We Love Our Volunteers!

Sophie Oehler | April 18, 2023
A group of workers hold rakes and stand next to wheel barrows in front of a grey building

Here at the Forest Society, we are so lucky to have a group of hardworking and passionate volunteers that help us steward our properties, clean up our public areas, and engage with the public. Here's a look back at everything we've accomplished together so far this spring and a special event in March where we thanked volunteers for all they do. We also thanked volunteers north of the Notch at our annual Maple Dinner last month - we appreciate everything they do to support The Rocks!

Volunteer Appreciation Event: March 2

A man speaks to a crowd who is photographed from behind
Sr. Director of Education, Dave Anderson, tells stories in the parking lot before heading out for the hike. As always, he is very animated. (photo: Sophie Oehler)

It was a grey and drizzly Thursday when we welcomed our volunteer land stewards and easement monitors to the Conservation Center for awalk on the Merrimack River Education and Conservation Area and a gathering in the Conservation Center afterwards.  

A man in a red jacket faces away from camera as he speaks to a crowd in a snowy forest.
Anderson led the group on a short loop of the Merrimack Floodplains, stopping to discuss points of interest. Here he describes recent beaver sightings in the wetlands. (photo: Sophie Oehler)

Senior Director of Education, Dave Anderson, led the nature walk and talk through the snowy trails of the Floodplains, stopping at points of interest to talk about their significance to the property and the organization: the beaver habitat in the wetlands, the “Haunted Wood” of planted pine trees, the banks of the Merrimack, and the mowed field.  

Afterwards, staff and the 25 volunteers in attendance hiked back up the hill to congregate in the conference room for hot drinks and a presentation from President Jack Savage about the updates happening within the organization.  

A man in a red jacket, pink baseball hat and sunglasses faces the camera amongst a group of people.
Craig Mabie oversees the Stillhouse Forest in Canterbury, where he leads guided tours of the forest and riverbanks.

Craig Mabie, who volunteers at the Stillhouse Forest in Canterbury, said that hearing from Savage was his favorite part of the day.  

“Being updated by senior staff gives you the big picture,” he said, “It shows how my contributions contribute to a greater force and movement.” 

After Savage’s presentation, the volunteers and staff mingled in the conference room to chat and mingle. 

A man addresses a seated crowd inside a wood paneled room
President Jack Savage presents some recent happenings at the Forest Society, including the restoration work being done at The Rocks. (Photo: Sophie Oehler)

Laurel Swope-Brush, the Land Steward and Volunteer Program Coordinator, enjoyed seeing the program members come together to celebrate their collective work.  

“In a world where COVID has taken away so many opportunities to build a community, it is even more important now to host appreciation events for our volunteers,” she said, “We want happy volunteers who feel appreciated!”  


Creek Farm Clean Up Day: April 4

On a rainy April day, volunteers and staff members met on the banks of Sagamore Creek to clean up the damage done by winter storms to the property of Creek Farm and prepare the facilities for the summer visitors.  

A group of people stand near the ocean and gather around a dog
The Creek Farm volunteers and their work day mascot, Benny, celebrate a hard day of work.

“The winter on the coast was pretty rough this year,” said Creek Farm Education Program Coordinator, Sarah Kern, “Heavy snow [brought] down [tree] limbs and high tides [beat] up our dock and shoreline.”  

In order to fix the damage, volunteers focused on rebuilding the dock, preparing the interior of the Education Center for use, clearing and mending trails and trail signage and, as Kern puts it, “beautifying and waking up the gardens around the Education Center.”  

A woman stands among a pile of dead leaves in the forest.
Volunteers spent much of the day clearing out branches and debris from around the property.

Ron Snow, the Manager of Individual Giving for the Forest Society, was a part of the Creek Farm work day and spent most of the day helping to repair the dock.  

“It couldn’t have been a better day,” he said, “The group had an up-beat, positive attitude despite the torrential rain. We hammered the work out, and already it looks 100 times better.”  

Snow would also like to include that by the end of the day, he had logged 12,000 steps on his workout watch.  

Not only was the work day at Creek Farm a chance to get everything ready for summer, it was also a chance for volunteers and staff to come together, celebrate their collective work, and get to know one another.  

When asked what the value of these workdays is, Kern said, “We come together, that is most important. We spend time with each other, we chat, we laugh, and enjoy each other. And boy, do we get stuff done, thanks to an incredible team that organizes it.”  

Three men work on installing a pair of sign posts.
The volunteers also focused on installing a new trail kiosk to help visitors find their way.

Ron Snow says that this is his favorite part about these workdays. As a new employee, he gets to develop connections with volunteers and learn more about the work they do for the organization.  

“It was great to meet all the members and volunteers there,” he said, “I got to talk to them about the organization, what they like about it and what we could be doing better for them. I made it my goal to get to know them.”  

Both Ron Snow and Sarah Kern along with the rest of the Forest Society staff would like to extend our gratitude to all that joined us to clean up in the rain.  

“Our Forest Society family is pretty amazing,” said Kern.  






Conservation Center Clean Up Day: April 12

A group of workers stand down the hill from the camera, crowded around a wheel barrow
On a warm April day, volunteers joined SPNHF staff to clean up the front and back gardens of the Conservation Center.

This Wednesday, a small group gathered at the Forest Society's Conservation Center in Concord for another volunteer cleanup day. Five volunteers were in attendance, plus six staff members.  

The work focused largely on raking the lawns, clearing fallen branches from the grounds, cleaning out the window wells 

of dead leaves, and ridding the entire front lawn of dead crabgrass. It was a beautiful day for some yard work.  

“The best part of the workday was witnessing a new team of people work together to achieve some pretty big tasks,” said Laurel Swope-Brush, “It was as if they had been working together at many workdays before!”  

The work days at Creek Farm and the Conservation Center mark the beginning of a busy field season at the Forest Society. With the warm weather, summer brings the opportunity to get outside and care for the Forest Society's properties across the state, either for trail work, trash pick-up, or facility improvement.  

Three people rake leaves side by side.
(LTR) Ron Snow, Laurel Swope-Brush and volunteer Melissa Howard rip crab grass out of the front lawn.

When asked what she is most looking forward to about the field season, Swope-Brush answered, “I am looking forward to building relationships with our volunteers and helping match folks with projects/events that make them feel good about the work they are giving their precious time to.”  






A woman sits in a garden, holding a green bucket.
Volunteer Schulyer Bogue tends to the garden in the front of the Conservation Center.
As we begin new projects and continue old ones, we are always looking for hardworking and passionate people to join our fantastic group of volunteers. Young or old, experienced or not, any hands are helping ones and we are thankful for anyone and everyone who comes out to show their support. Whether it’s for an afternoon or a full year, we welcome all who hold a space in their hearts for the outdoors.  

a group of people holding yard tools pose around a 4 wheeler
The group (minus a few) poses after their hard work for a group photo. LTR Sarah AlSamaraee, Jay Frost, Dave Anderson, Steve Perron, Ron Snow, Laurel Swope-Brush, Dave Heuss, Frank Allen, Melissa Howard, Schuyler Bogue.