BY: Jaime Jovanovich-Walker, Community Outreach Coordinator
Merriam Webster defines the act of serving as follows: to answer the needs of; to contribute to; to provide services that benefit or help; and to be the lifeblood of the Palouse Land Trust and the lands that mean so much to all of us. (OK, I threw that last one in there, but it’s definitely the most important).
For some, “serving” is a requisite for a passing grade. For others, it is a religious or moral imperative. And for many of us, it is woven into the fabric of one’s being, a way to give of our skills, time, blood, sweat, and sometimes tears, for the causes and organizations that make our hearts light.
For whatever reason you give of yourself in service, I just needed to tell you that you are not just helping out. You’re making a massive difference in the world. You’re serving the lands we love and the community that binds us and makes us whole.
Each year, with support from the Palouse Environmental Sustainability Coalition and the UU Church, the community gathers for a work party at Idler’s Rest. Did we start this great service opportunity? You bet your buns we didn’t!
It took the commitment and passion of a concerned visitor to the preserve to kickstart this annual event – someone who saw something wrong and instead of asking, “why doesn’t someone do something about that,” said, “hey, John Bolles, get out here and let me show you how hard it is to access the trails and then let’s do something about it!” Now, each year, devoted folks gather to clear trails, make accessibility improvements, and care for the treasured space. Talk about serving the land and the community.
But service doesn’t just happen on super fun work days (seriously, they are) at Idler’s Rest. It happens on the unforgiving and steep sides of Highway 95, just north of Moscow. A few weeks ago, six amazing PLT family members came out on a Sunday morning to clean our adopted stretch of highway, not only for the health of the land, but for the health and happiness of our community. Believe me, this is no easy task and the terrain is definitely not as flat as it appears when whizzing by at 60mph. These folks are truly amazing – and thankfully not afraid of snakes, which were in abundance.
And where would we be without the numerous Eagle Scouts who complete critical projects at Idler’s Rest and other PLT properties? Next time you’re out at the preserve, notice the stairs at the eastern end of the cedar grove, the repaired bench at the top of the Highland Loop Trail, the new wildlife-safe fencing along the northern meadow edge, and the interpretative trail markers. Scouts and their families have made these fantastic improvements over the last several years. The alternative? Let’s just say I’m a duct tape and zip tie kind of gal, and my results might be less than functional.
Last, but certainly not least, we are so fortunate to have several Land Trust family members who literally live to serve. They are Scouts, Rotarians, Kiwanians, Lions, and the like. They are people who see a project that needs a little more TLC than a work day can provide, and take it upon themselves to continue the work in the days and weeks, maybe even months it takes to complete.
They serve on the board, or lend their expertise freely and willingly, to ensure that the mission and the good work of the organization is accomplished. They are the first to say, “I’ll help,” when the call goes out, and the last to leave at the end of the day.
These outstanding souls serve the lands we love, and strengthen and enrich our community in ways that cannot be adequately expressed. To all of our volunteers, you truly make so much possible and we salute you today, and always.