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Sunset at Seney National Wildlife Refuge, Michigan
Sunset at Seney National Wildlife Refuge, Michigan
Photo Credit: USFWS


At Work at Arapaho


A landscape with mountains in the background at Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge
Arapaho National Wildife Refuge, CO
Photo Credit: Virginia Heitman
As full-time RVers, we bring our own house-on-wheels to each refuge we visit, where we receive a site with full hookups and sometimes other amenities. We perform all sorts of tasks. Both of us were raised in a large city and RVing came late in life. Yet we enjoy refuges that are remote and offer only one or two RV sites.

Let's start at White River National Wildlife Refuge in Arkansas (elevation 160 feet). Tony learned how to operate a GPS unit to record locations of assets in this 160,000-acre paradise. He later learned how to input the data into a computer and create a PDF file, along with creating hyperlinks to the photos of the assets. We then roamed the 90-mile long refuge, taking GPS coordinates and photos of the 160 different types of signs. Tony was able to learn about trees while assisting a forester once a week during a Certified Tree Inventory.

We enjoyed the opportunity to pursue their mutual interest in history by researching the refuge work by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1935. Marguerite used the information to develop the commentary for an eight-minute video in the Visitor Center. We helped set up a recycling program for the refuge, which we had done at other refuges. Marguerite also spent many enjoyable hours creating a Junior Ranger Manager workbook.

At Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge in Colorado (elevation 8,200 feet), Marguerite performed routine clerical duties and tended to Charlie, a red-tail hawk that had been mounted. She brushed and combined Charlie's feathers. She also collected wildflower seeds to be used in a wildflower garden. She especially enjoyed greeting visitors at the visitor center.

Tony worked outdoors, doing what he has done at almost all of the refuges – painting buildings. He also worked with the Wildlife Restoration Volunteers to build a boardwalk along the nature trail. In addition, he managed the recycling program. In August, at age 70, he became certified to operate the John Deere tractor, mowing grass along refuge roads. Quite a thrill for a city boy!

We have spent the past seven years serving as volunteers at state parks and national wildlife refuges. For the past three years, we have concentrated on refuges. Why refuges? Refuges offer an opportunity to learn new skills, to view fascinating wildlife, beautiful scenery, and to work with wonderful people.

Last updated: July 14, 2009
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