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Nature center prepares for clean-up event

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Posted: Friday, January 11, 2019 7:41 am

Put on your gardening gloves — this Saturday, the Riverside Nature Center is having its January Clean-Up Day, and all are invited to help out.

Becky Etzler, the executive director for the Riverside Nature Center, said that the quarterly clean-up day is where volunteers come out to manage the Riverside Nature Center’s grounds.

“What we’re going to be primarily focusing on for this particular one is getting ready for the spring, so there’s a lot of things that need to be trimmed back, like bushes, wildflowers and stuff that has already seeded,” Etzler said. “They’re just going to be readying the grounds for spring regrowth.”

She said that the property is a little bit less than 5 acres in total. The volunteers will work all over the property, including the gardens in the front parking lot area, the arboretum and the gardens around the arboretum.

“We usually form up in teams, and we always have a volunteer who is knowledgeable of the different areas, the different gardens and what plants are in there,” Etzler said.

Matthew Thurlow, the building and grounds assistant at the Riverside Nature Center, said that his main job at the event will be directing people where to go and passing out the tools that people need.

“They don’t have to have any outside knowledge of horticulture or landscaping because we’ll explain exactly what to do,” he said.

Thurlow said the work that is to be done is easy and not strenuous, but like with all yard work, there is a little bit of physical activity.

“A good backbone would be nice because there is some bending involved,” Thurlow said.

One of the activities Thurlow mentioned was taking the old plant matter to the composting area that’s on the property.

“We compose all of that stuff also, so it needs to be hauled away down to our composting area,” Thurlow said. “It’s timely, it’s involved, and the more, the merrier. The more people we’ve got, the more we get done.”

Thurlow said that his favorite part about these clean-up days is getting to meet people who come out to help.

“What they do, their interests and how they got to know Riverside Nature Center,” Thurlow said. “If they don’t know what we are or what we do, it’s fun to explain to them exactly what it’s all about and show them around a bit.”

Etzler said that meeting people is also her favorite part.

“I just think it’s fun to do these chores as a group,” she said. “There’s a lot of people talking and laughing, and you’re getting the work done, but it’s real community building.”

Thurlow said that many of the people who show up are working for volunteer hours to become a master naturalist or gardener, but others just like to garden.

“We always say if you have a favorite pair of garden gloves, go ahead and bring your own gloves,” Etzler said. “We have plenty of tools here. Dress appropriately and bring a pair of gloves.”

Those interested in volunteering can simply show up at the Riverside Nature Center on Saturday ready to work. The event starts at 8:30 a.m. and lasts until noon.

“It’s not only helping us with our chores, but it’s also an opportunity to learn,” Etzler said.

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