Volunteer Year in Review – 2020, the Year That Was
“Pivot” was certainly the word of the year for the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust’s volunteer program. In a year set out to be the biggest yet, with new pilot programming planned and more volunteer leadership for more volunteer events… a global pandemic surely threw a wrench in those plans. Thankfully, resiliency is another tool in the Greenway Trust’s toolbox. We adapted by pulling back on hosting regular volunteer events, worked with limited program capacity, attempted virtual volunteer engagement, and excelled at virtual learning. What else have we been up to? We’ve leaned into this time to better understand the value our program holds to the people, ecosystems, and wildlife that work, live, and play in the Mountains to Sound Greenway.
Despite every setback this year, our program did move forward, just in different ways than before. The volunteer events we were able to host were smaller, and we were able to create deeper bonds and connections to our volunteers and the places we were stewarding together. We were encouraged when volunteers reached out to check in to show their enthusiasm for getting back out when the time was right.
One of our biggest volunteer power sources this year came through the efforts of National Community Conservation Corps (NCCC) AmeriCorps members. Nine members from across the United States, U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico, volunteered and served with the Greenway Trust from October 2019 to March 2020. Their time in the Pacific Northwest was cut short by the onset of the pandemic, making their team our first major “pivot” of 2020. Even with a shorter season, these NCCC members had some major accomplishments. They maintained over 8,500 feet of trail, planted over 2,200 native trees and shrubs, potted up over 8,000 plants for our native plant nursery, and contributed almost 2,500 hours of volunteer service to the Greenway Trust! We are so grateful for their contribution and can only imagine all we could have done together with more time.
Volunteers got a bit creative, dare we say they “pivoted” as well. Some of our dedicated youth volunteers teamed up around a read-a-thon to raise funds for tree planting in the Mountains to Sound Greenway. They raised funds to plant 100 native plants!
Virtual volunteering is virtually impossible – at least with the event leadership level we are used to. Instead, for National Public Lands Day this year we focused on a problem that is unfortunately pervasive on public lands nowadays: trash. With our communication team and partners, we teamed up to provide educational information for individual trash clean ups throughout the Greenway landscape. We were able to get more than 250 people interested in pitching in to clean up public lands!
We revisited a bit of Greenway history this year as volunteers took part in a weeklong training and restoration project of the Salmon La Sac campground picnic shelter. This was made possible with support from Greenway Trust trail crews, the United States Forest Service Cle Elum Ranger District, and David Roger’s Cascadian Log School, all supported by a grant from the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination committee.
With the recruitment assistance of a powerful Clean Water Ambassador intern, we celebrated Green Seattle Days with the Green Seattle Partnership this year in classic Green Seattle Day style – planting in the rain! We focused on the strength, beauty, and power of understory plants at one of our restoration sites in South Seattle.
Our accomplishments look different at the end of this year, but despite everything, we still achieved a lot. Our Trail and Restoration Crews were also busy this year contributing time and energy to the Greenway. As we look to the future, we hope to return in ways that capture the unique niche of volunteers, this landscape, and truly help spread and encourage the ethic of stewardship in this region.
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Thanks so much for being a part of this year’s journey. See you soon!