I have conversations with our office manager, Leigh Patterson, frequently about the value of our volunteers and how much they are appreciated. Leigh and I comprise 1.5 employees (Leigh works part time), so the two of us could never in a million years accomplish what this organization does without the hundreds of volunteers we engage with over the course of a year.
The KALB Commission consists of volunteer board members who oversee the organization. These volunteers are the foundation that keeps KALB on solid ground. Without these men and women and all the event volunteers that step up when needed, KALB could not exist.
So what have we done lately?
KALB tries to have a presence at community events as often as possible. We started the year off with our Tree Seedling Give-Away at the Home and Garden Show in Athens. Hundreds of seedlings in a variety of species were given away to Limestone County residents to help replace the thousands of trees that were destroyed during tornado seasons. This is the 4th year we have teamed up with the Alabama Forestry Commission - Limestone Division to make this happen.
In March, 87 volunteers showed up in West Limestone ready to join the Elk River Canoe & Kayak Trail Cleanup. Those 87 volunteers removed 4,850 lbs. of trash and debris from the river and surrounding land areas. That is over a ton LESS than what was removed from the same area by a similar number of volunteers the year before. Our message is being heard.
Leading up to our Earth Day & Outdoor EXPO, volunteers drew up designs for exhibitor placement, then redrew them when the event was moved due to weather predictions. Others hung posters, made phone calls, built bird feeders, prepared the supplies for the recycled crafts, and helped brainstorm ideas. Dozens of volunteers worked at the EXPO, many behind the scenes just making things happen. There were nearly 2,000 attendees and a record number of exhibitors, which has made it necessary to move to a larger location in 2016!
A group of dedicated volunteers have worked to make the Farmer’s Market Community Garden a great success this year. Several baskets of produce were taken to the LCCI Food Pantry in Athens to be distributed to our neighbors in need. Volunteers worked with Athens State University and the Truancy Intervention Program (TIP) bringing together students, parents, and KALB volunteers to tend the gardens.
School is about to start (always too soon), and KALB staff and volunteers will once again be doing Classroom Presentations teaching students about their role in caring for our environment. A variety of topics can be covered including the dangers of litter, why we recycle, creating a garden that welcomes wildlife, water conservation, the importance of trees, and lots more. Programs are designed to meet the needs of the teacher and the age group. Two retired teachers volunteered to help with presentations this past spring because we had so many invitations!
You will see KALB's presence at the Old Time Fiddler’s Convention as nearly 100 volunteers hand out litter bags, provide opportunities for recycling to guests and vendors, and help keep the college campus grounds clean during the weekend event.
During the month of November, KALB presents the program at all county 5th and 6th Grade 4H Club Meetings. Working with the Extension Office's 4H Coordinator allows us to reach hundreds of students with an environmental message. Next year, we will add the 4H clubs in the city schools to our agenda.
Several volunteers have joined the Adopt-A-Spot Program by agreeing to keep a roadway or walking trail picked up monthly. KALB provides trash bags, gloves, litter grabbers, as well as cash rewards to organizations when an adopting group or individual fulfills the requirements. Interested? There are locations available for adoption.
There is so much more to KALB. This article doesn't even touch on the work done by our Athens-Limestone Beautification Board and the Athens-Limestone Recycling Center! If you are interested in learning more about volunteer opportunities, we'd love to hear from you. We truly love and appreciate our volunteers!
By: Lynne Hart