Category Archives: environmental volunteers

Controlling Invasive Species in New Zealand

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Image courtesy of Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

by Robert Barossi

I’ve often mentioned that volunteers are hard at work in every corner of the globe. There is nowhere on the planet where volunteers aren’t involved in some kind of important and impactful work. This story out of New Zealand shows how volunteers there are working hard to remove or at least control an invasive species, wilding conifers. These trees, also called wilding pines, are considered a major threat to ecosystems and biodiversity in New Zealand. Among the organizations dealing with the problem is Environment Canterbury, which is leading events focused solely on removing and controlling the plants.

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Volunteer Seal of Approval

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Image courtesy of Michael Elliott at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

by Robert Barossi

Another blog title, another really bad pun. Yes, this story involves seals. Harbor seals, to be exact. It also involves one of my favorite local organizations, Save the Bay in Rhode Island, an organization that was also featured heavily in my book. They recently led the effort to count seals in Narragansett Bay and came away with the highest number of counted seals in history. These kinds of monitoring programs continue to be an essential way for experts to keep track of wildlife populations. And an important way for dedicated volunteers to get involved and have a impact in their environment.

For more stories of environmental volunteer and their inspiring work, download my eBook – Being Where You Are: How Environmental Volunteers Impact their Community and the Planet Every Day

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Volunteers Never Tire

Underwater LeavesPhoto by Robert Barossi

by Robert Barossi

After a week or so off from the blog, and from life in general with a little much needed vacation, it’s time to get back to the volunteer stories. And yes, this post’s title is one of my worst puns ever, since this story involves volunteers pulling tires out of a river. Coming out of Connecticut, the story is notable for just how many tires volunteers found: 420. That’s a lot of tires to pull out of a three mile stretch of river. A number of groups worked together to achieve this important cleanup effort, including the Boy Scouts, the Railroad Museum of New England and the Naugatuck River Revival Group.

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Environmental Volunteers Enforcing Laws?

Underwater LeavesPhoto by Robert Barossi

by Robert Barossi

The new month starts with a fascinating story out of Singapore. Back when I was talking to volunteers for my book, many of them talked about how they were often asked to be authority figures, of a sort. For example, trail stewards were given the authority to tell other trail users to stop littering or pick up their trash. While they weren’t any type of official law enforcement representative, they were given the ability to act in an enforcement role.

A new law in Singapore takes this a step further, and a number of people are concerned. Volunteers are being given the right and ability to enforce environmental laws, such as the ability to hand out citations to other citizens who are caught littering. These volunteers will work for the National Environment Agency, which has offered some assurances, such as background checks for the volunteers and a training period during which they’ll work with NEA officers. Still, opposition voices have raised questions regarding the appropriateness and necessity of giving these kinds of powers to volunteers. Another article on the new law offers a few different perspectives on these issues.

If you enjoyed any of the stories on this blog, check out my eBook for many more environmental volunteer stories – Being Where You Are: How Environmental Volunteers  Impact Their Community and the Planet Every Day

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Volunteers Rebuild and Protect Important Habitats

IMG_0847_1Photo by Robert Barossi

by Robert Barossi

Two great stories with a common theme this morning. Wherever they work, environmental volunteers are often working hard to protect, preserve, even rebuild the habitats where wildlife species live.

First, a story out of the Illinois Times focused on a fantastic organization doing some fantastic work. As the article title indicates, the group, which owns 300 acres of land and manages another 2,000, prides itself in being “Nature’s Friends.” The group states as their mission the saving of area habitats, protecting and preserving the environment while also keeping the areas available and open to hunters, anglers and foragers. Doing so is accomplished by a group of dedicated  volunteers and the group’s inspiring leader, Vern LaGesse. Among other insights, he notes, “I spent my lifetime being part of these places and trying to understand their secret knowledge. I am learning so much every year. That’s what keeps me going.” Check out more about LaGesse and his group, Friends of Sangamon Valley, at their Facebook page.

Farther west, in Washington, volunteers are working hard to recreate a habitat for birds. Four years ago, bird boxes were removed from the Port Susan Nature Preserve, as part of a larger project by the Nature Conservancy. Now, the organization’s volunteers are replacing the bird boxes and hollow gourds, placing them high on wood pilings around the area. The estuary where the bird boxes are located is also getting some help from the volunteers by way of trash cleanup and  invasive species removal. They are hopeful that all of this work will bring songbirds who used to occupy the estuary back to the region.

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Young Volunteers in Malaysia

ID-100212556Image courtesy of think4photop at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

by Robert Barossi

There have been some great international stories lately, showcasing the kind of work being done by volunteers around the world. Two previous posts featured United Arab Emirates and Great Britain, and today a story out of Malaysia. This one is notable for a number of reasons, first and perhaps foremost is the fact that the volunteers are young, from primary schools, high schools and colleges. Getting people involved in environmental volunteering at this age is essential. They are the volunteers of tomorrow. It’s also worth noting the kind of work being done here. It’s exactly the same kind of litter and pollution cleanup that goes on in and along rivers in every corner of the globe. It again demonstrates how similar we all are, whether its our impact on our local environment or our ability to protect it.

If you have enjoyed the stories on this blog, download my eBook for many more environmental volunteer stories – Being Where You Are: How Environmental Volunteers Impact Their Community and the Planet Every Day

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Volunteers Clean the Canals

Through the TreesPhoto by Robert Barossi

by Robert Barossi

One of things I loved about this story was that part of the headline reads “Band of jolly volunteers…”  Any story about a band of jolly volunteers is likely to be a very good story. This one happens to come out of Worcestershire County in England, where volunteers have been showing up in all kinds of weather to participate in month-long effort to clean the local canals. Organized and led by the Canal & River Trust, the volunteers have been working along 32 miles of canal, “cleaning up litter, managing the vegetation, making sure there are no dangers for boat users or towpath walkers and checking the locks, weirs and any other aspect of the canals to make sure they work properly.” The story provides a great example of the kind of challenging and difficult work volunteers are doing and how the experience can be highly rewarding and a lot of fun

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Volunteers Rebuild a Coastal Marsh

P1000687Photo by Robert Barossi

by Robert Barossi

Up here in New England, coastal erosion is a major issue facing many area residents. There’s a long history of people developing and building too close to a coast that has been falling away for some time. In many places, the erosion is accelerating, accompanied by rising sea levels which pose a very real threat to many people and their homes and businesses, not to mention the non-human population. While numerous organizations are working to combat coastal erosion, it’s often volunteers who are working with those groups, doing much of the work, especially since the organizations can’t always hire as many full time staff members as they may want or need. Similarly, many miles away, in Corpus Christi, Texas, volunteers are playing a big part in a major project designed to rebuild a section of eroded coastline. Working with the Coastal Bend Bays and Estuaries Program, volunteers have been helping the cause by planting grasses and other vegetation. The article’s author (who is not named, as far as I can tell) ends with an excellent, if opinionated point, saying, “I figure the more diverse and far reaching the volunteer effort, the greater the sense of ownership the project will receive. Perhaps then, visitors will care enough not to trash it.”

If you’ve enjoyed the posts on this blog, download my eBook for many more environmental volunteer stories – Being Where You Are: How Environmental Volunteers Impact Their Community and the Planet Every Day

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Volunteers Observe Impacts of Climate Change

IMG_0612Photo by Robert Barossi

by Robert Barossi

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the high in Boston could hit sixty degrees today. Later this week, temperatures are predicted to be in the high forties and low fifties. This kind of weather has been the rule, rather than the exception, throughout this warm New England winter. As this story out of Maine demonstrates, volunteers are front and center when it comes to observing the ramifications of a warmer climate. These volunteers with Aroostook Birders are seeing countless indicators of just how climate change is impacting bird species. Many birds are staying in the area much longer, rather than flying south, and other birds are appearing for the first time ever. These changes can and likely will have ripple effects throughout the ecosystem in Maine and in every region where these wildlife population changes are taking place.

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Volunteers Cleaning Up in the United Arab Emirates

13-08-06-abu-dhabi-by-RalfR-029Photo by Ralf Roletschek, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

by Robert Barossi

While most of the stories on this blog happen to occur in and around the United States, environmental volunteers are working constantly all over the world. Environmental devastation and crises in every nation are tackled by professionals and volunteers alike. This story out of the United Arab Emirates illustrates the kind of volunteer work that you will find happening on every continent, in every country. Just like parks and beaches everywhere, the ones in Abu Dhabi are often filled with trash and litter. While efforts to get people to stop littering work to some degree, it’s dedicated volunteers who must come by after the picnics are over and the tourists are gone to collect the trash and clean up the litter.

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

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