I’ve never been a big proponent of New Year’s Resolutions. When I get excited about a new idea, or a new philosophy, or a new hobby, I want to start immediately and get incredibly frustrated when things like lack of daylight or normal business hours get in the way. It was always hard to step back and take a deep breath, and begin to plan ahead and set goals for a future period of time, but that’s what I’ve been doing since my first day as the Volunteer Maryland Coordinator at the Accokeek Foundation in October. I’ve been planning ahead for volunteering in 2013 and beyond, and I’m thrilled with what our plotting and patience has come up with.
Farm life can be so unpredictable—you never know when it will rain, when the cows will escape, when a hurricane will come and blow the plastic off your greenhouse, or when the brutal side of Mother Nature will visit you in the form of a chickenhawk. It’s hard for a farmer to look into the future and know what they will need the most help with and when, but help is certainly needed—volunteers are needed. We know that no matter what next year brings, our volunteers will be just as valuable to us then as they were this year. We know that our volunteers need a place where they can be respected and appreciated as part of the team, where they can put their skills and interests to good use, and where they can learn and gain while giving something back to the community. We’ve taken all of this into consideration as we’ve looked ahead to what volunteering at Accokeek will look like in the future.
In addition to the return of some of our favorite volunteer programs (Bluebird Monitoring, Stitch ‘n Time, and Green Thumbs), we’ve created new volunteer positions and opportunities on the Ecosystem Farm and the National Colonial Farm—a Winter Farm Assistant volunteer position that will be instrumental to the operation of our new Winter Farm Stand, a Colonial Farm volunteer position that will contribute to the capacity of our seed-saving program, and a Growing Season Ecofarm volunteer position that will help connect the food we grow on the farm to the local community. We’ve connected with Brandeis University in Massachusetts to host a group of Alternative Spring Breakers at the end of February, and it is our hope that we will see more Alternative Spring Breakers in the future.
As I think about what the next year at Accokeek will bring, I’m inspired to finally make a New Year’s resolution. In 2013 I resolve to connect with people. I resolve to bring people together around the vision of our volunteer programs—to preserve Piscataway Park and its natural resources while educating the community about history, sustainability, and environmental stewardship.
Wish me luck!
By Casey Lowe, Volunteer Maryland Coordinator