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HandsOn the Community: Green Thumbs, Gold Hearts Spruce Up Local Nature Center

May 8, 2012

Volunteer Leader Stacy Corona shows a young volunteer which part of a tree needs to be pruned.

It may only be 9:00 AM, but on this particular Saturday morning in April, the Mary Vagle Nature Center is rocking with activity. Scattered about the center’s fields and walkways, close to a dozen people can be overheard chatting and laughing as they prune, weed, and gather green waste to recycle. Their personal reasons for attending vary, but they’re all here to accomplish the same goal—sprucing up the nature center as part of the “Green Thumbs, Gold Hearts” gardening program.

The brainchild of Mary Vagle Community Services Coordinator Rick Dean and Volunteer Leader Stacy Corona, the goal of the “Green Thumbs” program is simple: to ensure that the nature center is kept in such good shape that it can be enjoyed by generations of individuals to come. “For [people of] all ages and interests, the Mary Vagle Nature Center is a wonderful community place,” says Stacy. “What the garden project offers is a fun and relaxing way to ensure the natural setting is enjoyed by the public for many years to come!”

Community Services Coordinator Rick Dean (left) shows volunteers a type of plant they should avoid while collecting green waste.

One of the best parts of the program, Stacy points out, is that absolutely anyone can take part in it—not just experienced gardeners. “Green thumbs or not, the gardening project is such a fun and easy way to preserve nature and enjoy such a wonderful space!” she says.

A quick conversation with any of the volunteers and you can tell that they strongly agree. “We’re here representing the gold hearts,” laughs one volunteer as she gestures to herself and her husband, “because we definitely don’t have green thumbs!”

“That’s why I’m glad Rick and Stacy are here,” offers another, playing along as he chuckles. “I figure they can just point at whatever needs to be collected and I can help take it from there.”

Both dad and son gave their volunteer experience two green thumbs up!

However much a volunteer can offer to the program, one thing Rick makes abundantly clear his appreciation for all of their effort. “At the beginning of the day the field was really overrun with weeds,” he notes. “Now it’s nearly in perfect shape for our Wild Zone event next week! The work these volunteers did is really, really noticeable and I’m very thankful for it.”

When asked what they hope volunteers take away from this program, Rick and Stacy are quick to respond. “We really hope they had fun today while they were helping give back to the center,” says Rick. “Definitely,” echoes Stacy. “And we hope they want to come back!”

For more information on the “Green Thumbs, Gold Hearts” program, including its exact meeting dates, please see the calendar of events on the HandsOn Inland Empire website:

This article is part of an ongoing series of posts highlighting volunteer opportunities in the Inland Empire. Stay tuned for many exciting future installments!

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