By HANS MADSEN
Messenger staff writer
There's a brand new posse in John F. Kennedy Memorial Park.
Friends of Webster County Conservation volunteers Colette Salmon, left, and Doug Breyfogle, prepare to load up some mulch for distribution on a trail in the Veterans Park section of John F. Kennedy Memorial Park Wednesday morning. The two volunteers are part of a new core group of volunteers who spend time each month working in the park on various projects.
They're not looking for outlaws but they are on the hunt for things to rake, mulch, cut, trim, paint, dig and otherwise spruce up, repair and fix.
There is, according to Webster County Conservation Naturalist Karen Hansen, plenty for them to do.
"The work in the park seems to be endless," she said.
To help answer that call, a group of core volunteers from the Friends of Webster County Conservation group will be spending a few hours working one Wednesday per month.
Doug Breyfogle, of Fort Dodge, spent Wednesday morning helping to cover a trail with mulch as part of the groups inaugural work day.
"We needed an ongoing volunteer program," he said. "There's a lot that needs to be done that regular staff doesn't have time to do."
While the still unnamed group of volunteers work a regular day and time, he said that for someone who can't make the date, "They can come out and volunteer on their own time too."
Colette Salmon, of Fort Dodge, was also part of the first day's work.
"I walk out here all the time," she said. "I feel it's important to give back."
She said she had spent part of the previous day walking in the park. On the work day, she helped clear a trail where a crew had cut down invasive species.
Salmon said she likes the hard work and her time in the park.
"It's good for the body and the soul," she said, "We got some work done and had some fun."
She also enjoyed the company of her fellow volunteers, both those familiar and those new.
"It's nice to meet some new people," Salmon said.
Dennis Feddersen, of Fort Dodge, was also part of the day's crew.
A recently joined up member of the Friends of Webster County Conservation, he spent a good part of Wednesday spreading mulch on a trail next to Badger Lake.
"I like to do something physical and outdoors," he said.
He's not picky about what sort of work they find for him.
"I don't have a grand plan," he said. "I just want to go out and do something that's useful for Webster County Conservation."
Karen Hansen said that having a regular group of volunteers working during a set time helps make planning easier and that it helps ensure reliability. She also said it makes it easier to assure everyone has safety training.
The volunteers are important.
"There's a lot of work that would not get done without volunteers," Hansen said.
Hansen hopes the core group takes off and that they can add more scheduled days. She's also trying, along with the group, to come up with a good name.
"It will have stewardship in it," she said. "Our focus is taking care of the land."
She also plans to have the group work in other areas managed by Webster County Conservation.
"We hope to move them around," she said. "They'll be able to see other areas Webster County has."
She is also searching for funding to purchase "Stewardship Tubs." These would simply be tubs with tools in them that volunteers could check out, take into the park to work on a project, then return when they're done.
She said this would allow a family to come out on a weekend and work together as a unit.
"We'll have a work list," she said.
Of course, working outdoors requires nice weather.
Breyfogle promised that in the future, this would be the case.
"We'll always have nice weather like today," he said.
To sign up for future work days or to ask about other volunteer opportunities, contact Webster County Conservation at 576-4258.
Contact Hans Madsen at (515) 573-2141 or firstname.lastname@example.org