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#1 Rick & Karen

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Posted 01 February 2012 - 10:03 PM

We have just started our first volunteer gig! We are at the Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge near Freeport, TX. Today was our first day and if everyday is as great as today this will be a great place to volunteer. Everyone is so nice and welcoming. Lee Gaston is the Manager and Volunteer Coordinator and seems like a very laid back guy.

Right now the Refuge is playing host to Sandhill Cranes along with many other species of animals. Lots of birds of course, after all this is the Texas Gulf coast. Saw my first Eastern Meadowlark yesterday and lots of Rosette Spoonbills. This area also is host to upteen gagillion mosquitoes!!! We were immediately swarmed by them when we arrived on Monday. I think they were all humming "Great, fresh meat!" We now know that you must spray twice a day with insecticide and wear you mosquito jacket whenever you are outdoors.

We have a spot in the volunteer village with full hook ups and propane when we need it. We work three days, from 9-4. Not a bad gig at all!

Come see us if you find yourself in the area. We will be here for 2 months.

Karen
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#2 GR 'Scott' Cundiff

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Posted 01 February 2012 - 10:20 PM

Karen - for future reference, would you share your duties - this is something we might be interested in in the future.

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#3 Kirk

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Posted 01 February 2012 - 10:27 PM

We had a great time when we were there back in 2002. Just wondering if Jennifer Sanchez is still the Project Leader for the Texas MidCoast Complex? If so, tell her hello for us!

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#4 aussie1

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Posted 02 February 2012 - 05:47 AM

So pleased you arrived safely. Have a great time and see you soon. Hugs from us
Norm & Paula
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#5 VetRVer

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Posted 02 February 2012 - 01:46 PM

Sounds great. I plan to do volunteering a lot when I am able to get back on the road.

Brian
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#6 MeanderMan

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Posted 02 February 2012 - 08:55 PM

We also were there a few years ago; at the time Lee was the assistant manager and just about to be married - he always had a smile and a positive attitude; please tell him that Keith & Brenda said hello!

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#7 mptjelgin

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Posted 03 February 2012 - 07:11 AM

Congratulations on your first volunteer gig. Teri and I are a bit farther south on the Texas coast at Laguna Atascosa NWR. We are performing bird surveys for the Wetland Biologist here. We volunteered at Santa Ana NWR last winter and led bird walks. The National Wildlife Refuges are great places to volunteer, and they offer so many different types of work. Have fun!

Mark
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#8 Rick & Karen

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Posted 10 February 2012 - 11:33 AM

We had a great time when we were there back in 2002. Just wondering if Jennifer Sanchez is still the Project Leader for the Texas MidCoast Complex? If so, tell her hello for us!

Hi Kirk
Yes. Jennifer is still the Project Leader and doing a fine job too.

Karen
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Blog site is www.mytripjournal.com/ontheroadwithrickandkaren

#9 Rick & Karen

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Posted 10 February 2012 - 11:41 AM

Karen - for future reference, would you share your duties - this is something we might be interested in in the future.


Right now Rick is helping out at the Brazoria office with some woodworking project such as signs etc. He is also helping with the relocation of supplies that were in storage at the Demi John Island storage building to the storage areas at the Brazoria office complex. Next Saturday he will be going out on the waterways to help pull up abandoned crab traps. Lots of things to do around the refuge. As for me I work 2 days at the Discovery Center (visitor center), Tues and Thurs which are the days when the school children come out for their field trips. Unfortunately the weather has not cooperated so far and trips have been cancelled so I cannot speak to what my job duties will be at those times. So far it has been visiting with drop bys and telling them about the refuge, sharing good birding spots and what letting people know what had been seen where on that particular day. On Wed I work in the office at the Brazoria office. Lee always has something for me to do. So our days go by so fast and it seems like before we know it another week end has rolled around.
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#10 Rick & Karen

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Posted 10 February 2012 - 11:42 AM

We also were there a few years ago; at the time Lee was the assistant manager and just about to be married - he always had a smile and a positive attitude; please tell him that Keith & Brenda said hello!



Keith and Brenda, Lee says Hi back!

Karen
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Blog site is www.mytripjournal.com/ontheroadwithrickandkaren

#11 altsclmarm

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Posted 12 February 2012 - 02:24 PM

Tons of mosquitoes is a given at the refuges along the Gulf Coast no matter what time of the year. :rolleyes: Refuges Rock!
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#12 Kirk

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Posted 12 February 2012 - 06:55 PM

Yes. Jennifer is still the Project Leader and doing a fine job too.

I hope that you passed on a hello from us!

Our first year there we were at Brazoria, Volunteer Village and after a short time were asked to commute over to San Bernard where the new manager wanted some volunteer help. That new manager was Jennifer and she was also very pregnant! She was very easy to like and she soon had it arranged for Pam to take over her office and fix the flies, clean out old records from long past and to do away with the "piling system" which had been left to her by the manager just prior to her. Pam worked on Jennifer's office for most of the six weeks that she was out and by the time she had finished Pam and she had become fast friends.

In my opinion, Jennifer Sanchez is the most talented and hard working Project Leader in the entire USFWS system. And we have been on ten different facilities of the FWS and several more than once. My friend Steve at Swan Lake NWR is possibly a tie.....................

Good travelin !...............Kirk
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#13 Rick & Karen

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Posted 13 February 2012 - 12:00 PM

I hope that you passed on a hello from us!

Our first year there we were at Brazoria, Volunteer Village and after a short time were asked to commute over to San Bernard where the new manager wanted some volunteer help. That new manager was Jennifer and she was also very pregnant! She was very easy to like and she soon had it arranged for Pam to take over her office and fix the flies, clean out old records from long past and to do away with the "piling system" which had been left to her by the manager just prior to her. Pam worked on Jennifer's office for most of the six weeks that she was out and by the time she had finished Pam and she had become fast friends.

In my opinion, Jennifer Sanchez is the most talented and hard working Project Leader in the entire USFWS system. And we have been on ten different facilities of the FWS and several more than once. My friend Steve at Swan Lake NWR is possibly a tie.....................


Hi Kirk
Unfortunately we haven't had the opportunity to meet Jennifer as of yet, but if and when we do we will certainly pass on a big hello from the both of you.

Karen
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Blog site is www.mytripjournal.com/ontheroadwithrickandkaren

#14 GR 'Scott' Cundiff

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Posted 13 February 2012 - 12:15 PM

Thanks for sharing the job description Karen - we hope to be wintering in the somewhere-just-south-of Houston area each year beginning a few years from now.

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#15 nana25k

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Posted 13 February 2012 - 05:23 PM

So glad that you are having a great first experience. We have loved every refuge we have been at.

Ron & Linda

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#16 Kirk

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Posted 14 February 2012 - 09:09 AM

Thanks for sharing the job description Karen - we hope to be wintering in the somewhere-just-south-of Houston area each year beginning a few years from now.


If you want to know what it is like there, check out these pictures from the time we spent there. :)

Good travelin !...............Kirk
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#17 Rick & Karen

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Posted 16 February 2012 - 09:38 PM

It was a great day at the Refuge today. We had a sunny day (well sort of) and so our scheduled school group arrived promptly at 9:00am. We had 77 4th graders and it was FUN! They did a section on photography, which they took to like ducks to water and were looking at things they probably had never looked at before. Then a section in the schoolroom lab on aquatic invertebrates and for most of them the first time to look at specimens under a microscope. They then spent time in the display area identifying the wildlife on display. After lunch we boarded the bus and went out on the refuge and had a section on herpetology. It was exciting to see the kids overcome their hesitation to touching snakes. We even had a baby alligator to touch and learn about. Back onto the bus for a section on seining. They caught so many fish (tiny ones) and even a small blue crab. For our final section we were back on the bus for a lesson on using binoculars and identifying birds. These 10 year old students for the most part were excited to learn new skills and to learn about the refuge.

This refuge is blessed to have some fantastic volunteers from the community. They are all retired former employees of the various petro-chemical companies with Dow Chemical being the primary representative. They were chemists and engineers for the most part. What a fantastic asset. Can't wait until Tuesday when our next group is scheduled.

Safe travels everyone,
Karen
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2005 Ranger Bass Boat;
Blog site is www.mytripjournal.com/ontheroadwithrickandkaren

#18 GR 'Scott' Cundiff

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Posted 16 February 2012 - 10:27 PM

Thanks for the link Kirk - I checked out the photos. Also, thanks Karen for the nice report. We aren't far from you - we'll have to bring the grandkids down and look around.

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#19 Rick & Karen

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Posted 18 February 2012 - 08:58 PM

Thanks for the link Kirk - I checked out the photos. Also, thanks Karen for the nice report. We aren't far from you - we'll have to bring the grandkids down and look around.

We would love to see you. We will be here until the end of March. We may take a quick trip up to Missouri to see our daughter the first week of March but otherwise we are here. Be sure and bring plenty of mosquito spray!

Karen
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Blog site is www.mytripjournal.com/ontheroadwithrickandkaren

#20 Rick & Karen

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Posted 07 March 2012 - 08:27 AM

Well, we have been here at the Brazoria Natl. Wildlife Refuge for a little over a month now and I thought that I would post an update.

We have enjoyed this position so much. The work at the Discovery Center and working with the local volunteers and the students had been very enjoyable. The local volunteers are first rate and the Refuge and the community is so fortunate to have these very talented and committed people who are so willing to share their abilities with us. Also the Fish and Wildlife staff are wonderful to work with and so appreciative of everything that we do.

Last week the service held a Volunteer Appreciation dinner. It is nice to be recognized for our labors. One of the returning volunteers, Dennis Mudderman, was recognized as the Refuges' Volunteer of the the Year. He works here in the winter and in Minnesota in the summer and last year was recognized as the National Volunteer of the Year. Dennis works at the Discovery Center with the school children but most importantly he has written several grants that has earned the Refuge tens of thousands of dollars for various projects. The refuge is very fortunate to have Dennis as a volunteer.

The only drawback here are the mosquitoes. We are always hoping for windy days since that does help keep them away. Small price to pay to be able to work in an otherwise very pleasant position.

We hope that you will toss your hat in the ring to work here. Volunteers are needed year round but especially during the school year.

Safe travels
Karen & Rick
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2005 Ranger Bass Boat;
Blog site is www.mytripjournal.com/ontheroadwithrickandkaren