By Laurie Sheppard, 2017
Our Tribe’s Fortune – 500 Hour Pin Recipient (Hard in good times but “Wow” in a pandemic!)
I do most of my volunteering at Hagerman NWR. I began volunteering there in 2009, shortly after I discovered the magic of the refuge. Every day is different and there’s always something new to discover. The Friends of Hagerman gave me an avenue to explore, identify, and report my discoveries. I did this through writing an occasional blog post, creating a handout, or simply posting photos of things I had seen along with a little description of my research. I always wanted to learn more and that led me to become a Master Naturalist in 2017, when I finally had time to devote to it. Unfortunately, that also coincided with some physical challenges, but again, Hagerman gave me several low-impact outlets.I also joined the Butterfly Garden Docents and that allows me to share my knowledge. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has used my abilities in many ways, from driving rescued birds to a rehabber like Blackland Prairie Raptor Center, to monitoring an at-risk butterfly that I discovered three years ago on the refuge. I report on the Frosted Elfin butterfly’s status several times during the spring and my reports are incorporated into a larger six-year study on whether the species needs protections under the Endangered Species Act. I feel like the things I am able to do at Hagerman NWR have value, whether it is protecting the environment and the biosphere or encouraging the public to get out in nature and helping them to enjoy it more.