Volunteers Still Serve in Spite of Barriers

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My favorite people are volunteers. It doesn't matter what their political points of view might be, or what their belief systems are, or how old they are. They show up, and they serve. But what happens when something like Covid comes along?

Boy scout Connor Hawk and his family pose on the wooden benches he made for Leavenworth NFH durin the summer of 2020.

As it turns out, volunteers adapt. They still offer help. And once again, I am in awe of their goodwill.

Hatchery staff have been restricted in our ability to go to any of our sites this summer. So whose eyes are on our site, and who takes care of the extensive grounds? Volunteers, evidently.

Our neighbors who walk, run, or bike the trails pick up any trash they spot. Their daily efforts benefit us all. It was neighbors who put out a brush fire. Two on bicycles raced to the hatchery to report the fire and get 9-1-1 rolling. Another helped direct the fire trucks. Meanwhile, others grabbed shovels and started trenching and throwing dirt on the flames. It was the early efforts of volunteers that prevented the fire from growing.

A youth volunteer staples a laminated book page to a signpost on the Leavenworth NFH story trail.

Eagle Scout Conner Hawk built three handsome wooden benches to place in the portico at the main hatchery building. All the materials were donated by Lowes in Wenatchee. He built them in his home and delivered them when they were complete. Another Eagle Scout is working on fencing and revegetation at the boat launch, guided by a mentor. Both Scouts communicated with us via email and phone while working independently.

A request on Facebook for a volunteer to build signboards to display two new interpretive signs brought aid. Don Little responded immediately, and within the week, had delivered two beautiful pieces of work. Ed Ramirez also built two more signboards for use elsewhere on the site. He re-engineered the design to make them stronger and lighter. Marson and Marson gave us deep discounts for the materials, as they have often done for our volunteer projects.

Trout Unlimited continues with year three of the Wenatchee Beaver Project, using one of our old fish ponds to house beavers transitioning from one location to another. Volunteers have allowed the project employees to collect aspen saplings on their land to feed the beavers; and some have volunteered to stop by and check on the animals regularly to make sure all is well.

USFWS volunteer transports fertilized salmon eggs in a golf cart from the spawning area to the nursery.

Friends of Northwest Hatcheries volunteer Courtney Feeney added a storybook to the Nature Trail, so visitors can read "Trees are Made of Trout" as they go from one signpost to the next. The Friends group is a wonderful way to support not only the hatchery in Leavenworth, but hatcheries throughout the Pacific Northwest. It is this group that brings us the Wenatchee River Salmon Festival. Although this year's event was canceled, like so many others, they are planning now for 2021.

During spawning season this year, volunteers signed up and showed up, wearing masks and ready to work. Spawning hundreds of salmon takes a big group effort. Volunteers were a vital part of that.

The constant efforts of volunteers at our site surprise and delight us. It brings us hope in a difficult time. And it reminds us how even small efforts add up to build a better, stronger, cleaner community. My thanks go out to all of you volunteers, whatever it is you do. Our hatcheries belong to you; and your care for our sites and for the work we do is inspiring.