Volunteer Spotlight: Corinne & David Ramage
Francis Beidler Forest is an 18,000-acre bird and wildlife sanctuary tucked away in Harleyville. It has two parts: 1) the cypress-tupelo hardwood forest and swamp is the world’s largest, virgin swamp forest, and 2) the new Grasslands-Woodland Trails that wind through the woods and an open field where young, recently planted Longleaf Pines stand tall.
My husband, David, and I have had an enriching and fulfilling past year of volunteer work at Beidler. Although scheduled to volunteer once a month, we make ourselves available whenever help is requested on special projects.
Among my volunteer duties… I have cleaned and filled the many birdfeeders at the entrance to the Grassland-Woodland Trail and also noted the birds visiting for the center’s record. Recently I saw my first Goldfinch without breeding plumage, and over the past few months many Painted Buntings in their multi-colored beauty at this location. While cleaning off the storyboards on the Woodland Trail, I saw two female Bobolinks and one male in a neighboring field, and a black Mink darted across my path only 20 feet away!
I have also cleared the trails and boardwalk of debris after storms, checked the cumaru planks on the boardwalk for damage, painted shadow boxes for Audubon to be used for birds nesting on the ocean beaches, helped with events at the location, assisted with banding of the magnificent Prothonotary Warblers, observed their nesting habits, helped with the weekly monitoring of the baby Prothonotary Warbler chicks in their nests in the swamp, entered bird banding data into the computer, and reported and documented lightning strikes in the swamp.
While volunteering in the center/gift shop at the beginning of the 1.75-mile boardwalk through the swamp, I have answered questions about Lucy the 6-foot Greenish Rat Snake and Checkers the Corn Snake, priced and tidied the merchandise, registered visitors, and checked out customers.
Over the past year, I have seen baby armadillos, a Canebrake Rattlesnake, many Cottonmouths and Rat Snakes, turtles (Yellow Bellied Sliders, Snapping Turtles, a Mud Turtle and a Spotted Turtle), deer, otters, alligators, spiders galore and birds aplenty. Mostly recently the elusive Winter Wren has made some appearances.
Walking the boardwalk and the trails and interacting with visitors to Beidler allows me to participate in the ultimate Master Naturalist work – inspiring people to care about the beautiful world around them through gentle, meaningful interaction.
About David… Besides working in the center/gift shop, he is a superb photographer and has been photographing with a vengeance when we volunteer. Whatever project I am involved in, he is probably there taking the documentary photos. He also put together a very impressive magazine of Beidler’s Biggest Second Saturday event.
Check it out here: http://blurb.com/b/11211820-biggest-second-saturday (Be sure to click on PREVIEW to see it.)
See his nature photos at http://DavidRamage.com.
Volunteering at Beidler has meant we get to hang out with truly wonderful and knowledgeable people, and protect thousand-year-old trees and the wildlife – all while attuning to the quiet flow of the blackwater. There is no place like it. Forest Bathing (shinrin yoku) at its best!
Volunteer opportunities are limited because of the limited hours Beidler Forest is open to the public. To get the details go to http://beidler.audubon.org and click on “Volunteer.”
If you’d like to come and check things out, David and I are at Beidler in the mornings on the first Saturday of every month and also on December 31st this month.
Come visit and we can do some Forest Bathing together,
Corinne S. Ramage
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