Volunteer Spotlight – Gene

We asked Gene why he originally got involved with volunteering and what his experience has been:

There are a few reasons I got involved with volunteering. I have always been active volunteering most of my life, starting back in grade school. It’s seeing a need that has to be fulfilled and being able to fill it by mostly giving of one’s time and ability to do it. You may have a special skill or knowledge base to do it or are willing to acquire them.

Another reason is the sense of community. Since I didn’t serve in the armed forces I feel that by volunteering at Cuyahoga Valley National Park I am serving my country and contributing to one of its needs. I have been volunteering in some capacity at CVNP for about 20 years. I started as a hike assistant, then a lantern carrier for the Underground Railroad and Ghost Walk programs. After I retired, it snowballed into a few other programs, of which I enjoy Wildlife Watchers the most.

One of my favorite moments volunteering was one day while on Rail Rover duty. A five year old young lady was so excited seeing the bald eagles and their nest from the train. She had a remarkable knowledge of bald eagles and nature in general for someone her age. We must have chatted for ten minutes. I asked about any other interests she had. She told me she liked painting. Naturally I asked what her favorite things were to paint. She said she liked to do paintings of animals the most. So I asked her if she would do a painting for me. Her eyes grew wide and said she would and asked how she could get it to me. I said, “How about if I give your parents my email address and they could send it to me?” So two weeks later I received an email of a painting of the bald eagle in the nest that she saw from the train. I wrote back that I had shared the painting with the Rangers at the park with a photo of the painting being held by Ranger Larry and myself.