Every summer my family and I drive up from Florida to spend two weeks with my husband’s parents at their cottage on Lake Leelanau. Over 20 summers in Leland, the Leelanau Peninsula has remained one of the most beautiful areas I have ever visited, in large part because so much of the land is being preserved for all of us to enjoy. Years ago we learned about the wonderful mission of the Conservancy, and in past summers, we explored many of the natural areas saved through the organization’s efforts. This summer, instead of just writing a check to support the Conservancy’s work, we decided to volunteer our time as well.
Volunteering is very easy. All I had to do was e-mail the Conservancy and was quickly offered a variety of opportunities. My sons Dave and Tim, ages 16 and 14, joined me one morning in folding and stuffing envelopes for Conservancy mailings, and in sorting and tagging t-shirts. At lunchtime my husband, Jim, picked up the boys at the office, and the three of them headed for Chippewa Run Natural Area, where they joined a group of volunteers setting posts for newly developed trails.
The following week the four of us drove to the Conservancy offices after hours, and weeded one of the shrubbery beds outside. Living in Florida, where weeds provide the only green in our yard, the boys were unfamiliar with this task, but we followed staff instructions and pulled up everything that wasn’t a shrub. We actually had a lot of fun, joking and competing with one another as we filled two bags with weeds. Later that week we took Nana and Pop with us to Chippewa Run. We walked the trail together and admired the work the boys had done with their father.
Altogether, the four of us contributed about 25 hours of volunteer time, although individually, none of us worked more than 7 hours. In addition to learning more about the Conservancy’s projects, the boys earned volunteer hours required by their high schools. More importantly, we all now feel more connected to the Leelanau Peninsula. I encourage other supporters to volunteer. The experience will enrich your summer, and allow you to give a little something back to this organization that does so much for all of us.