Doing Good Together July 2008 Newsletter

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Doing Good Together Newsletter )
Helping strengthen kids and communities through family volunteerism... June 2008
in this issue
  • Park Volunteer Projects
  • Close Encounters of the Natural Kind
  • Inspiration
  • Delivering More than Farm Education
  • News From DGT

  • Not that long ago, children spent much of their lives outdoors - exploring fields and orchards, building treehouses, hunting for grasshoppers. Now it can require a special effort to get families into the open air. Volunteering in a nearby park or wilderness area is a good way to spend time in nature with your family, while making it nicer for others to enjoy as well. Happy summer!

    Jenny Friedman, Executive Director

    Park Volunteer Projects
    Volunteers at state park

    Make a Difference...
    Volunteering at your local, state or national park lets you enjoy the outdoors and also make a positive environmental impact and meet like-minded people. In fact, volunteers are often critical to managing and maintaining our parks. Help is needed for a range of short- and long-term projects, such as habitat restoration, trail maintenance, beach cleanup and more. For many projects, no commitment or training is necessary. Contact the national, state or local parks in your area and ask about family volunteer opportunities.

    Photo: Vounteers at work in North Carolina State Park

    Close Encounters of the Natural Kind
    Nature in a Nutshell for Kids

    Talk About It...
    Teaching children about the environment and experiencing nature with them is beneficial and fun. It nurtures their sense of wonder, encourages physical development and helps bring science to life. What's more, children who form a personal relationship with nature will be tomorrow's environmental stewards. Here are activities to encourage that relationship.

  • Go on a bug hunt. Grab a small jar and search under leaves, on tree trunks and in flowers. Be careful with the bugs and always release them when you are done.
  • Do environmental chores together. Have your children help with recycling, the compost pile or gardening. Talk about the value of each of these chores and how they make a difference for all of us.
  • Try a nature scavenger hunt. When you're at a park or wilderness area, create a list of items to search for. (Choose items they'll probably be able to find.) Some possibilities: pinecones, dandelions, maple leaves, spiderwebs, grasshopper, feathers and ferns.
  • Create a nature notebook. Keep a record of what you've found during your nature excursions. You can include pressed flowers, photos you've taken and drawings or sketches. Write about your adventures
  • Learn About It...
    For more ideas, check out Nature in a Nutshell for Kids: Over 100 Activities You Can Do in Ten Minutes or Less by Jean Potter. These short activities are easy, educational and entertaining. Perfect for ages 9- 12.

    Photo: Nature in a Nutshell for Kids: Over 100 Activities You Can Do in Ten Minutes or Less by Jean Potter


    "Nature-deficit disorder is not an official diagnosis but a way of viewing the problem, and describes the human costs of alienation from nature, among them: diminished use of the senses, attention difficulties, and higher rates of physical and emotional illnesses. The disorder can be detected in individuals, families, and communities."

    Richard Louv, Last Child in the Woods

    Delivering More than Farm Education
    Jessica Tessman on â€Å“Lamb Watch.â€Â

    The mother-daughter pair Deb and Jessica Tessman has volunteered for nearly three years at Gale Woods Farm, a working educational farm operated by Three Rivers Park District in Minnetrista, Minnesota. As city dwellers, the Tessmans had reasons to explore volunteer opportunities there. By age 12, Jessica had mapped out her career path: farming. Her mother thought that some real experience could provide an overview of the joys and challenges that lay ahead. Jessica also knew the importance that farm experience would lend to her college application.

    The volunteer role that immediately attracted Deb and Jessica was the "Lamb Watch." Each year, as the ewes get close to delivering their lambs, the park relies on volunteers to help keep a 24-hour watch in the sheep barn. Lamb Watch volunteers, who are specially trained on how to handle the birthing process, work in overnight shifts to give the sheep farmer time to rest. (A walkie-talkie is available in case of emergencies.) Since they began volunteering, Deb and Jessica have helped deliver five new lambs. This spring, mother and daughter worked several shifts without seeing an ewe give birth. But on their last scheduled watch they were able to assist a lamb being born. As it arrived not breathing, Jessica competently applied the techniques she had learned in training to encourage respiration; the lamb quickly started breathing on its own.

    Deb and Jessica are so taken with life at Gale Woods Farm that they volunteer independently as well. Deb has led a hay wagon farm tour, and Jessica leads young groups though barn station activities during the weekly summer Farm Days. Although Jessica had a full schedule, she makes time for Gale Woods. She enjoys the leadership experience and ongoing opportunities to broaden her farm knowledge. Deb enjoys seeing her daughter living out her passion-- especially in moments as touching as when Jess napped on a hay bale snuggling a young lamb. For Deb and Jessica, the farm experience is so rewarding that they wouldn't trade it "for anything in the world."

    Photo: Jessica Tessman on "Lamb Watch."

    News From DGT

    Twin Cities families are invited to the quarterly Saturday-morning volunteer events called LOVE IN [DEED], sponsored by Wooddale Church in Eden Prairie, a DGT partner. It's a guaranteed easy way to make a difference and teach your kids the value of helping others. The church is prearranging all projects, sites and materials, so you simply show up, choose the project that interests your family, then enjoy your foray into service alongside other families and individuals.

    Date: Saturday, August 2
    Time: 8:30 a.m. - noon
    Location: Meet in the Wooddale Church Gym, Door 5, to choose a volunteer site
    6630 Shady Oak Rd.
    Eden Prairie, MN 55344

    For more information about the specific projects slated for Aug 2, visit LOVE IN[DEED] or contact Rebecca Oehrig at 952-944-6300 or The next event is Oct. 25.

    If you know of other nonprofits or a social service agency that would benefit from materials to help recruit, educate and celebrate family volunteers, we can help. Please contact us for information.

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