Editor's note: In February we postedKiptopeke State Park.
River 7 spent 5 wonderful weeks working on the Eastern Shore of Virginia with the Virginia State Parks. We couldn’t have asked for a better project and were sad to have to leave so soon. Each member of the team had something to say about their experiences:
River 7’s Kari Evely had this to say about working at Kiptopeke State Park, “As I listen to the torrential rain crash against the tin roof and watch as the drops break against the glass windows, I cannot help but feel extraordinarily content with my dry refuge within the workshop. As Jerry instructs me in the art of sign making, I pay careful attention, knowing I can gain much from his wisdom and experience. When the sun shines again, we can take the signs out and “plant” them to ready the park for the coming guests, but for now, there is much to do in the shop.”
Kari also had a great experience working at Mutton Hunk Fen Natural Area Preserve with Dot and Richard. “Dendroica loves Morella. This Valentine’s Day I learned the meaning of love, and it had nothing to do with how a man feels about a woman, but rather, how a bird feels about a shrub. Unloading small plants and making sure they felt snug in their new homes was just part of the fun, as we also made new friends who had much to teach us. And then of course, there was the dirt, which made the work day feel more like a childhood fantasy than anything else: get as filthy as you possibly can with absolutely no consequences. If you ask me, I’d say we were living the dream…”
Sarah Pearl had this to say about working with the Virginia Nature Conservancy, “Working with the Virginia Nature Conservancy has been one of the high lights of my time in Virginia. Standing in hip waders, in 30 degree weather building a boardwalk was challenging, yet is was also my favorite part of the project. I would like to thank Marcus and Anne for their patience and humor while working on this project.”
When asked about working at Mutton Hunk Fen, Sarah said, “Monday morning started with unloading a truck of over 2000 potted plants, by Tuesday afternoon all of these plants had found their homes in the once barren fields. The satisfaction of two full days of planting can be felt in muscles you did not know you had. Although I was undeniably sore, knowing that I took part in creating a new habitat is my favorite memory from River 7’s time in Virginia.
Another member of the team, John Rienzo spoke very highly of his experience working in Virginia. “I had a blast working with the Nature Conservancy, it was great to work with such knowledgeable staff who taught us so much. Everyday presented a new challenge which was truly enjoyable. The research done on oysters I found intriguing at the conservancy, which was almost as impressive as the amazing view overlooking the acres of land birds will migrate to on a yearly basis.
“Working on the Eastern Shore was awesome. Not only did we plant over 3000 waxmurtles for Dendroicas but one of our teammates Taylor, was featured in the local newspaper which was cool to see! I learned a lot from Richard and Dot, such as the simple rule of tree planting ‘brown
goes down and green goes up!’”
Ashlyn Thomas enjoyed the new experiences that she had with the Nature Conservancy, “I really enjoyed working with Marcus and Anne demolishing the old boardwalk and rebuilding a new boardwalk. I had never before pictured myself wearing waders and being ankle deep in mud, especially in the cold! It was a new and highly rewarding experience.”
Ashlyn also had this to say about working with Dot and Richard at the Mutton Hunk Fen Natural Area Preserve, “While planting over 2,000 wax myrtles with Dot and Richard I realized how lucky I was to be able to work on such an amazing project! After learning about the many benefits the shrubs have to the songbirds, planting was no longer work but fun! I am definitely planning on coming back to the eastern shore to see the progress of our trees.”
Taylor DeLegge had a wonderful time working with Joe, Marcus, and Anne at the Nature Conservancy, “I had an amazing time at the Nature Conservancy, from cutting down trees to fixing board walks everyday was a new experience. Though the work was hard and the cold wind was fierce I felt like we got a lot in the little bit of time we had there. The staff was awesome they were warm and welcoming, they were always there if you needed help or if you didn’t understand something.”
Taylor also found out how much fun he could have planting trees! “I never knew planting 3,000 wax myrtles could be so much fun but in the hands of Richard and Dot anything is possible. The volunteers we worked with on the first day were all in a joyous mood as we unloaded the trees off the truck. They all sang songs and told stories of their past. Together we got all the trees planted ahead of schedule.”
Another River 7 team member, Cain Silvey, had this to say about his experience, “I had a great time working with the Nature Conservancy in Brownsville. Marcus and Anne were awesome supervisors and with their help I think we got a lot of really great things done. We also spent a week working with Dot and Richard from the DCR at Mutton Hunk Fen Natural Area Preserve where we planted wax myrtle shrubs, cleared invasive tree species, and picked up tons of trash. It was hard work, but it was really gratifying to see the difference we made. I can't wait to see what the Preserve will look like in a few years time.”
Mac Legloahec had this to say about working on Mutton Hunk Fen Natural Area Preserve, “Working beside Richard and Dot planting trees was truly an experience that I will always remember. What fun and joyful people they were to be around, they both were a pleasure to work along side with. It was very pleasant to look at the unplanted fields and imagine what it would look like 20 years from now after we had planted all the trees.”
On working with the Nature Conservancy, Mac said, “The Nature Conservancy and the people associated with it have all been fantastic to work with; it is easy to see that they care very much about importance of this organization, thereby inspiring others in the community to make efforts at their own homes.”
River 7’s Jacquie King appreciated all the new experiences that she was able to obtain working with Richard and Dot at Mutton Hunk Fen, “Mutton Hunk: Richard and Dot were so friendly and helpful, and so incredibly easy to work with. I never would have guessed that I would be able to use an excavator! Richard taught me how to use the excavator after I expressed some interest and then let me use it for half of the day! I had so much fun learning how to use the piece of heavy machinery; in fact one of my teammates told me that I looked like a kid in a candy store. Not only did Richard teach us how to use different tools, he also taught us how to survey land and allowed us to survey two ditches on the property. Then, after telling Richard how much of a Math nerd that I am, he taught me how to use the data that we had collected and what was going to be done with the numbers once the surveying was done. I couldn’t believe how much I learned in that one week!”
Jacquie also enjoyed the different projects that she was able to work on with the Nature Conservancy, “In the six months prior to being in Virginia, my AmeriCorps experience consisted mostly of indoor construction. As much fun as it is to rehab houses, it was really nice to have a change and do an environmental project. Working with Marcus and Anne on the boardwalk at the Brownsville office was such a blast! Marcus and Anne were such a pleasure to work with, telling great stories and teaching us so many things! Having Joe as a supervisor was also enlightening; I really enjoyed the tours of the areas that we were working in, I felt as though Joe knew everything about each aspect of the project! Everyone at the Nature Conservancy was so kind, I can’t believe how appreciated I felt after working there for only about a week.”
River 7’s team leader, Chris Money, had this to say about his time in Virginia, “My experience with the Heritage Group and the Virginia Nature Conservancy was fantastic. As a Virginia native, it was a treat to be able to give back to the state that gave me my love of nature. The work done by both the Conservancy and the Heritage Group is essential to the natural well being of the Eastern Shore and it was a great opportunity to work with them.”
Ruth Chaney felt as though she achieved a lot after working with the Nature Conservancy for two days, “I got to spend two days working with some teammates on demolishing and rebuilding a section of the bird watching boardwalk. It was tiring work but was a lot of fun and it felt great to be able to look back at the end of the day and see all that we had accomplished. Plus we got to tromp around and get stuck in the mud while wearing our waders, which is always fun J.”
Ruth had this to say about her favorite memory working with Dot and Richard, “I really enjoyed going out to the salt marsh at the end of the week. It’s a really beautiful area and getting to take some time to look out over the water and reflect on our work was the perfect end to a really great week!”
When asked to say a few words about working on the Eastern Shore for five weeks, living in a beautiful cabin in the picturesque Kiptopeke State Park, 15 minutes from the quaint small town of Cape Charles, each team member had something different to say:
Kari Evely: I really and truly enjoyed my time working on Virginia’s coast, not only because I felt like my team was given the opportunity to accomplish a great deal, but also because everyone we worked with was someone worthy of great respect. Before this project, I had never been to Virginia, but now I know it as a place filled with kind and enthusiastic folks, who put much of their energy into improving the state and making it the best that it can be.
Sarah Pearl: Thanks to all the amazing people we worked with, including Dot, Richard, Marcus, Anne and Joe!
John Rienzo: I will never forget my time working with these amazing organizations!
Ashlyn Thomas: I can’t wait to come back to the Eastern Shore to see the progress of the projects that we worked on while we were in Virginia!
Taylor DeLegge: This was a fun and educational experience I learned a lot about the birds on the coast and how they are in need of a safe place to stay on their way south for the winter.
Cain Silvey: Thanks to everyone who made our stay in Virginia a fantastic experience!
Mac Legloahec: There was not one day that I wasn’t happy with the work to be done, and I will certainly miss all the smiling faces at the Virginia Nature Conservancy and parks.
Jacquie King: Thank you to everyone that taught us new tricks and kept us working hard for the five weeks that we worked with you! Thank you to Jerry, Chris, Joe, Dot, Richard, Marcus, and Anne who kept us busy!
Chris Money: I will always remember my time fondly and take any opportunity I can to return.
Ruth Chaney: This project was amazing! All of the sponsors were a lot of fun to work with a just great people in general. I learned a lot, worked and lived in some of the most beautiful areas I’ve seen, and got to drive some really awesome ‘toys.' Thank you for an absolutely wonderful experience!