If you are a devout and dedicated EarthFitter, than you may be aware that a main component to EarthFit is what I call “Experiencing Nature”.  Getting outdoors and connecting to the earth in healthy ways is the core of EarthFit, and there are dozens of ways to foster a better appreciation for nature and the environment (as discussed in this Blog post).  Appreciating nature is a more passive method of conserving the environment, but there are avenues to give back to your passions.  Most organizations are truly appreciative of monetary support, and many rely on supporters to continue to preserve and protect what we hold so dear.  However, if you are like me, and have limited funds, another great way to support your favorite outdoor outlet to nature is to volunteer.  Think of it as “Giving with the Heart” rather than from the wallet.earth_heart2

I like to think of volunteering as the vocation of Experiencing Nature.  The possibilities are quite endless, and there are opportunities for every person doing a variety of tasks.  In July I became a volunteer at the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge, and it has been my one haven and blessing in a year full of disappointment and frustration.refuge center  I have worn several hats at the Refuge, including customer service and front desk, rover, book club host, Puddle Stomper, Interpretive services, and even invasive species remover (although after two severe bouts of poison oak, I retired from that post).  I firmly believe in the mission of the Tualatin River Refuge, which is to connect visitors to the wonders of nature, and to make that connection easy, accessible, and fun.

Because my husband and I were not sure how long we would be staying in Oregon, I decided to get involved further in assisting the refuge achieve it’s goal by training to be a volunteer Naturalist.  I already had shadowed several programs, so I knew it would be fun to learn more in order to present the programs myself.  And the other volunteers are so great to be around.  They inspire me and cheer me up in an instant.Tualatin River Bird Fest, Meghan Kearney, USFWS 028

When I first started at the refuge, I already had an intense appreciation for nature and conservation.  But, believe it or not, the refuge has made that passion blossom even more.  I feel a need to share my experience and hope with others.  I want to see the spark ignite in our younger generation, or the rekindle a love lost in adults.  In a world where we are becoming increasingly separated from the wildness that resides right outside our front door, the refuge invites us to take a step into ourselves and become whole again.  This connection isn’t just for conservation’s sake, but for our health and well-being.  It is the reason that “Experience Nature” is a core component of EarthFit, and why I believe it is my duty, and my pleasure to give back what was so freely given to me.  I don’t have a lot of money, but I can give with my heart.

What is your passion that you give back to?