I would like to highlight one of our volunteers: Jude Hathcock. Jude has been attending Nature Center programs regularly with his family since April 2019. In the summer of 2021, we restarted our summer day camp programs, Summer Natural History Adventures. Jude had expressed an interest in assisting with our summer camps, so we decided he would be a good fit for the entering 6th and 7th-grade group. Jude was up for the challenge and spent the week helping me work with the students so that their needs were met and everyone received proper attention.
After summer camp was over, Jude decided he could potentially want to work in this field one day and asked about volunteering in other capacities. His next volunteer effort was in animal care. He has been reliably assisting us with animal care every Thursday morning since August 2021. He efficiently completes all of his tasks associated with taking care of our wildlife ambassador animals and has even written one of his school reports on our bull snake. Being the go-getter that he is, Jude has also decided that he would like to help us with school tours in the spring as a docent. Docents assist park naturalists by leading school groups of various grades on guided interpretive hikes, helping spark their curiosity and love of nature.
Jude’s ambition and desire to continue learning and teaching inspired our education staff to create a volunteer intern position for him. We will be looking at ways he can assist us in a variety of areas, giving him a well-rounded experience of what it is like to work in this field. Did I mention that he hasn’t even graduated high school yet? A special shout-out to his mom, Marsha, for guiding him and encouraging him to follow his passion.