Volunteers Help Wounded Manatees

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(Photo by Robert Barossi)

by Robert Barossi

From birds who fly into city skyscrapers to animals hit by vehicles while crossing the street, volunteers are often part of the rescue and rehabilitation of wildlife. In Naples, Florida, volunteers took part in the release of manatees recently rehabilitated and deemed ready to return to the wild. Hopefully, this story will have a better end result than another recent story, out of Alabama, where a rescued manatee died before it could be released back into the best area for its survival. While there was a tragic end to that story, it does highlight again the role that volunteers played in both spotting the manatees and assisting local agencies in rescuing and rehabilitating them.

If you’ve enjoyed any of the stories on this blog, check out my eBook, Being Where You Are: How Environmental Volunteers Impact Their Community and the Planet Every Day.

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Volunteers Up and Down the River

IMG_2855(Photo by Robert Barossi)

by Robert Barossi

Sitting here in the middle of a blizzard, it’s nice to think of a warm day in spring, walking along the banks of a river, watching the tranquil current as it makes its way downstream. Maybe it’s the Tennessee River, a 650 mile-long river in the southeast United States that makes up the largest tributary of the Ohio River. If I happen to be sitting on the shore of the Tennessee this spring, I might also see a barge float by, a barge that also happens to be a floating classroom. This traveling classroom will be teaching lessons about conservation and cleaning up the river as it makes its way from Knoxville, Tennessee to Paducah, Kentucky, over twenty-two days. It’s all part of a program spearheaded by the organization Living Lands and Waters. According to the organization’s website, the “Tennessee River Tour” will be “partnering with cities, government agencies and other conservation groups to host educational workshops, river cleanups, tree plantings and other conservation activities.” This unique program gives volunteers in a number of locations a chance to participate in environmentally beneficial programs while seeing firsthand just how much debris is in the river, since the trash pulled out during cleanups will be collected and carried on the barge. Providing that kind of visual evidence of what’s polluting our waterways is a great idea and one which would be helpful in many of our important rivers.

If you have enjoyed the stories on this blog, check out my book, Being Where You Are: How Environmental Volunteers Impact Their Community and the Planet Every Day.

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Volunteers Rehabilitate Island Forests

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(Photo by Robert Barossi)

by Robert Barossi

Recently, I posted a story about volunteers planting trees in northern California, in an effort to protect and improve the forest and its ecosystems. In that post, I mentioned that this type of work happens all over the world, in vastly different places. Today, a story from an island nation off the coast of Africa demonstrates that point. The Republic of Seychelles is an archipelago made up of 115 islands, lying approximately 1,000 miles east of southeast Africa, in the western Indian Ocean. On one of the islands, an organization is working hard to rehabilitate and replenish the lush forests which have become largely barren, due in part to invasive species. The Terrestrial Restoration Action Society of Seychelles, a non-governmental organization which works with a number of volunteers, is working to plant new trees, including native species, on Praslin, the second-largest island. This work, along with the organization’s other projects, will go a long way toward rebuilding, protecting and preserving the environment of this tropical island and its forests.

If you have enjoyed any of the stories on this site, check out my eBook, Being Where You Are: How Environmental Volunteers Impact Their Community and the Planet Every Day

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Volunteers Successfully Work to Stop a Coal Mine

Rocks in Still Water(Photo by Robert Barossi)

by Robert Barossi

Right now, there are environmental volunteers working to stop the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline from snaking across our country, form Canada down to the Gulf of Mexico. Here in New England, there was a similar effort to stop a natural gas terminal from being built on the shore of Narragansett Bay. That effort’s victory came in part from all the tireless work of many volunteers, especially those who worked with Save the Bay, an environmental organization based in Rhode Island. These kinds of volunteer efforts happen all the time, around the world. This story out of Illinois describes another victory, this time for area residents who formed a group called Canton Area Citizens for Environmental Issues. These dedicated and passionate volunteers worked for eight years to stop a coal mine from being built in their region. It’s an exciting success story that demonstrates how an organized group of citizens can make their voices heard and have a real impact on what goes on in their backyard. And how they can protect the natural environment from destructive forces brought by industries such as coal mining.

If you’ve enjoyed any of the stories on this blog, check out m y book, Being Where You Are: How Environmental Volunteers Impact Their Community and the Planet Every Day.

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Volunteering in All Kinds of Weather

IMG_0620(photo by Robert Barossi)

by Robert Barossi

Recently, I posted a story about a couple of volunteers in New Jersey who showed up in frigid temperatures to pick up trash. Today, there’s another story about New Jersey volunteers who did not let weather stop them from doing important environmental volunteer work. This time, volunteers showed up in the rain to clean an area along the Jersey shore, just south of Atlantic City. The South Jersey Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation led the effort in Ventnor, where even the mayor pitched in and helped out. This great event proves again that dedicated volunteers will not let bad weather stop them from helping their community and the planet.

 

If you have enjoyed any of the stories on my blog, I hope you’ll consider downloading my eBook, Being Where You Are: How environmental Volunteers Impact their Community and the Planet Every Day:

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Volunteers Help Land Recover After Wildfires

Up a Tree(Photo by Robert Barossi)

by Robert Barossi

According to the USDA, the Station Fire in August of 2009 was, “the largest fire in Los Angeles County’s recorded history, burning a total of 161,189 acres – or nearly 252 square miles.” All these years later, the recovery effort is still ongoing and volunteers are right in the middle of it. This story out of the San Gabriel Mountains focuses on the important work volunteers are doing around the area of Big Tujunga Creek and Canyon. One of the major ramifications of the wildfire was that it opened the door for a takeover by invasive species. These invaders have moved in and caused serious problems, including the fact that they drain so much precious water from the land. One major aspect of the volunteers’ work is the removal of these water-draining invasive species, a much-needed effort  when California is dealing with severe drought.  Volunteers are also rebuilding or moving trails that were damaged in the fire and collecting acorns which will be grown into trees and replanted in the area to replace some of those which were lost in the fire. As the climate changes, wildfires may become more frequent and more destructive. If that happens, this kind of volunteer work may unfortunately become more and more necessary and common.

Click here for more information on Big Tujunga and its importance to the Los Angeles area.

If you’ve enjoyed any of the stories on this blog, please consider downloading my eBook, Being Where You Are: How Environmental Volunteers Impact their Community and the Planet Every Day:

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Two Volunteers Against the Cold

IMG_0455(photo by Robert Barossi)

by Robert Barossi

In a recent post, I mentioned that I was finding lots of volunteer stories from southern California and other sunny climates. Of course, even in the frigid winter months, volunteer work is essential and necessary, regardless of how low the mercury drops. This great story out of Vineland, New Jersey, features two volunteers who showed up for the Vineland Environmental Commission’s monthly volunteer day. Due to temperatures that dropped into the teens, the event got a much smaller crowd than usual. Still, these two dedicated volunteers arrived at the event ready to take on the cold and the litter that was lining the road along Bennett’s Mill Nature Area.

If you have enjoyed any of the stories on my blog, please consider downloading my eBook, Being Where You Are: How Environmental Volunteers Impact Their Community and the Planet Every Day:

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Volunteer Master Naturalists

065_8A(Photo by Robert Barossi)

by Robert Barossi

Many organizations offer training programs for their volunteers. Often in conjunction with colleges, universities and/or state agencies, volunteers receive training and education in a number of relevant areas. I recall one volunteer I interviewed for my book talking about a chainsaw class, which would become useful for clearing downed trees from trails in the woods. This great story out of Minnesota describes one of the more extensive training programs that I’ve come across, the Minnesota Master Naturalist Program. Offered jointly by University of Minnesota and the Department of Natural Resources, the program has been active since 2005. Enrolled students get forty hours of classroom training as well as books and field trips, with classes offered throughout the state and focusing on the three major ecological regions of Minnesota. After taking the program, which does cost a fee but financial assistance is available, new Master Naturalists take their knowledge and talents to a wide variety of places, performing many different kinds of volunteer tasks. More information about the program can be found at the official website, minnesotamasternaturalist.org.

If you’ve enjoyed any of the stories on this blog, please consider downloading my eBook, Being Where You Are: How Environmental Volunteers Impact Their Community and the Planet Every Day.

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Volunteer Tree Planting

Up a Tree(Photo by Robert Barossi)

by Robert Barossi

Surprising to nobody might be the fact that all the volunteer stories I’m coming across today are from California, where the weather is warm and sunny. Here in New England, winter has finally arrived, with temperatures in the teens and single digits. Still, there’s no doubt that volunteers in this area are still out there, testing water quality, checking trails and keeping up with their important activities. For now, a look at one of those Californian volunteer tales, this one from Sonoma County in northern California. Volunteers are working with the group Forest Unlimited to plant redwood seedlings in an effort to “enhance and protect forests and watersheds.” The organization, which plants trees in a number of areas, makes sure that the new trees are placed in areas where they will survive and thrive, ensuring a positive ecological impact. While not always so carefully targeted, tree planting is an important task that volunteers or anyone else can easily take on no matter where they live.

Check out Forest Unlimited’s website for more information on their events and activities.

If you have enjoyed any of the stories on this blog, please consider downloading my eBook, Being Where You Are: How Environmental Volunteers Impact Their Community and the Planet Every Day. It’s available on:

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International Environmental Educator and Volunteer

IMG_0852_1(Photo by Robert Barossi)

by Robert Barossi

This article out of Michigan caught my eye for two reasons. First, of course, was the word “volunteer,” which I’m always looking for. The second thing was the reference to the fact that she’s hoping to publish a book about her volunteer experiences. Having just published my own book, I wish her an equal amount of success in that endeavor. Reading more about Amalia Fernand’s work, she’s certainly an inspiring person who is doing amazing work as both an educator and volunteer. Through her organization, Nature Explorers International, which she founded, she has taught environmental education to young children in seventeen countries all over the world. She is also currently serving as a long-term volunteer with Orangutan Foundation International in Borneo. On her GoFundMe site, Fernand describes the job, saying, “My position as the Long-term Communications Volunteer will involve documenting the happenings of the care center through photography and writing to share with the international community via their website, newsletter, adopt-an-orangutan program and social media.” This type of communications work is another way that volunteers can help environmental organizations, by spreading the word, especially through social media and the internet. It’s just another part of the great work that Fernand has been doing for some time and will hopefully continue doing as she brings environmental education to children everywhere.

If you’ve enjoyed any of the stories on this blog, please consider downloading my eBook, Being Where You Are: How Environmental Volunteers Impact Their Community and the Planet Every Day. It’s available on

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