Lackawanna State Park is looking for volunteers.
The park held a Conservation Volunteer Meet and Greet and Eat recently, in which various volunteer groups were recognized and made presentations on their contributions to the outdoor facility.
The event was overseen by Angela Lambert, who works at the park as an environmental educator, as well as the volunteer coordinator.
Lambert explained that people wishing to volunteer at the park can obtain the necessary information at the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources website (www.dcnr.pa.gov). In the ‘Hot Topics” tab, interested parties will find descriptions of various volunteer services, plus the necessary application forms.
Following Lambert’s presentation, Margaret Hatch and Lisa Antagnoli spoke about nest box monitoring, which they and the others perform at the park. Hatch explained that there are 36 nest boxes at the park, providing a haven for such birds as house wrens, blue birds, and tree swallows.
“We check the nests on a weekly basis from mid-April to mid-August,” she said.
Antagnoli said it is fascinating, watching the birds as they build nests in the boxes and lay eggs which eventually hatch.
Rob and Beth Smith spoke about studying the migratory habits of birds traveling through Lackawanna State Park. Rob Smith is a biology professor at the University of Scranton, and he and his wife band the birds to study their habits.
“You have to get up before sunrise,” Rob explained about the banding process. “We’re usually finished by 9 or 10 a.m.”
Aluminum rings are placed on the birds’ legs, allowing data to be recorded and collected. Banding usually occurs between mid-April through May, as well as mid-August to mid-November.
Trail steward Joe Tierney covered the importance of maintaining trails. Tierney explained that he and his volunteers work on about 25 miles of trails throughout the area.
What they do is cut brush back and perform other maintenance work to make certain the trails remain clear.
“We do maintenance on an as needed basis,” Tierney explained. “People marvel each time a storm occurs why no trees fell on the trails.”
Actually, Tierney said, 120 trees fell on the trails over a three-year period - which were removed by the maintenance crews. He also said the crews put in about 660 hours each year maintaining the trails.
Jim and Linda King serve the park as camp ground hosts.
“I pay a mortgage on my house, yet I live here all the time in a recreational vehicle,” Jim King said with a laugh.
The Kings have been camp ground hosts at the park for the past 20 years. They function as a liaison for the park with the campers using the facilities.
“We act as hosts,” he explained. “We pick up the garbage, put out fires, and make certain everything is working in the rest rooms. We go out of our way to make certain everyone is comfortable. That’s our job as camp ground hosts.”
Park Manager James Wassell explained that he started out as a volunteer at Lackawanna State Park. Wassell said enjoyed the experience so much he decided to make a career out of it.
“We couldn’t do many of the things we do here without volunteers,” Wassell said.
Volunteers can either be individuals or groups, he said. The park has a program where Eagle Scouts will serve as volunteers to help with various park functions.
“We have a lot of stone walls around here,” the manager explained. “Some people like to climb on them, and as a result they need care. The scouts who working on them get experience in such areas as masonry.”
Conservation volunteer Janet Crowther said that the biggest event at the park is the annual Winter Fest, held in February. It’s a busy time for everyone, and volunteers are especially needed to help with the various activities.
Attending the event was Michael and Kate O’Neil of Nicholson.
“We’re not volunteers, but we’re thinking about doing it,” Kate O’Neil explained. “We come out here a lot, and we’d really like to help out.”