We have new benches!
Together, we have begun a long-awaited project that will offer our community another meaningful connection to nature. Thanks to your $7,000 in donations and over 300 hours of volunteer service, now roughly 60 people can sit and admire the beauty of Jepson Prairie.
On a clear spring day when the ground was wet and fairy shrimp were growing in Olcott Lake, Solano Land Trust staff and volunteers met to install beautiful new benches and interpretive signs at Jepson Prairie. The day yielded a successful result of a yearlong effort that had begun with a vision and a weld.
Ken Poerner and Dave George, long time volunteers, have put forth a significant amount of time and effort into the Jepson Prairie visitor area upgrade project that will serve student and adult visitors for years to come. With Dave prepping materials, and Ken leading the staff, the workday went seamlessly.
Dave has fifty years’ experience welding, twenty-eight of which were spent as a welding instructor for Solano County. Dave sourced the donated stainless steel for this project and volunteered over 24 hours of cutting and welding the bench and signposts. Clearly, he was the right man for the job. This former teacher of the year (2004), now works part-time teaching construction trades in alternative-education schools in Napa and Solano counties. In his spare time, he often volunteers for Solano Land Trust. When asked why he helped with this particular project, he says, “I enjoy repurposing things, and it’s a win for everybody.”
Ken, retired United States Air Force and Solano Land Trust’s former field operations manager, is now one of our most active volunteers. He has led the overall implementation of the Jepson visitor area improvement plans, including the bench and sign installations.
Ken was prepared and managed to keep all the staff operating at an efficient pace. He had already spent over 40 hours on other upgrades at Jepson, and there is still much to do. Why does he do this? He cares. “Like the Jepson Prairie docents and donors, I really care about the property. I also want the docents to know how much we appreciate all their efforts on the ground,” says Ken.
Benches are an important means to connect people to nature; so are other people. During the spring season, Jepson Prairie docents will foster that connection by sharing their extensive knowledge of the wildflowers and critters that abound during the season.
We are able to accomplish great things with your generous support and by leveraging the countless volunteer hours that allow us to stretch donations to their full potential. Although the larger vision of the Jepson upgrades still has a way to go, we thank you for giving our community another opportunity to enjoy this natural land.
By Deanna Chedsey, Development Associate. Photos courtesy of Di Holokahi, Ken Poerner, and Charlie Russell.