I have been living here at the Eagle River Nature Center for 14 months now as a resident volunteer (since then, they’ve also given me the title of Artist-in-Residence). I moved in one year ago last October for what was initially going to be a winter stay, until they asked if I would like to stay on through the summer and now for another winter. Recently, I asked if I could stay through next summer, for a total of two years, and the staff obliged. In the end, I will have a body of work, which I plan to turn into a project that will be announced at a later date, when the details have been worked out.
Yesterday evening at our annual Holiday Potluck, two of us were given the honor of being named “Volunteer of the Year” for 2015 – local volunteer Steve Rasic and myself. Places like this, typically managed by non-profit organizations, run on volunteer power. Without all of the wonderful people who donate their time and effort, we could not exist. While I was humbled and honored to receive this recognition, I have to say that this has been one of the greatest opportunities that has ever come my way. Living here at the Nature Center and having this beautiful mountain valley for a backyard has allowed me to immerse myself in photography and writing, as well as accomplish a number of goals that I simply would not have been able to do otherwise. Building my new website, for instance - something that I had been trying to do for years – finally came to fruition last winter.
I will proudly display my “Volunteer of the Year” plaque and continue to give back to this organization as much as I can. Honestly, though, I don’t feel that I could possibly repay what I have gained here, both personally and professionally. So I would like to thank the ERNC staff and community that have provided me with this incredible opportunity and continue to keep me around. I am confident that someday when I look back on this time and fully realize the benefit of being here, I will say, “I would not be where I am today without the Eagle River Nature Center.”