We met at Rieth Interpretive Center in Goshen. There was plenty of delicious food. It's obvious that much of the food was local and homemade. I broke out the new after Halloween bird talon salad serving tongs for my salad! Nancy Brown from Elkhart County SWCD (Soil and Water Conservation District) is one of the group "hosts" that coordinates the groups. One family had their one year old with them who wandered up to the book table. She picked him right up and we were all reminded that we do all of this partially for this very reason--to help young people connect with nature and have a healthy planet! I know I find my volunteer work most fulfilling when I get to work with others to provide good quality nature based experiences in many forms.
Nancy always has a large stash of books! She had several to give away. She's been collecting our volunteer hours and had book giveaways to everyone who had turned in their hours so far this year. There were all kinds of books from previous classes, her stash, and another person who recently moved away and had books to share.
As she announced our nature service hours, she let us come up and pick a book. I had a lot of volunteer hours this year (lets try over 500) so I got to pick first. I was having a hard time deciding, so she just let me have the two I was mulling over. I have been doing most of my volunteer work at Woodlawn Nature Center in Elkhart, but also helped with a Junior Indiana Master Naturalist summer camp and then help with the Indiana Master Naturalist Facebook page.
One of the IMNs also made some lovely walking sticks to give away as well. :-) I was fortunate to win one of those, too. While it was great to take home a few prizes, I mostly enjoyed meeting with some friends, catching up, sharing our nature experiences, and dining on good food. I am very impressed with all the service these people give back to the natural community! They volunteer at Gene Stratton Porter's Historic Site, Maplewood Nature Center, Middlebury Parks and Recreation, Goshen Parks and Recreation, Elkhart County Parks, Woodlawn Nature Center, SWCD, Wellfield Botanic Gardens, Elkhart Environmental Center, and more! They are a delight to know and call friends.