Volunteer Reflection: The NH Coverts Project Workshop
The following reflection is from Robin Bell, a landowner in Strafford, New Hampshire. In May 2015, Robin trained with the NH Coverts Project, a program that promotes wildlife habitat and forest stewardship through volunteer education and outreach.
The outdoors has been an appreciation and passion of mine since childhood. My relationship with nature started with digging in the dirt and making mud pies, visiting my grandfather who worked as park ranger in a state park, climbing and falling out of trees, gardening, caring for farm animals, admiring and respecting wildlife, and hiking Mt. Washington again, and again, and again – positive childhood experiences, all of which have been fostered and carried into adulthood.
So, after these many years of enjoying and appreciating our natural world, I was hoping to find an opportunity to take my passion to another level. While searching for ways to give back to nature, I came upon the website of the NH Coverts Project Workshop, a program run by UNH Cooperative Extension and sponsored by NH Fish & Game. The Coverts Project training workshop is offered once per year, teaching wildlife habitat and land management skills to 25 lucky participants (like-minded individuals and landowners from all over the state of NH). The training is offered in exchange for 40 volunteer hours over the next year.
The 3.5-day workshop was held at a camp and conference center in Greenfield, NH – 326 wooded acres, on a lake, with lots of trails - a perfect environment for learning this material. The overall program was excellent, with knowledgeable instructors and presenters. There were classroom talks, as well as lots of field walks. The food provided was the best. The cabins were clean and comfortable. My favorite activity was the early morning bird walk because at the very end, a broad-winged hawk landed in the branches above our heads and choked out a pellet… paydirt!
The information I came away with is invaluable. My plan is to manage our small piece of property to better support wildlife habitat. One of the greatest things that was imparted on me is that a variety of habitat is key in supporting wildlife. Also, to look at the properties surrounding mine and see how it fits into the whole landscape, connecting the larger picture. We live on the side of a mountain and our property is naturally varied; sloping, hilly, wooded, ravine-like, rocky areas, flat areas, damp areas, shrubs, lots of berries, standing dead trees for critters (called “snags”), old large stumps that have been piled at the bottom of the hill making perfect habitat for fox and bear, and by clearing the hill to maintain our mountain view we will encourage different bird species.
I am looking forward to my NH Coverts Project journey and am excited to be able to share and carry the knowledge forward. Having made this wonderful Coverts connection, there are countless opportunities readily available to volunteer and make a contribution to NH’s wildlife and environment way beyond the 40-hour commitment (including opportunities through Nature Groupie!). I highly suggest going to the NH Coverts Project website (nhcoverts.org) and clicking on Become a Coverts Volunteer to begin your own journey working for wildlife.