Those who care about wildlife in New Hampshire have a new way to lend a hand. The Stewardship Network: New England launched a new website at newengland.stewardshipnetwork.org that makes it easier for people to volunteer for nature-based projects, including those focused on wildlife and their habitats. Our goal is to connect more citizens to the outdoors through meaningful, well-organized land stewardship and environmental research volunteer projects.
The Network is mobilizing volunteers to care for and study lands and waters. Since the website’s launch last spring, the Network has connected hundreds of volunteers with more than 70 conservation partners on over 120 different volunteer workdays, research projects, and volunteer trainings. Forty-eight of those events were wildlife-related: vernal pool mapping in Keene, glass eel counting in the Seacoast, planting shrubs for New England cottontails, counting bats, monitoring marsh birds and nighthawks, restoring butterfly habitat, pulling invasive plants, and more.
The Network also links individuals, families, teachers, or schools, with citizen science projects. These volunteer opportunities contribute data and observations to a science project organized by a researcher or conservation group. Currently, there are 23 citizen science projects with a focus on wildlife in New Hampshire and nearby regions, all of which need volunteers. This summer, Paul Ambrose, a business owner from Portsmouth, volunteered to help count and sort baby oysters for The Nature Conservancy. “I came because I wanted to see what the Stewardship Network events were all about. I love the ocean and I always like oysters. Eating them, I mean! The weather was supposed to be nice and I knew I had time off [that] morning. The Network made it easy to find something to do.”
Volunteers can screen citizen science projects according to their interests--such as wildlife--and the amount of time available to give. Given people’s busy schedules, the easier it is to find and join a volunteer opportunity, the more people can participate and help wildlife.
This summer the Network hired University of New Hampshire students as interns to help with stewardship and citizen science efforts for the Network. Intern Jo Lewis worked with five different organizations on stewardship. “My experiences this summer have really opened my eyes to the intricacies and breadth that stewardship and conservation covers,” said Jo in one of her Summer Stories for the Network’s website. For our conservation partners, having an intern for a portion of a summer meant not having to find, hire, or manage an intern for the entire summer. “Hiring anyone for a short period of time is hard for federal agencies,” reported Jeremy Lougee of the Natural Resource Conservation Service. “Having Jo for two weeks to help with our baseline easement monitoring was terrific. I look forward to working with more interns next year.”
Volunteers and conservation groups in Southeast New Hampshire have another opportunity to participate with the Network. The Southeast NH Hub brings together professionals and volunteers quarterly to plan stewardship projects and share resources and expertise. Coordinated by UNH Cooperative Extension’s Emma Carcagno, the Hub gatherings offer a way for people working on stewardship in a region to meet face-to-face. “So far, we’re planning stewardship workdays for next year and a training workshop to help town volunteers monitor their conservation easements,” says Carcagno. “It’s great to hear how much towns and conservation groups have in common, and how volunteers--and the Network--can help.”
Want to learn more? Anyone can join the Network by signing up for weekly e-bulletins detailing upcoming on-the-ground stewardship and citizen science projects. And check out the website for upcoming volunteer events.
The Stewardship Network: New England launched in 2013, when UNH Cooperative Extension worked with partners and volunteer organizations to start the Network in New Hampshire. The Stewardship Network: New England extends the successful work of The Stewardship Network in the Great Lakes region. The Network is working with interested partners in other New England states too.
By Malin Clyde, Program Manager, The Stewardship Network: New England
Taking Action for Wildlife Fall 2014 Newsletter