which I have hosted myself (the trial by fire I spoke of before). Leading and working with volunteers has proven fun and rewarding. I have learned from them and them from me, though I think they are on the losing end of this deal, especially the Washington Trails Association. I have had the opportunity to work with Ryan and a dedicated staff of skilled volunteers to develop my own trail-designing and building skills that I will pass along to others. The volunteers are always eager groups that have come out to take part in important community events. They care about their parks and community and come to socialize, mingle, and meet new people, and back it up with a little hard work. Whether we are simply spreading bark chips in the park playgrounds, repairing mitigation planting sites, repairing and graveling regional park trails, building new trails, removing invasive species or trimming trees at Foley County Orchard, the volunteers here in Clark County and Clark County Parks are making it happen and we enjoy doing it!