By Beth Sullivan
While I am personally so indebted and amazed at all the work our volunteer stewards get done, it is a fact that we are all getting just a tad older. We are, however, the ones with more time in general, have fewer home obligations like small children, and have chosen our paths in terms of where and how we want to spend our time and efforts.
But every once in a while I get wishing I was younger, had a bit more energy and had more limber joints. For years I was a champion frog and snake catcher for school kids on field trips; now it takes me a little while to think of how ( or if ) I am going to quickly drop down to capture something far faster than I am.
|A look at a flock of turkeys was one highlight at Preston Preserve.|
Enter the next generation. This summer we were so lucky to have two enthusiastic and energetic college students come to us and ask how they could help. Avoiding temptation to all pile onto them and overwhelm them with our gratitude and ideas, it was quickly evident that having them lead hikes and field trips through the summer would be an excellent use of their knowledge, time and energy, and be a great way to reach out to our members and possibly recruit new ones.
Amanda Dostie is currently completing her final semester at UConn Avery Point, for a BS degree in Marine Sciences. She is also currently working as a research tech and outdoor educator for New England Science and Sailing in Stonington Borough. With her goal of creating a niche for herself in the environmental field, having her as a field guide this summer was a perfect fit.
|Amanda caught a toad. What a great way to learn.|
She enlisted Joe Warren who is a second year Masters Student in Marine Chemistry at Avery Point. His undergrad degree was in Environmental Chemistry. He is also a lover of nature and has led other outdoor explorer series in the area. A self -proclaimed lab-rat, he did a great job in the field.
Together the two of them led a series of hikes through this summer on five different Avalonia Preserves. They contacted local Avalonia stewards and naturalists to get some ideas of the lay of the land and any special features to be explained and shared.
Hikes are always a surprise. They can be paced depending on the age, skill and interest level of the participants. Some like fast paced exercise hikes, but as it happily evolved, these hikes became opportunities for some close encounters with nature and chances to learn a bit more up close and personal.
They started with a small group at the Hoffman Preserve in early July, and while they covered a fair amount of territory they were able to stop and explore in depth with the added expertise of naturalist Bruce Fellman who joined each hike in the series.
|Knox Preserve allowed glimpses of water.|
The Hoffman and Avery Preserves are mature forest areas in contrast with Henne Preserve which is highlighted by a beautiful wetland swamp complex with very different wildlife. The Preston Nature Preserve and Knox Preserve are examples of open meadows and shrub lands. Over the course of the summer, the hiking fans grew in number and had a great opportunity to experience a wide variety of habitats on Avalonia Trails.
|At Hoffman Preserve, the group looked at a big burl growth on the base of a tree.|
Amanda and Joe got high praise for their leadership. Everyone is grateful for their time and energy and enthusiasm. They are planning a fall series of hikes and hopefully even a guided kayak paddle; so keep an eye on our Avalonia website and Facebook for a schedule.
As you can see from the photos, a good time was had by all, young and young at heart.
Thank you Amanda and Joe, and welcome to Avalonia.
Photographs by Bruce Fellman and Rick Newton.
Sail away with Avalonia Land Conservancy
This is the third year we've held this popular sail aboard the Argia. Come join us.