Hoffler Creek seeks volunteers

Published 10:09 pm Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The Hoffler Creek Wildlife Preserve Foundation is hoping to triple its volunteer roster this year.

The preserve recently received a $5,000 National Environmental Education Foundation grant to build a structured program to recruit community volunteers, said executive director Helen Kuhns.

With just three regular employees, Hoffler Creek depends upon volunteers’ help at the 142-acre wildlife preserve that sits on Portsmouth’s Lake Ballard, near the Suffolk border, she said.

Email newsletter signup

Although volunteers logged 2,100 hours working at Hoffler Creek in 2015, few of them returned regularly to volunteer, Kuhns said. Most people helped on a one-time basis, such as military commands or Boy Scout troops that volunteered as a special project.

The exception was a core team of 15 volunteers who help lead the preserve’s kayak program, she added.

Officials hope that’s about to change.

Hoffler Creek, located at 4510 Twin Pines Road, is holding its first onsite volunteer orientation from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. May 25. The orientation will be an opportunity for prospective volunteers to see and become familiar with Hoffler Creek’s mission and history, and available volunteer openings, she said.

Although any volunteer service is appreciated, the open house will target people willing to work up to four hours a week — particularly during the busier spring, summer and fall seasons, Kuhns said.

“We are very excited,” said Kuhns, who would gradually like to have a pool of 35-45 volunteers to rotate through positions.

Kuhns plans to have volunteers take on more active, leadership roles: leading walks, greeting the public, working in the preserve office, representing Hoffler Creek at promotional events and helping with daily kayak tours and launches.

Ideally, this would free up some of the staff’s time to focus on grant writing, partnership development and community outreach, Kuhns said.

“I expect this to develop slowly over time,” Kuhns said. “People are busy … and hesitant to obligate themselves to a regular commitment.”