Volunteer With Soldiers Delight Natural Environment Area
Featured Volunteer – Chad Moore
How long have you been a volunteer?
I have been volunteering with the Maryland DNR for approximately 1 year.
What do you do for employment?
I currently work in the commercial flooring industry. Our company, Fishman Flooring Solutions has been in business since 1919. Today we're 100% employee owned and we're among the top 25 flooring distributors in the United States.
How long have you lived in the area?
I've lived in the Washington, D.C./Baltimore area since the late 90's. The last five of which I've been in Baltimore City.
Do you volunteer other places besides Patapsco Valley?
No, I dedicate all of my time to Soldiers Delight NEA.
What is your favorite thing about Patapsco Valley?
My favorite thing about Patapsco Valley and Soldiers Delight are their proximity to Baltimore. Living in the city has positives and negatives. I'm always grateful when the weekend arrives and I can escape the city to the great state parks that surround Baltimore. Whether I'm out for a hike, fishing, hunting or volunteering I always enjoy getting away from the concrete jungle and spending time in Patapsco Valley learning about local wildlife, plants or the park's history.
What volunteer projects are you involved in at Soldiers Delight/Patapsco?
I started out doing trail work at Patapsco Valley last fall. From there I went on to Soldiers Delight NEA and helped them restore the serpentine ecosystem by removing invasive plants from the area. When that project was complete for the season I helped staff the visitor center at Soldiers. Recently I received training with the Scales and Tales program working with birds of prey, reptiles and amphibians, a project I hope to have more time for in the future.
Describe one of your favorite volunteer memories with Patapsco.
Ahh.. One of my favorite volunteer memories was when Wayne Tyndall, State Restoration Ecologist, told us why removing invasive plants from the area is so critical to saving Soldiers Delight's ecosystem. Up until that point I was volunteering for selfish reasons. I wanted to get out of the city.... I wanted to spend more time in the parks.... I just wanted a change of pace in my life. While that felt great I really didn't have any idea why we were in the middle of the woods cutting down all these trees! By the second weekend of the project I started to doubt our mission. I had always been taught to plant a tree, not cut them down. I remember getting half way through the day, sitting down to lunch, tired from hauling trees and thinking, this is it I'm done. Then at the very end of the day, just as we were wrapping up Paula asked Wayne to tell us a "story" about the restoration project we had been working so hard on. By the end of the story my thoughts had gone from "I'm never coming back here" to "I can't wait to work on this project for years to come." It changed my reason for being there and gave me motivation to work on this project long term. I thank Wayne for that. By the way, if you want to hear the story you'll have to join us for SERP restoration this winter.
Why is it important to you to volunteer?
Volunteering is important to me for many reasons. First, I just want to get out of the city and back to nature! Second, I am an avid outdoors-man, fisherman and hunter. I believe that if I'm going to use park lands to my benefit I should give them something in return. Volunteers are critical to the park system and I'm glad to help out where needed. Last, would be the impact my work has on the environment. It's amazing how everything in nature is connected. It's a great feeling to be part of a winning team that is dedicated to saving these lands so that future generations can enjoy them as we do.
Message from Park Manager
Soldiers Delight is one of the more unique areas in the Maryland Park Service. So it would stand to reason that it has some very unique volunteer opportunities. If you like traditional park volunteer activities, such as working in a nature center, leading hikes, or giving interpretive programs, you will find those at Soldiers Delight. If you like clearing brush, removing invasive plants, helping with controlled burns, then you can find those opportunities at Soldiers Delight also. Soldiers Delight has an ecosystem restoration plan and volunteers play a huge part in moving that plan forward. Take a look at the opportunities for SERP volunteers on this page. We operate a full service nature center and museum that has opportunities for volunteer naturalists, docents, and those interested in facility maintenance and graphic design. Our wall murals in the nature center were all painted by volunteers. Many of our interactive displays were created by volunteers. We even had volunteers making fake dynamite props for this year’s Mining Park Quest. If you love animals Soldiers Delight is the home of Scales and Tales in the Central Region of Maryland. Volunteers help with animal care and interpretive programming.
If one of our quirky opportunities is right up your alley I hope you will join our Soldiers Delight Volunteer Team! We would love to have you as part of our volunteer family!
Volunteering is even easier now at Soldiers Delight NEA - our new on-line registration system is only a click away. To search for volunteer opportunities at this state park and all of the state parks in Maryland, please "click" here to link to the Volunteer with Maryland State Parks webpage and then "click" on Opportunity Search in the Volunteer Menu on the left side of the page.
Message from the Friends of Soldiers Delight Natural Environment Area
Soldiers Delight Conservation, Inc. (the Friends of Soldiers Delight) is a non-profit group which assists the staff of Soldiers Delight with programs, serpentine restoration projects, exhibits and visitors' center assistance.We are always looking for new members to join us in supporting this vital natural resource. For more information, please contact email@example.com.
Featured Volunteer Opportunity – Visitor Center Staff
Share your love of nature and be a down-to-earth social networker by volunteering at our Soldiers Delight Visitors Center. You’ll meet and greet lots of visitors and let them in on all the sights, sounds, history and activities going on at Soldiers Delight. You need to be at least 18 years old, have the gift of gab and be able to handle gift shop sales. The Visitors Center is open Saturdays and Sundays from 11:00am to 3:00pm through the end of October. Experienced Visitors Center volunteers will make sure you get all the on-the-job training you need.
A truly unique environment located just outside of Baltimore, Soldiers Delight has a volunteer opportunity for you! To search for volunteer opportunities at this state park and all of the state parks in Maryland, please "click" here to link to the Volunteer with Maryland State Parks webpage and then "click" on Opportunity Search in the Volunteer Menu on the left side of the page.
Here are just a few of the things you can do:
- Scales and Tales Aviary & Programs
- Volunteer Naturalist
Donna Seymour, Volunteer Coordinator
Soldiers Delight NEA
c/o Patapsco Valley State Park
8020 Baltimore National Pike
Ellicott City, MD 21043
Serpentine Ecosystem Restoration Project (SERP) Volunteer Opportunities
The Maryland Natural Heritage Program, your State non-game and endangered species program, has been working with volunteers at Soldiers Delight NEA since 1995. Our volunteers assist with ecosystem restoration by removing non-native Virginia pine and other invasive plants, allowing the native grasses to re-colonize the area. We use a variety of methods, including chipping and brush pile burns, to reduce the biomass and remove the organic material from the mineral-based soil of the serpentine outcrop.
Our efforts at Soldiers attempt to mimic what would be normal environmental conditions, if people weren’t here. We remove the non-native woody species and other invasive plant species by hand and twice a year, depending on the weather, we conduct prescribed burns. A prescribed burn is a fire which is set deliberately, in an area which has been prepared so that the fire burns only what we want it to burn, and so that surrounding areas are safe. Preparation includes constructing fire breaks to keep the fire from burning beyond the designated area, and removing or organizing especially hazardous fuel, plants or other materials which burn faster or hotter than can be managed by a fire crew. A fire crew is always on hand to make sure the fire doesn’t burn anything we don’t want it to burn. Our volunteer force is vital for both woody species removal and prescribed burns.
The majority of our work occurs during the late autumn, winter, and early spring. During the summer, we do very little work there, both for the protection of the rare plant and animal species who are going about their reproduction, and for the volunteers. The work areas on the outcrop of serpentine rock have little shade; temperatures regularly exceed 100 degrees in the summer. Additionally, the ticks are voracious. The work we perform is very physical labor. Here is a list and usual timetable for our serpentine activities:
- October: prepare fire breaks. Fire breaks are buffer zones, approximately 10 feet wide which surround a burn unit; we clear these buffers, using weed whackers and rakes, of any flammable material to prevent fire spread.
- November: Autumn prescribed burn; open only to those volunteers who have completed the federal forest fire training and passed the physical test. Our burn units may be as small as a few acres to as large as 30 acres. It depends upon the landscape and how many trained wildfire fighters we have to maintain the fire break. Each prescribed burn is different. Scheduling prescribed burns is dependent upon availability of personnel and the weather so we never know until the day before an event if it will proceed. Wildfire training is overseen by the Maryland Forestry Service. http://www.dnr.state.md.us/forests/fire/wildfiretraining.asp
- December - March: cut and drag non-native pines and cedars to the chippers. We manually remove them, using sawing and girdling techniques, then increase the decomposition rate by chipping. We’ve found that using human power does the least amount of damage to the shallow serpentine soil. We will also use brush pile burning to remove woody debris. To maintain previously cleared areas, we cut non-native tree seedlings to prevent re-encroachment. Prepare fire breaks for the spring burn.
- March - April: Spring prescribed burn. The spring burn helps the native plants by knocking back non-native plants, which tend to germinate earlier and gain a competitive edge.
Interested volunteers will be put on an emailing list and will receive the Winter Restoration calendar and schedule updates. The minimum age to volunteer is 12 years old when accompanied by a parent or adult guardian. The location of work sites may change but volunteers always meet at the Visitors Center on Deer Park Road for a briefing before moving to the work site.
Training will be provided for each task. Only DNR-certified sawyers will operate saws.
Work days, usually Saturdays, begin at 8:45am and end at 2:30pm. To participate, volunteers should wear sturdy footwear and bring work gloves. Layered clothing is recommended, including a hat. Volunteers also need to bring lunch and a drink and any emergency medications as the specific circumstances dictate. Volunteer work events will not proceed if the weather is inclement on the day or if previous weather has made the work site inaccessible or dangerous.
If you are interested is helping us restore and conserve this unusual ecosystem, please contact the MD Natural Heritage Program's Volunteer Coordinator, Paula Becker at 410-260-8568 or firstname.lastname@example.org.