Asbury Woods Environmental Ed Center In Erie Recognizes Outstanding Volunteers

On September 26, the Asbury Wood Environmental Education Center in Erie recognized the work of its volunteers who play a vital role in helping them achieve their goals of conserving the land, connecting people to nature and inspiring environmental stewardship.

In the past fiscal year, 285 volunteers spent 7,747 hours of their time caring for the Woods and sustaining our educational programs.

The Center also announced the recipients of Asbury Woods’ annual volunteer of the year awards to individuals and an organization that went above and beyond in their efforts to inspire a greater sense of environmental awareness, sustainability, and stewardship to Center visitors.

“It’s so exciting to be honoring these individuals who exemplify the spirit of volunteerism and are helping us connect people of all ages to the conservation and stewardship of nature. We truly appreciate all of our volunteers, and I wish to congratulate the honorees,” says Jennifer Farrar, Asbury Woods Executive Director.

The award winners are--

-- Adult Volunteer of the Year - Cindy Gathers: Cindy grew up in Millcreek not too far from Asbury Woods and always loved walking the trails, so when she retired and was looking for a place to volunteer, Asbury seemed like the perfect fit!

Since 2016 Cindy has given over 741 hours (and counting!) of her time helping us in visitor services, with maple production, during festivals as an exhibit greeter, and with Monday Music I the Woods concerts.

She is always willing to fill in when we put out a call!

Cindy said that she, “Loves the variety of volunteer opportunities to choose from, the people I get to meet and talk with, the love of nature that is shared with others and, of course, feeding the fire in the sugar shack in winter!”

Congratulations and thank you to Cindy Gathers, our 2023 Adult Volunteer of the Year!

-- Youth Volunteers of the Year - Alaina and Lilly Nichols: Identical twins Alaina and Lilly Nichols have been volunteering at Asbury Woods since 2020.

With a combined total of 524 hours, this dynamic duo first devoted their time as Animal Care assistants and more recently as assistants with our Summer Camps.

The first memory they have of Asbury Woods is visiting during elementary school field trips.

“We always looked forward to learning from Mr. Steve (Wasiesky), hiking in the woods and seeing the animals in the Nature Center.”

Now they love helping with our summer camps, getting to see the campers learn about the outdoors, and getting to teach them about the animals in the Nature Center. 

Congratulations Alaina and Lilly on being named our Youth Volunteers of the Year!

We love seeing the younger generation come full circle and give back as you two are. Thank you for all your time and energy, and we hope you will keep it going!

-- Group Volunteer of the Year – Erie Homes for Children and Adults: Erie Homes for Children and Adults (EHCA) has been sending volunteers to Asbury Woods every week this year to help with indoor and outdoor maintenance, compiling a lifetime total of 186 hours.

“The EHCA Move Program has been a long-time volunteer at Asbury Woods. We value going there, enjoying nature, and making connections. All the participants say that they appreciate being involved in the community and helping at a place that they love to visit!” said Cindy Olson, Program Specialist for EHCA.

We admire their commitment to Asbury Woods, their hard work in the surrounding gardens, cleaning of the facilities and wanting to make this a better place for the community to enjoy.

Congratulations to EHCA for being our Group Volunteers of the Year!

Asbury Woods will present the awards during a special event on September 28 at the Center located at 4105 Asbury Road in Erie.

Asbury Woods

The mission of Asbury Woods is to inspire a greater connection to the natural world by protecting, managing, and interpreting our property; providing outdoor recreational opportunities; and offering environmental education experiences.

Asbury Woods achieves this mission through a diverse array of educational, environmental and recreational programming for schools, community groups, families and individuals of all ages.

In addition, Asbury Woods manages and maintains 216 acres of preserved property which includes native species, old-growth forests, landscaped gardens, wetlands, boardwalk trails and dirt trails.

The Andrew J. Conner Nature Center at Asbury Woods is the cornerstone of educational programming, providing animal exhibits, a touch-and-learn Discovery Classroom and free public access.

The Brown’s Farm Barn located on Sterrettania Road provides additional programming space for summer camps, school visits and community programs.

The Greenway Trail at Asbury Woods consists of adjacent tracts of land which provides a network of trails connecting Browns Farm and the Nature Center.

The Greenway Trail provides ample recreational opportunities for hiking, running, biking, skiing, snowshoeing and wading in Walnut Creek. Trail users will find peaceful spots to rest and relax to take in the serene vistas.

Asbury Woods is an independent, nonprofit organization whose mission is made possible by funding from program and service fees, grants, special events and generous donations from members and patrons.

Annually, Asbury Woods positively impacts thousands of people who use the trails, attend festivals or participate in education and community outreach programs.

(Photos: Cindy Gathers; Alaina & Lilly Nichols and representatives of Erie Homes for Children and Adults.)

[Posted: September 26, 2023]


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