Many Hands for the Land

By Melanie Louis on January 10, 2018 in Blog

2017 volunteer photo collage

Now that the 2017 volunteer season has come to a close, I’ve been able to catch my breath and look back on all that has happened across the state.

2017 brought an exciting new transition for me as I began my new role as volunteer coordinator. In a short four months, many have offered their congratulations and words of encouragement. I am beyond thankful for the dedication to the success of the program and the relationships that Mary Runkel, our former volunteer coordinator, built.

We’ve accomplished so much together this past year. A few of my favorite memories include our winter brush removal work days at Snyder Heritage Farm. The number of dedicated volunteers that showed up during these cold days and the commitment to the task was impressive! I’ve never seen so many fierce and determined individuals. Though some walked away with battle wounds (a scratch here and there from the evil multi-flora rose), everyone had a smile on their face at the end when they saw the work they had accomplished. p.s. - Miss out on the fun? We’ll be hosting a similar event in a couple weeks on Thursday, January 25.

Another favorite memory is the afternoon spent working with Girl Scouts to hand harvest native prairie seed. Many of them had never harvested prairie seed or had the opportunity to enjoy the tall grasses of Iowa’s prairie. By the end of the day, everyone wanted to know when they could come back again. Moments like these are what lift my spirits and reinforce a commitment to protect our natural areas for these younger generations.

After completing the volunteer program's fifth year, I am excited to begin the new year and look forward to the new opportunities that await us across the state. You can continue to expect invitations to signature events, like the annual Moonlight Seed Harvest at Chichaqua Bottoms Greenbelt, as well as some new opportunities 

I'm excited to share that with the help of our newest staff member Carole Teator, based out of Cedar Rapids, we will be offering more volunteer opportunities and ways to get outdoors and engage with people in eastern Iowa.

We've got two great chances to get outdoors coming up, an Winter Invasive Brush Removal on Thursday, January 25 at Snyder Heritage Farm, and a Winter Hike at Snyder Heritage Farm on Thursday, February, 15. We promise hot drinks, like-minded friends and a truly beautiful winter landscape at both events. I hope you can join us!

We continue to look for new ways to engage with people outdoors. Have ideas? I would love to hear them! Contact me at or 515-288-1846, ext. 35.