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Who can help nature? Anyone and everyone!

People often wonder how they can help nature but just aren’t sure how to get started, or what they have to offer. It’s been our experience that everyone has skills or talents that can provide essential assistance to nonprofits like The Escondido Creek Conservancy.

One of the best interpretive centers in the county exists at the Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve. Thousands of students annually attended environmental programs provided by the Conservancy at the James and Drew Hubbell-designed center. Many visitors comment on the beautiful furniture in the center donated by James’s friend, Elfin Forest resident David Allen Bardwick.

Since its closure in March due to COVID-19, a number of volunteers, on Zoom or masked and socially distanced, have been hard at work on a variety of enhancements and repairs to the center. The group is known as the “Dream(ing) Team.” Team members have been meeting monthly to dream up ways to continue improving the already-spectacular center. But they do much more than just dream. This is a highly-active, hands-on group. Projects have included handcrafting furniture and making interactive elements to the center’s permanent displays. Our most recent project was to refinish a David Allen Studio tabletop. At more than 12 feet long and 1 1/2 inches thick, a once-beautiful crack feature had begun to splinter.

Volunteer woodworker Greg White was up to the challenge.

To fortify the wood, Greg solicited the help of his neighbor, metal artist Jennifer Coburn, to manufacture a large metal plate to stabilize the piece. Working very carefully, Greg was able to build a mold to hold the resin and fill the crack. The final pouring of resin required the addition of a black dye to the resin to blend with the wood. Additionally, Greg had new legs fabricated, at his own expense, as a donation to the Conservancy.

To cover 2020 project costs, another extremely generous donation of $1,000 came from Bonnie Baumgartner. Thanks so much, Bonnie!

Volunteers and donors have helped refresh the center so it will be ready to again welcome visitors whenever the building is eventually able to reopen. For them, it was fun, and a satisfying way to help nature and the many people that enjoy the wonderful center.

We thank them, appreciate them, and encourage them to keep volunteering! Volunteers are the essential workers of the conservation world.

To learn how you can volunteer for The Escondido Creek Conservancy, visit:

Jeff Swenterton is a member of The Escondido Creek Conservancy Board of Directors.