Kevin Jones and Cheryll Compton

Kevin Jones and Cheryll Compton in kayaks - Cheryl Bloomer.

After retiring five years ago, we decided that our primary interests were to travel and to volunteer for worthwhile not-for-profit organizations. We have been extremely pleased with the volunteer experience at the four National Wildlife Refuges (NWR) that we have so far had the pleasure to volunteer at. The Wallkill River NWR has been one of the best volunteer experiences to date. In fact after spending the summer of 2010 at the Refuge, we decided to return for the spring and summer of 2011.

We found the facilities provided for us were top notch; a full hook up site including 50 amp electric service, large cement pads for our RV and a pleasant, quite, wooded area for our residence on wheels. (We have been visited by wild turkeys and an occasional black bear at our campsite.) Propane was also provided by the Refuge as well as a clothes washer and dryer. Our Verizon cell phone and computer air card has great reception at the campsite and throughout the area.

Our primary task at the refuge was to lead canoe/kayak trips on the Wallkill River. After being certified in Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation and First Aid, having a group trip with Refuge staff and enjoying our own exploratory kayak trips, we felt well prepared to lead participants on these introductory trips. The participants appreciated having knowledgeable trip leaders who pointed out beaver dams, wildlife and an eagle’s nest, as well as the kayaks that were provided to them free of charge. We noted that many of the participants enjoyed the experience so much that they would sign up for additional trips. Perhaps kayaking on the river is the best means of experiencing the wildlife and solitude of this phenomenal Refuge.

In addition to leading canoe/kayak trips, we provided trail maintenance, removed litter and developed additional programs for the general public including a children's birding program as well as modifying a firefly program. Overall, the assigned tasks have been enjoyable and productive. Refuge staff has been extremely cooperative and friendly making the overall experience at the Wallkill River NWR a rewarding experience.