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Borrego Springs, CA

Monday, November 12, 2012

Finally got the Chesser Island Homestead orientation

I was up and at ‘em in time this morning for my fourth day in a row of working on the refuge this week.  Have I mentioned before that I think requiring a solo volunteer to work four days a week is too much?  Probably, but I’m going to mention it again.

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A few more photos tonight from yesterday’s west entrance swamp tour.  A juvenile little blue heron picking it’s way along the lily pads and a peat ‘blow out’.

The operative word for me is ‘requires’.  I may choose to work extra hours, and often have, but requiring four days a week is just about like having a job to me.  I get worn out.

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                                  A first year white ibis.  Don’t you just love that down turned beak?

I’ve debated this issue with many Fish and Wildlife staff as well as fellow volunteers that are couples.  I know all of their arguments, but I stand firm in my belief.  It is something that I guess we have agreed to disagree about.

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           Another view of the swamp from the boat.  As I said yesterday, it was a glorious weather day.

I worked the visitors center this morning, and then was assigned to roam for the afternoon.  I stopped at the rig to let Emma out and eat my lunch.  I’ve always been a slow eater, so only having 30 minutes for lunch is a real challenge for me.  Many days I fix my lunch the night before so I have a little more leeway.  Some people can inhale their meals in five minutes, but I’ve never been one of those people.  I guess I inherited that from my mother, as she was even slower than I am.

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This is what happens with many of my attempts to get bird photos.  The darn things have wings, and blast off into flight at my approach.  Sad smile

We had 50 members of a nature lovers group scheduled for a boat tour and a tour of the Chesser Island Homestead today, so I finally got my orientation about being a docent at the Homestead.  Fellow RV volunteer Barry gave the presentation, and I learned a great deal just listening to him.  It was obvious that he is very passionate about sharing his research and knowledge about the pioneer Chesser family. 

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                                             Yep, another little blue heron “gets out of Dodge!”

It will take some study and work on my part to reach the standards set by Barry’s presentation of the history of these ‘swampers’.  I’m determined, though, and it amazes me how much more I’m interested in history than I was as a student in school.  Nerd smile

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As we neared the end of our swamp boat tour yesterday, we witnessed this rather comical nature interaction.  A nice sized yellow-bellied slider turtle had decided to do its sunning atop the back of an alligator.  As our boat neared them, the alligator apparently became uncomfortable as it quickly began swimming away.  The turtle hung on for a wild ride for a while, but eventually blew off into the water.  Just couldn’t hang on for such a roller coaster ride on a moving log, I guess.  Surprised smile

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

27 comments:

  1. That turtle has sure chosen an interesting form of transportation.
    I will have to agree that four days seems a bit much for volunteer work.

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  2. 4 days a week for a solo is not right. That's 32 hours a week and far surpasses what you would pay for that site. (It's much easier for couples) If they were a bit more accommodating, they'd probably have more volunteers.

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  3. I really like the photos of the birds in flight. It looks like you planned it that way.
    The last photo is wonderful. How often will anyone see these three creatures together.

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  4. I would rather boondock and choose volunteer activities in a locality than to tied to a schedule such as yours. I do love the learning opportunities that you have had and the beautiful locations.... but I'm with you, 32 hours is way too much!! That is just to much reTIREdment for me!

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  5. I agree with you Judy, this is my first time at a NWR and I have observed what the couples are doing while working. On a day off last week, I came across a volunteer couple "counting birds" - they were working together and only have to do 3 days (so is their argument that they are putting in 6 days of work???) I am sure I use less water and electricity than they do. My volunteer coordinator has only asked me to work 2 months, but I am hearing from others that I am on the schedule for 6 months, I do not like the fact that she has not spoken to me about this. I may consider an extra month but I will not stay here 6 months. I love the quiet of the park in the evenings and I enjoy the work and am learning things, I will give this time, but some things about how things are run bug me.

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  6. I tend to think that they sometimes "use" their volunteers waaaaaaay too much for zero pay...just sayin'.

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  7. I know you have wonderful experiences but working 32 hours a week is not right. I don't know what the couples have to say about it that would make this seem right but I don't see it. I was shocked to see the turtle on the back of the alligator. That's a great picture.

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  8. I thought and read where a lot of places require 20 hrs per person a week. Ifyou are solo that would only be about 3days if that. I think they are taking advantage of you

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  9. I have also heard that they "prefer" couples as they get two workers for the same "price" as one. I was thrilled to see you and several other solo RVers were able to get positions.

    Does seem a wonder that they don't realize it isn't the same price. Two people use twice the services.

    It's a wonder to me that they can't work around someone's talents and still get what the refuge needs and then some. Hope you can find more reasonable positions more to your liking in the future.

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  10. It's not surprising you enjoy history more now than when you were in school. (I'll try not to delve into a homeschooler-perspective rant here!) The things you are learning now are things you are interested in, and you are actually able to make a connection to the material, unlike sitting in a desk in a classroom listening to a teacher "lecture" or reading a book devoid of any character. So much easier to retain information when you engage so many different senses like you can when you are on location. Okefenokee looks GORGEOUS! I want to come learn too!! Maybe you can give me a lecture while we paddle through that cypress swamp! ;)

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  11. I bet that turtle never traveled that fast before! Great picture.

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  12. I guess turtle is not part of the gator diet. Neat picture.

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    1. Oh yes, alligators eat anything, including each other. Once at Brazos Bend State Park I found an alligator holding a turtle in its mouth trying to crush its shell. I didn't have time to see how that came out.

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  13. I agree - that's way too much to require. They're saying your lot and utilities are worth $1100/month, even if your hard work and expertise were only drawing $8/hour.

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  14. I am the same way about history. It is much more interesting now.

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  15. I'm gonna be on the wrong side of the fence with this one... But I think volunteering is about what you can give back not what's in it for you. If I put a monetary value on every experience I've had at a refuge... like watching the whooping cranes following an ultralight ... or rescuing a manatee and transporting it to a veterinary clinic... or trading out memory cards on game cameras on the West Mesa... I'd end up owing the refuge thousands of bucks! As for hours required... maybe that's the way the refuge weeds out those who are only volunteering for a great place to stay. So while we agree to disagree, I just have to defend the refuge on this one.

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  16. That turtle must like to live life on the wild side!

    I understand getting exhausted. When we do NOMADS projects we work 4 days a week but only 6 hours a day making a 24 hour week. Often the work is labor intensive. Even with only 24 hours, by weeks end I am all done in. Then by the end of the 3rd week, I am really beat. Once, only once, we did two projects back to back. Never again. I've thought about doing what you do but not sure we want to commit to months at a time.

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  17. Loved the alligator/turtle story--last winter in the Florida RV park often a turtle could be spotted sunning himself right beside the resident alligator--guess they live together nicely??

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  18. Great shots of the birds in flight!

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  19. I've seen cattle egrets on cows, horses, and hippos, but a turtle on the back of a gator is a first; nice catch.

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  20. As you know, Judy, we wholeheartedly agree with you!! Four days are way TOO much to "volunteer" for anyone - single or a couple. At four days, it is too much like a job and a six month assignment is 3 months too long! The sites are really not worth the price (hrs x $20+) if all you are thinking about is what's in it for you (as someone said). We liked to think that we were "giving something" to our government not what was in it for us. (By the way, couples don't always work together as a team. A couple works 48 hours and a single works 32) Hopefully some day all of the Refuges will start seeing things differently - as some already do.

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  21. 32 hours is way too many...I wouldn't even want that many for a part-time job.

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  22. Stick to your guns, Judy! Don't let them push you around, stand your ground and if all else fails, beat 'em with your cane. ;c)

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  23. Always thought that the word volunteer meant you were giving of your time...not required to give your time. In general organizations work around what the volunteer can give. I realize they must be able to have enough personnel so they can have schedules covered, but 32 hours is almost a full time job. I agree with the person that said they would probably get more volunteers if they lowered the hours/months requirement. Seems excessive to me. After all the site you are using would probably set empty anyway.
    Just my opinion.
    Donna.

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  24. I love the photos of birds in flight - those are the ones I'm always trying to get! Today's are great!

    I couldn't agree more about the volunteer hours. If I could work three days a week, 4 to 6 hours a day I'd volunteer in a minute. But that's what the couples get for each person. Every place I've asked, I was told I would need to work the same number of hours the two people in the couple work combined. They each work 18, I'd work 36. I'd rather be frugal. Honestly, it's not about what I would get, it's about what I'm willing to do. And if I wanted to work 36 hours a week, I'd get a job. I worked 32 hours per week in my last "real" job, and it was just about right for a woman my age.

    They are missing out on a lot of volunteers and workampers with this policy. As usual, couples get the shift, and single people get the shaft. :(

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  25. I can understand how hard it is to volunteer 32 hours a week. But, from the NWR perspective, they put in the RV sites to secure 48 hours of work a week per site, which couples put in. They allow solo volunteers to work 32 for the same site. We have volunteered for state and national parks as well as NWR and all required the same. On the other hand, we won't volunteer anywhere that requires 32 hours per person (lots of national parks now ask that of every volunteer).

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  26. aii yaiii yaiii. . .that's like havin' a job. . .isn't that what we're all tryin' to escape? I'm with ya on this one.. .seriously. . .and a 30 minute lunch break. . .soundin' more and more like a job. . .

    Janice
    ReadyToGoFullTimeRVing Blog
    FaceBook.com/ReadyToGoFullTimeRVing

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