Saturday, November 17, 2012

Call Of The Wild

It was in my capacity as Vice President of Soldiers Delight Conservation, Inc. that I represented SDCI, the Friends group for Soldiers Delight Natural Environment Area in Owings Mills, Maryland, at the 2012 Volunteer Leadership Summit, held at Baltimore’s North Point State Park today. As many of you know, Soldiers Delight NEA is a federally designated wildland down the street from my home in Baltimore County.  Representatives from state park Friends groups all over Maryland were invited to attend this annual brainstorming session and networking opportunity and I was delighted to lend my expertise to the day-long workshop.

My SDCI Friends group may be tiny compared to some and we have a miniscule budget to work with, but our nonprofit 501(3)(c) corporation has a lofty and worthwhile mission: to educate the public about Soldiers Delight NEA and to conserve and restore its rare and endangered ecosystem for future generations. At today’s summit, the leaders of Friends groups and other park volunteers listened to upbeat statistics about how well our state parks are being utilized by the public, how legislature may be receptive to increasing their park and recreation budgets ever so slightly in Fiscal Year 2013, and what steps we as Friends groups can do to increase the public’s awareness and enjoyment of our wild and scenic public spaces.

One of the ways in which my particular Friends group generates participation, performs outreach and obtains donations to further our conservation efforts at Soldiers Delight is by putting on several programs throughout the year that I lead in my capacity as a Volunteer Ranger for the Maryland Park Service. As my regular blog readers know, a few weeks ago I put on a pumpkin-carving program for the public at Soldiers Delight that was well-attended and well-received. Our next and final program of 2012 is an annual Holiday Open House.  It is the largest fundraising event our board organizes each year.

This year’s Open House is scheduled for Sunday, December 2nd from noon to 4:00 p.m. at the Visitor Center at Soldiers Delight Natural Environment Area. The public is invited to attend this free event and tour the aviary where the Maryland Department of Natural Resources houses and rehabilitates raptors, reptiles and amphibians who earn their keep as ambassadors for the State's Scales & Tales program (Scales & Tales). We will host a bake sale in our exhibit hall and I will oversee a Christmas craft program in our auditorium, which will have a modest entry fee to cover the cost of materials.

If you live in the area, I encourage you to come out and support me by attending my biggest yearly event. We will offer glasses of my homemade mulled wine, hot chocolate and spiced cider for a small donation to wash down all those delectable bake sale items you surely won’t be able to resist, and then you can take a leisurely hike on one of our picturesque trails to burn off those bake sale calories. I would so love to see you all there. Click on the SDCI website (SDCI) for directions to Soldiers Delight NEA. Print out the flyer about my Open House (above) to post at your workplace or forward this post (Call Of The Wild) to friends and family.

Consider for a moment what a state park provides to the public. Where else can we go to escape the pressures of daily life and be instantly transported to a beautiful and wholesome environment where we can stretch our legs, expand our knowledge, reduce our stress and be awestruck by the wonder of the natural world that surrounds us? There is something so special about being outdoors, appreciating the beauty of nature and letting our senses absorb the sights and sounds of animal life buzzing, chirping and scampering all around us. Breathe the fresh air. Be present to the moment. The natural world encourages us to relax and enjoy being alive.

Today’s Volunteer Leadership Summit drove home for me how important a resource our natural spaces are for citizens all across this great land. Come see why I marvel at the outdoor world. Come visit my Holiday Open House at Soldiers Delight on December 2nd.

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