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Cheers for Extra Special Volunteers!

Read about extra special volunteers that we have thanked in our Nearby Nature Newsletter in this section of our website.

Thanks to ALL of our wonderful volunteers, and especially to the amazing folks below, who we have featured in our newsletter over the years in our Cheers for Volunteers column.


Fall 2016 Cheers: Summer Teen Outdoor Leaders

This fall, we would like to say a special thanks to our Teen Outdoor Leaders. We had a fantastic camp season this summer and we couldn’t have done it without these dedicated volunteers, who donated over 900 hours to the program. Our Outdoor Leaders helped with camp set up, led special activities, kept campers engaged, guided canoes along the canal, and shared their passions and enthusiasm for nature with their kids. Thanks to Teen Outdoor Leaders Hailey Engstrom, Lily Zeller, Emily Rice, Addie Belcher, Kai Hollenberg, Connor Gabor, Lucio Gutierrez-Higgins, Juliana Bachulis, Lia Wong, Naomi Friedman, Savannah Coen, Azara Tilt, Sahalie Pittman, Ava Schauer, and Katie Albright for making our camps more fun, adventurous, and engaging for all. We hope to have you back again next summer!


Summer 2016 Cheers: Roger Nichols and Bear Scamman

This spring we would like to thank two particularly dedicated spring nature guides — Roger Nichols and Bear Scamman. These two put in a combined total of nearly 100 hours in the park and without exception, were always amazingly cheerful, flexible, and up for meeting whatever challanges the day presented. Bear, who hails
from Maine, and Roger with roots in Britain, were SO much fun to have on site. Both have the kind of presence that make you think how did we ever do this without you?! We look forward to having these two continue with our programs this summer and beyond. Thanks so much Bear and Roger!


Spring 2016 Cheers: Advisory Council

This spring we would like to thank our Advisory Council members Peg Boulay, Rebecca Daniels, Alan Dickman, Pat Hasbach, Greg Hunt, Bruce Newhouse, Alice Parman, and David Wagner. These folks help us many times throughout the year, with everything from leading programs (thanks Bruce for leading our Treefrog Tunes Nature Quest in early March!) to answering questions about legal and accounting matters. Some of these folks have been with Nearby Nature since its very beginnings. We so much appreciate the time and talents they share with us and look forward to working with them for many more years to come. If you are interested in learning more about joining this group, or our Board of Directors, contact Executive Director Beth Stein at 541-687-9699 or


Winter 2015-16 Cheers: Valli Sanstrom

This winter we would like to recognize one of our great new volunteers, Valli Sanstrom. Valli came to us this fall with an open mind about how she would get involved and soon found a spot as a Nature Guides for our walks program. Before, during, and after participating in the walks program, she also helped with a variety of other projects, including special events, restoration celebrations, garden maintenance, newsletter parties, and more. A former PeaceCorps volunteer, Valli has begun to call Eugene home. We greatly appreciate having Valli in the Nearby Nature community and hope she will be with us for many seasons to come. Thanks Valli!


Fall 2015 Cheers: Read Wagar

Three cheers for summer daycamp intern Read Wagar! Reed has been volunteering for Nearby Nature since the summer of 2009 and we can’t imagine camp without him. Always cheerful, kind, and ready to help with anything, Read has been a true pleasure to work with over the years. Kids and parents love him and our instructors are always happy when he gets assigned to their camps. Currently a chemistry major in his final year at Cornell College in Iowa, we sure hope he comes back to work with us next summer before moving on to his next adventures!



Summer 2015 Cheers: Spring Interns Pammy Brutkus, Connor Henzel, and Shannon Keener

Three cheers this spring’s nature guide interns, University of Oregon students Pammy Brutkus, Connor Henzel, and Shannon Keener. In total, these three spent 123 hours on site in Alton Baker Park leading walks and pond study programs this spring. We truly could not have done it without them! It was really fun to work with this crew, and great to have their dependable support for the walks program as well as other projects. Special thanks to all of them for dressing up as Kinder Critters at the City of Eugene’s Public Works Open House. 1,000+ kids attended this fun event! We look forward to working with these three more in the future and wish them well in their summer adventures.

Spring 2015 Cheers: Lunch in the Learnscape Crew

At this time, Nearby Nature would like to give a shout out to its crew of Sunday afternoon Lunch in the Learnscape volunteers! Since early March, our Park Host Paul Catino has had the pleasure of working with volunteers Jasmine Lessing, Brit Lilhedahl, Madeline Middlebrook, James Dickerson, Sally Pierce, Manny Barra, McKenna Wilson, Leeann Snow and Matt Sweeney on most Sunday afternoons in our Learnscape Gardens. Thanks to this energetic and creative crew, we’ve built a covered seedling box for plant starts (using almost all recycled materials from BRING), planted the spring garden, chipped paths, built edges, cleaned up the Pollinator’s Playground, created garden art features, and so much more. It has been great to have a consistent group of dedicated volunteers for this important work. Our NCS students during the school year and our daycampers this summer will enjoy the fruits (and veggies) of our Learnscape crew’s labors. Thanks friends! We look forward to many more afternoons in the garden. If you would like to join this crew, please contact Paul Catino at or 541-687-9699.

Winter 2014-15 Cheers:Wenhui Qiu

This fall, we would like to thank one of our very favorite intern/volunteers, Wenhui Qiu. Currently a graduate student in Environmental Studies at the University of Oregon, Wenhui originally hails from faraway China, where he earned his undergraduate degree from Peking University in Beijing. A young man of many interests and talents, Wenhui was involved in a diversity of projects before he arrived in the United States, from working on a desert forestation program to serving as an interpreter at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. In his time at Nearby Nature, Wenhui has volunteered with just about all of our programs. Wonderfully creative, he always has so much to share with our kids...from amazing leaf origami for daycampers to beautiful photos of Alton Baker Park for kids on nature walk field trips. What a gift his time with us has been. Thanks so much, Wenhui, and all the best when you return to your home so far away.

Fall 2014 Cheers: Summer Daycamp Volunteers

For this summer, we would like to thank our amazing summer daycamp volunteers. These 24 teens, interns, and adults contributed so much to our camps. Many spent multiple weeks on site, from 20-40 hours per week. From telling weekly stories (thanks Yvonne!), to sharing unique crafts (thanks Wenhui!), to all of the many other talents you shared, we were honored to have your help. And wow, we really couldn’t have done it without you! This was our busiest summer ever, and our amazing instructors were so grateful for your cheerful and capable help. So three cheers for each and every one of you—we hope to see you back next summer!


Summer 2014 Cheers: Spring Intern Alex Nakamoto

This spring, we would like to send out an extra big thanks to intern Alex Nakamoto. Alex has been working with us since January, and during that time has managed to help out with almost all of our key educational programs — from school visits to school nature walks, Nature Quests to No School Days. He has also staffed activity booths, participated in work parties, helped organize daycamp materials, postered, and done hours of administrative work. Always willing to step in when help was needed, we have really appreciated his cheerful and generous presence on site and in the office. Thanks so much, Alex, and we sure hope to continue working with you in the future.

Spring 2014 Cheers: Christine Goldberg

This quarter, we would like to thank volunteer Christine Goldberg. Since becoming a volunteer in Fall 2013, Christine has both guided nature walks and worked in Nearby Nature’s Learnscape. Before coming to Eugene, Christine lived in Los Angeles for twenty-five years. She raised her kids there and knew about some of the area’s plants and animals. When she moved to Eugene, she wanted to learn those things here. “Nearby Nature has been very helpful, and the trainings are terrific,” said Christine about our Fall Walks Program. 
    Christine volunteers at Nearby Nature “because it’s such a nice program that teaches children about the environment.” She also really enjoys spending time outdoors. Her favorite thing about volunteering at Nearby Nature is learning about what’s in the park and then telling the children about it so they can see it, too. “It’s always enjoyable,” she says. “I like the way you can use different parts of the park to show the children the different biomes.”
    Thanks so much, Christine, for joining our family of volunteers. We look forward to working together for many seasons to come.

Winter-Spring 2014 Cheers: Fall School Nature Walk Guides

This winter we would like to give a shout out to our awesome fall school nature walk guides. These 23 wonderful volunteers spent 375 hours in Alton Baker Park with kids this fall, hiking trails, playing games, telling stories, watching birds, catching bugs, and so much more. Kids loved their time in the park with our guides, and sent back all sorts of sweet thank you letters. Lydia, a fifth grader from Springfield wrote: “I hope this letter finds you well. I am back in the classroom with my shoes full of mud and new thoughts in my head. Thank you for hosting us in Alton Baker Park. We enjoyed learning about the beavers and the different kinds of trees and also about the Kalapuya people.” Thanks so much to our dedicated guides for helping to fill the minds of local kids with new ideas, and occasionally their shoes with mud! We truly could not do this program without them.

Fall 2013 Cheers: Ed, Laurie, Sally, and Ian!

This fall, Nearby Nature would like to give a special shout out to a few volunteers who each have a special role at Nearby Nature that it’s hard to imagine anyone else playing. Thanks so much to all of you!

  • Ed Peara — our master pumpkin carver! Ed shows up every year a couple days before the Haunted Hike and carves up a storm. We think his record is somewhere over 25 pumpkins in one carving.
  • Laurie Anderson — our super-star-stapler-stuffer. Laurie regularly helps out at mailing parties, often at the last minute, always with a smile on her face, and usually with her own stapler!
  • Sally Keller — an amazing nature guide/school visitor/Kinder Critter. Sally is a woman of so many talents and so much generosity. She’s an essential part of our crew.
  • Ian Whitelaw — our master builder/tool provider/shelter decorator. Ian has helped us facilitate events since the beginning of Nearby Nature and can always be counted on to have duct tape, bandaids, Sharpies, and a hammer, right when they’re needed!

Summer 2013 Cheers: Spring Learnscape Interns

This spring, Nearby Nature would like to give a shout out to our amazing spring Learnscape interns, Joseph Laskin, Sarah Slager, Sydney Clagett Jenna Salazar, Connor Shields, Adrian  Robins, and Christopher Geno. Over the past three months, these dedicated volunteers have pulled five cubic yards of weeds, sharpened countless tools, built steaming piles of compost, planted all sorts of native plants, and biked in hundreds of buckets of coffee grounds for our compost piles. They have also planted corn, beans, nasturtiums, spinach, leeks, calendula, raspberries, chamomile, strawberries, daylilies, tomatoes, potatoes, and more. Altogether, by the end of the term, they will have volunteered 480 hours in the Learnscape! Thanks so much, spring crew, for all the work you have done to make our outdoor classroom so wonderful for this summer’s daycampers.

Spring 2013 Cheers: Rosie, Jason, Erin and Sally

Three cheers go out this spring for volunteers Rosie Ramshaw, Jason Pankiowicz-Waldram, Erin Moody, and Sally Keller. This wonderful group was an awesome team of assistants for our winter school visits program. From doing the Frog Hop to helping kids “Dress for the Water” these folks spent hours with kids in the community, helping teach about local natural history and the nearby nature web of life. Thanks also to Rosie and Sally, who have continued their volunteer work this spring, now dressing up as Kinder Critters to visit local pre-school and kindergarteners. Three cheers for you all!


Winter 2012-13 Cheers: Carl Brungardt

If you’re a regular visitor to the Whilamut Natural Area of Alton Baker Park, you’ve probably noticed something different in the past six months...less graffiti! For our cleaner park, especially around the Frohnmayer Footbridge, you have volunteer Carl Brungardt to thank. Ever since June 2012, this retired teacher has been working behind the scenes to keep our park graffiti and litter free. Thanks to his regular bucket and brush work, our park looks great these days. Thanks so much, Carl, for your donation of 50+ hours to our work in 2012. We look forward to our continued partnership in 2013.

Fall 2012 Cheers: Summer Interns

What would we do without our summer interns? Daniel Sapiro, Ariel Vieweg, and Kristy Granger were invaluable members of our summer staff this year, providing us with all sorts of creative activity ideas and hundreds of hours of support for our teachers and office staff. Kids loved getting to know these wonderful helpers, who worked with campers of all ages. We were all sad to see them move on this fall, Ariel back to her home in California, Kristy back to her home in Forest Grove, and Daniel on to his next adventures after graduating from the UO. We’ll keep our fingers crossed that they will make daycamps at Nearby Nature part of their agendas again next summer. Thanks again, friends, and best of luck with all your adventures in the coming year!


Summer 2012 Cheers: Cynthia Waters

Every once in awhile someone steps up to the plate at Nearby Nature, goes well beyond what is asked, and basically becomes like another staff member. This spring, that person was Cynthia Waters. Cynthia started volunteering at our 20th Birthday Party and hasn’t stopped since! Willing to help out in just about any capacity, she spent 55+ hours leading nature walks for our school field trips program, dressed up as Grandma Spider at the City of Eugene’s Public Works Open House, staffed information booths at spring events, worked in our Learnscape Gardens, and painted our sandbox. We so appreciate Cynthia’s positive energy, quick smile, and many skills. Thanks a bunch for all your help, Cynthia. We hope you will be part of our crew for a LONG time!


Fall 2011 Cheers: Bella Music and Evan Stone

A huge thanks to all of this year’s daycamp volunteers, who shared so much of their time and talents with our summer programs. What a great crew! We had six returning Outdoor Leaders, nine new Outdoor Leaders, four interns, and one adult volunteer. A super big thanks goes out to intern Bella Music and Outdoor Leader Evan Stone. These two consistently went above and beyond—arriving early, staying late, and jumping in to lead activities whenever needed. Evan was particularly helpful during our Green Team camp. His team-building activity ideas and cheers for our kids made the week a very positive experience for all. Bella, who was also a spring intern with our school walks program, was truly a superheroine on paper-making day when she power-blended scrap paper for the kids for hours! It was also great to see her all summer long put to work the skills she had developed as a guide in the spring. Three cheers for all!

Summer 2011 Cheers: Eagle Scout Dominick Luna and Scout Troop #679

A huge round of applause goes out to volunteer Eagle Scout Dominick Luna and the great crew of boy scouts and parents from Troop 679 who gave our Nature Hut building a huge facelift in June. Armed with nothing more than tools, talent, and time, these folks arrived at our site and did more work in two days than we ever could have done ourselves during this busy summer. We LOVE our new shelves, stairs, equipment ramp, and easy-to-open door! It is amazing to walk into our building and have space to move around and such nice shelves for storing our equipment and supplies. Thanks so much to all of the scouts and their parents, but especially to Dominick for initiating this lovely project. We look forward to working with Dominick and his crew on more projects in the future.

Spring 2011 Cheers: Winterns!

During the winter of 2010-early spring 2011, Nearby Nature had four Winterns! These wonderful students spent 120 hours each working in the Learnscape and on park restoration projects. Thanks so much to Andrew Roll and Chandler Wherry for their many hours of planting, pruning, composting, mulching, weeding, and creating in the Learnscape. The lovely stick-and-wattle fences they built as well as their work on the Natives Hedgerow and Loose Parts Playspace have significantly enhanced our space. We are also grateful to intern Oona Badgley, who did all sorts of creative work on our composting systems. Thanks to Oona, our giant worm bin is up and running and we have an artistically painted tumbling composter built out of recycled bike parts and a 120 gallon drum from BRING. Finally, restoration intern Zev Levine pulled yards of invasive ivy and blackberry out of Wildflower Hollow, helped lead volunteer group ivy pulls, and started a planting plan for the less diverse part of the Hollow. Wow! It’s amazing what just four dedicated interns can accomplish in a few short months. Thanks so much to all of you!

Winter 2010 Cheers: Sally Keller

Once in awhile, a volunteer comes along, and helps out in so many vital ways, over and over again, that you just can’t imagine the group without her. Nearby Nature’s Sally Keller is one of those wonderful folks.

A seasoned educator with years of experience, Sally enjoys kids of all ages, in all sorts of weather, inside and outside. Time after time, and often at the most critical times, Sally answers our call for help. One of our only volunteers who conducts classroom visits on her own, this winter Sally played an especially key role in our program. Almost evrery week she visited a school, teaching kids about everything from Willamette River history to aquatic animals. Thank you so much, Sally, for all your contributions to our work. We couldn’t do it without you! 

Cheers for our Fall 2009 Nature Guides!

This fall, we were especially grateful to our wonderful volunteer nature guides and student interns. These folks showed up in Alton Baker Park, rain or shine (and there was LOTS of rain this fall), smiles and teaching hats on, every weekday morning from late September through mid-November. For two plus hours, they wandered the park’s woods and meadows with excited kids in tow, teaching about everything from river ecology to Kalapuya Indians. In the words of one of this fall’s visiting teachers: “Even with the torrential downpour, I kept hearing ‘That was the best field trip ever!’ all the way home.” Three cheers for the dedicated folks who spent nearly 500 hours making this program a great success this fall. An especially big thanks to interns Casey Pagels and Duncan Geisler, who spent 60+ hours each at the park this fall!

Cheers for our Spring 2009 Interns!

Wow! What an awesome group of interns we had this spring! Three big cheers for Tracy Wright, Sierra Predovich, Renee Gabriel, Yael Grundstein, Nicolette Getty-Beck, Meesh Michan, Sarah Jo Pond, and Clare Gordon. These eight enthusiastic, creative, and dedicated volunteers led nature walks (all eight) and directed pond study (Tracy, Renee, Meesh, Sierra, and Sarah). They painted murals for our Learnscape (Clare and Nicolette) and created a cool new watershed model (Sarah). They helped with the newsletter (Tracy) and worked with our composting program (Clare). We certainly would not have accomplished nearly as much this spring without them. Lucky for us, Tracy, Nicolette, and Yael will be sticking around for the summer as well. Thanks so much to all of you for your many contributions!

Cheers for our Winter 2008-2009 Learnscape Volunters!NCS students finish planting the Native Pollinator's Corridor

What fun it has been to get started in earnest on our Learnscape this fall and winter! And how wonderful it has been to see a whole new crew of volunteers involved in our projects. For folks who love to get their hands dirty, their feet wet, and their brows sweaty, our site work has been so much fun. And even our artistic friends have had a chance to put their talents to work! A big thanks to Dan Peramabo for building a really cool 4’ x 8’ worm bin (vermitopia), Kelly Casad for creating two lovely murals, Teresa Finn who has come to many of our Saturday work parties and helped removWonderful nature art graces Nearby Nature's Learnscapee the VERY well-rooted privet hedge (whew!), Yotokko Kilpatrick for helping with the native pollinator’s corridor, Bruce Newhouse for helping with native plant selection and placement, Leslie Johnson who is painting a water birds mural, Thea Evenstad who is creating a site map, and Ian Whitelaw who is designing our new sandbox. Much gratitude also to Rainie MacDonald, Whitney Doneilson, Jason Snyder, Monica Ortiz, Liza Kachko, Nora Cosbey, and the South Eugene High school SERV volunteers and our NCS students for hours of mulching, dirt moving, and planting!

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