Laurie Sheppard, 2017
“I live in New England four months of the year but I can still be a part of BPTMN every month because of the efforts of the chapter’s BOD. I may not see people in person very often but I still feel welcome when I do.”Laurie Sheppard, 2017
I primarily volunteer at Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge and I give my time in many different ways. Twice a month, I work half a day in the Visitor Center, greeting people and helping them find a trail they might like or explaining what birds are being seen (or where to see the Bald Eagles). I answer their questions about wildlife on the refuge and different activities that are available to visitors. Generally, it’s just doing what I can to make them feel welcome and help make their visit enjoyable.
Once a month I do a Tram Tour on the refuge. As tram drivers, we explain some of the history of the area, talk about management of the habitat for types of wildlife, and locate and identify birds, butterflies, dragonflies,etc. depending on the season and the weather. We talk about the cycles of flood and drought and how it impacts the refuge and about the relationship of the refuge with oil and gas extraction on the site.
I monitor Frosted Elfin butterflies each spring and report my findings to the US Fish & Wildlife Service for inclusion in their research. I work with local refuge management to ensure the habitat for the Frosted Elfins is preserved and maintained through mowing and/or judicious burning. I also lead a group that monitors Monarch migration in spring and fall. That gets reported to a coordinator in Iowa who incorporates it into a report covering multiple wildlife refuges. It ultimately contributes to the greater body of knowledge regarding the annual migration of Monarch butterflies.
Hagerman has a butterfly garden that has suffered during COVID because volunteers couldn’t get together to do regular maintenance. I am on the Friends of Hagerman Board of Directors, and my particular project is to restore the butterfly garden to its pre-Covid status with a return to a mixture of selected host and nectar plants to encourage a large mixture of species. I also maintain a list of butterfly species found on the refuge.
I also write feature articles for the Featherless Flyer, a monthly newsletter informing and educating people who have an interest in visiting the refuge. I occasionally (maybe once per year or less) present a program at the refuge. Topics have included butterflies at the refuge and the health benefits of time in nature. And… once in a while I pick up trash at the refuge. People seem to keep throwing cans and bottles everywhere. I want people to enjoy the refuge and looking at someone else’s trash detracts from the experience.
Oh, why do I keep my Blackland Prairie membership? Because it’s the best chapter! Seriously, BPTMN worked through the pandemic to keep everyone informed and engaged, and now that in person meetings are available, I find it’s still more convenient most of the time to engage through Zoom. I live in New England four months of the year but I can still be a part of BPTMN every month because of the efforts of the chapter’s BOD. I may not see people in person very often but I still feel welcome when I do.