The Spirit of Volunteerism

by Julie Rose, Educational Services Director
Dimensions Educational Research Foundation and Nature Explore

One of my very favorite quotes is by Margaret Mead who said, “Never doubt that a small group of committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”  I believe that. In my work at Dimensions Foundation and Nature Explore, we live that.

Over the years, I have had the honor and pleasure to work with so many people committed to re-connecting children to the natural world. Some of those people are volunteers.   So just what is it that motivates a person to become a volunteer?  I grew up in an era where volunteering for your community wasn’t required. There was no obligatory clean-up day or mandatory volunteer hours for high school or college like today. However, in my family, existed this unspoken spirit of volunteerism. I believe it was my parents’, even my grandparents’ actions that spoke louder than words. Intrinsically, those actions felt like something I wanted to do, moreover needed to do. Somewhere in my childhood I knew I had the desire to make a difference. I still do. Seven year old, Kalyn Dobos, said it best, “When kids volunteer, it tells others they don’t have to be perfect or famous or even grown-up to make a difference.” I wish I could have said that at seven years of age.

Recently, I was on the phone with this wonderful “grown-up” retired couple, Patrick and Mardelle Kopickny who are busy volunteering their time creating a Nature Explore Outdoor Classroom at Harrison Hills Park in Natrona, PA. I always love talking to them because they ooze enthusiasm for connecting children to nature. Mardelle enthusiastically said, “We want the new generation of children to have the same experiences that connected us to nature in such positive ways.” I hope I get to go back to this site someday to see first-hand what a dedicated group of volunteers can create together! So here’s to all the Patricks’, Mardelles’ and Kalyns’ of the world, this small group of passionate volunteers who are committed to changing the world. No doubt!

If you would like to volunteer or want to find some enthusiastic volunteers in your area, visit our Nature Explore Community Connection Volunteer Page and watch an informational video introducing volunteer