Preston Nichols is one of the passionate future conservationists whom the Nature Center is so proud to mentor in its volunteer program. I met with Preston in March to discuss volunteer opportunities at the Nature Center. Preston showed plenty of enthusiasm during his interview and was excited to dive into the opportunities we have available for volunteers. He stated he was interested in working in this field in the future and would like to get as much experience as possible.
Preston started as a weekly Animal Care volunteer, assisting us on Mondays taking care of our wildlife ambassadors. He quickly expanded his volunteer resume with new roles in the Natural Guard, at the greenhouse, and as a canoe guide. His attention to detail, eagerness, and commitment to learning new things have made him a pleasure to be around and work with.
Building these connections with staff and other volunteers led to more opportunities for Preston as we started to get into our summer activities schedule. Every summer, Nature Center staff hosts a free program called Camp Paddle & Cast for the children from our Fort Worth community center partners. In this program, we teach the kids how to canoe, fish, and camp. An instructor is hired every year to lead the program. While brainstorming on possible instructors, Preston instantly came to mind. His level of dedication toward volunteering and learning new skills made him a good candidate for the position. Preston enthusiastically accepted the position and spent the summer guiding children through these activities.
In three short months, Preston progressed from volunteer to contract instructor. Now that summer is over, he is back to his regular volunteer roles and has started his college career to help him reach his goal of getting a full-time job in this field. His growth at the Nature Center is a testament to what hard work and building connections can do. We are looking forward to helping Preston reach his goals and continuing to foster an environment of mentorship for our youth and future professionals in conservation.