I’ve always been confused by the term- “work party.” It seemed like a marketing ploy to trick people into doing work without getting paid. However, since I started working with the Land Trust, I’ve participated in quite a few work parties and discovered that as a volunteer, I’ve gotten much more out of the experience than I expected- and probably more satisfaction than the Land Trust gained from my measly contributions. Work parties are more about connection- spending time with friends and enjoying the feeling of being outdoors and doing something meaningful. This year, I was surprised and delighted when my wife, Elisabeth (Lis) told me that she wanted to have a work party with friends and family at Maple Creek Reach for her birthday. We all know people who have selfishly given birthday (or Christmas) presents to spouses/partners that were really meant for the enjoyment of the giver rather than the recipient- “hi honey, I got you a BBQ grill. It’s going to be awesome this Summer!” When my wife told me she wanted me to organize the work party for her, I had to keep asking her if that’s really what she wanted, because I was feeling selfishly thrilled about her request. After confirming that this was her heart’s desire, I went about organizing the party to pull invasive Scotch broom, which is an ongoing menace at Maple Creek Reach- our riparian forested habitat along the North Fork of the Nooksack River. When the day arrived, I got there early with Lis and the kids and we set up signs, tables, refreshments and laid out the tools, gloves and other supplies. Just like a normal party, there was a 30 minute period of worrying whether anyone would show up and then relief when the guests began to arrive. We were thrilled to see many of our friends and their kids who were now fully vaccinated in the beautiful outdoors working together for a common cause AND to celebrate Lis’s birthday after a year of isolation and mostly remote interactions. After several hours of hard labor (I warned people ahead of time that we were serious about the “work” component of the “work party”), I led the attendees on a tour of Maple Creek Reach explaining the history of the property, our vision of restoring it to its previous incarnation as a functioning riparian wetland and its role in our regional efforts to restore salmon populations. By the afternoon, when we had packed up and were on our way home, we were basking in the glow of sunshine, friendship and the true feeling of stewardship.
If you’d like to schedule a private work party for your workplace or group of friends, please contact- Jenn Mackey, our stewardship director: firstname.lastname@example.org