New Year’s resolution: Become a volunteer

December 10, 2012

Is volunteering for you?

Do you like being outdoors in a beautiful natural setting or would you like to spend some time in a garden?

Sequoia Riverlands Trust would love to have you as a volunteer at Kaweah Oaks Preserve or Dry Creek Preserve!

If you’re thinking about doing some volunteering in the New Year, here are some tips for finding that perfect volunteer spot.

1. Identify the causes you’re passionate about.


(Kids at Kaweah Oaks Preserve)

Do you feel strongly about a particular problem or issue? Just to think, “Oh, well, volunteering would be a nice thing to do,” isn’t really enough. You might start, but will you stick with it? If you feel strongly about something, such as nature, open space, animals, homelessness or helping children, then that is a very good sign and the start of a great volunteer experience.

2. Determine how much time you have.

(Nature guides showcasing preserve on walk)
Do you want something that is short and infrequent? Or could you donate a certain amount of time each week or month? This is something you’ll want to share with the nonprofits you talk with. There are volunteer opportunities that can fit any time commitment, from being a Girl Scout leader for a school year to registering attendees at a charity event for a few hours.
Nonprofits have become quite adept at tailoring volunteer opportunities to fit our modern lifestyles. For instance, Sparked, a website that helps people engage in “microvolunteering,” matches volunteers who just want to devote snatches of time to their causes with nonprofits that have suitable projects.You may even be able to use work time to volunteer. Many companies have employee volunteer programs, days of service during which teams of employees help a cause, or even loan out “skilled” volunteers to help with sophisticated projects at charities. You can even find a way to use your professional skills to benefit others through a matching service like Catchafire.

3. Contact relevant organizations.

Look up the organizations in your locale that deal with the issues you care about. Contact them and ask if they have any volunteer opportunities. You can also get an idea of what volunteer opportunities are out there by visiting the many online volunteer matching services.Your local media are also great resources. Community newspapers and the websites of your favorite TV stations often have news or listings of volunteer needs right in your neighborhood. Be sure to encourage your neighbors and friends to tell you about their volunteer experiences and how they got involved.Contact one to three organizations and then visit them in person. Ideally, you’ll meet with a volunteer coordinator and get a good idea of how the nonprofit works, the kinds of volunteer opportunities that are available, and how good a fit it is for your goals. It’s a good idea to volunteer for a small project before getting extensively involved. If it doesn’t work out, you can move on. Finding your right volunteer match can make the difference between being a volunteer dropout or a happy, dedicated one.

4. Look for a volunteer opportunity that will be fulfilling.

(Getty Images”)

Volunteer work should not be entirely selfless. It is important that you enjoy what you are doing so that you will continue doing it. Think about what you like to do. Are you a “take charge” kind of person? If so, you won’t be happy knocking on doors or stuffing envelopes. Look for leadership opportunities at nonprofits, such as serving on a board of directors, helping with fundraising, or organizing an event.

On the other hand, you might not want something intellectually challenging. Perhaps you have enough of that in your own career and would like to so something simple but meaningful. Maybe you would enjoy cleaning up a vacant lot, planting a garden or signing people up for a charity run.

5. Match your skills to the volunteer opportunity.

Make a list of the things you are good at so that you can share them with the volunteer coordinators that you talk with. People who are sophisticated with computers, for instance, are in high demand at nonprofits. But your skills might be a facility with people, ability to do detailed work such as keeping meticulous records, hands-on ability such as carpentery or sewing, a talent with the written word, or public speaking.

6. Be prepared for a challenge.

(Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation”)

Boredom and impatience with the process are the biggest threats to a fulfilling volunteer experience. Some nonprofits will be disorganized and ill prepared for volunteers. Don’t stay with that kind of situation. If they deserve you, they will be ready to use you effectively.

If you work for a high-powered corporation, you may get impatient with the way things are done at a nonprofit. Try to refrain from telling them how to do their job.

If you work with things instead of people, you may have to rethink how you operate. Working with people and their problems takes a different and more patient mindset.

7. Expect personal growth.

(Getty Images”)

You may be challenged by having to deal with people who are less educated than yourself, from different backgrounds, and who have a different ethnic background. For sure, your stereotypes will crumble as you witness the dignity of all people no matter their circumstances.

These challenges are healthy ones and will result in your own personal growth if you persevere rather than run away at your first glimpse of life as others live it.


Meet an Exeter All-Star

April 26, 2012


Running past the competition…

on the field & in the coop

By Kelly Ryan, Communications Director, Sequoia Riverlands Trust

After capturing the title of women’s overall winner recently at the Sequoia Riverlands Trust 5K Trail Run on Kaweah Oaks Preserve, Andrea Anez didn’t have time to bask in the glory. She had chickens to show.

“I like perfecting chickens, trying for that perfect breed,” says this Exeter teenager. “They’re so cool looking, they intrigue me.”

Immediately after crossing the finish line Andrea headed to Porterville to show a Silky breed and a mixed Bantam at 4-H Field Day.

She won there as well, receiving second place with the Mixed Bantam she named Reba and best in breed with her Silkie called Snow White.

Andrea’s drive to excel in both running and raising chickens doesn’t seem unusual to this 13-year old.

This year’s SRT 5K trail run was her third win in a row. She captured her first women’s overall when she was just 11-years old.

“I’ve always loved to run. I run around our house, I run around my Grandma’s hill, down her dirt road, I just like it,” she says. “I like long distance best.”

She also runs in the Junior Olympics. She’s competed the past two years in the games in Nevada and Alabama and most recently took part in the Footlocker Invitational, where elite runners gather from all over the Western states.

Her mom, Kelly Anez says Andrea took to running early. “Since she was a kid she ran everywhere she went.”

She tagged along with her Dad to a 5K when she was 10 and a high school coach took notice. “He said, you’re a pretty good runner,” Andrea remembers. He encouraged her to keep it up.

She runs cross-country in the fall and track and field in the spring. She raises her chickens all year-long.

Andrea also runs her own small business selling eggs to neighbors and to her family. “My family goes through a lot of eggs so I have to sell to them to them or they’d eat all my eggs. But I give them a discount,” she giggles.

She also happens to be a 4.0 student.

“We like encouraging her but try not to put pressure on her,” says her mom. They have talked about college running programs in the future and what might be a good fit with the possibility of a scholarship. The family has looked into Stanford’s running program and Andrea likes that idea, but knows she’s got time to think about it.

In the meantime she enjoys her busy schedule,   “I go to school, come home, run, check the chickens, do homework, then bed.”

And once a year she gets the chance to showcase her two very different interests at the same time. “I wear a chicken hat and yellow tights in the Spooky Sprint run in Visalia every year… but only at Halloween.”

Going for the gold no matter what your age

April 5, 2012

Gold Medal Winner Barbara Spear

Land Trust’s Link to Longevity

The amazing accomplishments of the athletes below are extra special because they are connected to our Sequoia Riverlands Trust Family. Barbara Spear is the mother of Scott Spear, President of the SRT Board of Directors. David Childers is the father of Laura Childers, our Education Director.

After learning about their stories, the SRT staff was incredibly impressed and exhausted. We wanted to share with others these athletes’ thoughts on lifelong activity and the connection to happiness and longevity.

Barbara Spear

When Barbara Spear learned that her group had won a gold medal in the Tai Chi competition at the Senior Olympics, she was thrilled. But when the judges learned about her, they were in disbelief. They had never had anyone like her compete, let alone win in martial arts.

Barbara took it in stride. “No one ever thinks I’m 91 years old.”

At 91, Barbara is the oldest competitor to win in Tai Chi cane, a competition that incorporates a walking cane into the movements. But Barbara is quick to point out, “it’s a cane you fight with.”

“Tai Chi is basically Kung-Fu slowed down for older people to get exercise, it moves every muscle in the body,” says Barbara. “It really involves mind control over the body.”

Today, all ages are practicing this martial art and learning that it’s not as easy as it looks. “At first when I took the class, I was skeptical. It’s slow, so I thought what good can that do? But it’s hard to move slowly and your knees are bent at all times so your muscles are really put to work. Now when I do Tai Chi, I actually feel the energy, it sounds strange but it’s true.”

She chalks up her complete lack of aches and pains to her Tai Chi practice which she began 24 years ago. She happened to catch a television program showing a group of people in a park in China practicing the martial art. “I said, if that ever comes to Scottsdale, I’m going to take a class, and when I saw the Parks and Recreation class add it to their schedule, I took it.”

She praises the benefits of Tai Chai and encourages others to try it out. “It teaches patience, concentration, balance and how to get along with others. You have to breathe and relax and for many people the hardest thing to do is relax.”

Barbara is currently learning a different form that involves using a fan and deep lunges. “I can get down low but I’m not sure I can get up again,” she admits. But her teacher has great confidence in her and Barbara has no plans to stop. “I plan to keep moving, when you sit down, that’s it and I don’t plan on sitting down and staying there.”

She believes the secret to her happiness and longevity is that she keeps active. She practices Tai Chi for 2-hours on Monday and Tuesday and for 3-hours on Saturday. It’s a schedule that would exhaust most people but not Barbara. She has even added some additional exercise to her routine. She line dances for an hour every Friday. “It’s a chance for me to kick up my heels.”

David Childers

He’s a 57 year old geologist by day sitting behind a computer but that hasn’t stopped David Childers from hanging up his goggles.

“You don’t have to give it up,” he says referring to his love of competitive swimming. He recently earned three gold medals at the Senior Games in Houston, Texas. Childers set state records in the 100 yard backstroke, the 200 yard backstroke and the 100 yard butterfly.

He says it reminded him he hasn’t lost his competitive edge. “I realized I wasn’t all washed up.”

David learned to swim in a lake as a child. He says he always loved swimming but it was his swim coach in high school who made a lasting influence on him. “He taught me what it meant to work at something.”

When he was 51 years old David was inspired by a man training at his gym for the Senior Games who was in great physical shape. David decided to check out the competition open to those 50 and older. He went to a gathering of athletes and he saw a lot of people in the 70’s and 80’s. “I had a mindset that these were OLD people.”

That mindset crumbled when he competed against them. “There was a guy in his 70’s and I raced against him and he was really gunnin’ for me. He was actually going to beat me and he had twenty years on me. I realized then that there was an 18 year old inside of these people, when I looked into their eyes, there was a young person looking back. It gave me a whole new concept of what age is and inspired me to stick with competing.”

Now, six years later he says he relates to that experience. “I look in the mirror and it’s startling, but you still feel young.”

David trains in the pool 8 to 10 hours a week. For him, exercise is both a mental and physical workout. He says if he doesn’t work out, he feels out of sorts and his diet gets out of whack.

Besides the overall well- being he experiences, it’s the competition that keeps him fired up. “I’m competing against very competitive people and it’s inspirational to see people who have a zest for life, no matter what their age.”

David is now training for the upcoming Houston to Austin MS 150, a fundraising bike ride to raise money for those with multiple sclerosis. The ride covers 150 miles between the two cities but that doesn’t seem to faze David. He may now be the one “gunnin” for those younger guys but you can bet he’ll be enjoying the ride.

SRT salutes Barbara and David for their gold medal efforts and for inspiring others to get up, get out and get moving, no matter what form it takes.

What better way to get in motion than to join the fun at SRT’s 3rd annual 5K Trail Run/Walk at Kaweah Oaks Preserve, Saturday April 14. For information on how to register go to:



August 11, 2011

Sequoia Riverlands Trust has two volunteer days coming up this month, at Dry Creek Preserve on Tuesday, August 16th and Tuesday, August 30th from 9 am – 11 am. If you choose to volunteer you will be helping our Nursery Tech, Andrew Glazier propagate native plants, focusing on potting elderberry and starting some willows.

We propagate elderberries and willow by taking a ‘cutting’ of a mature plant, then soaking it in water to let the roots grow out before planting it in soil. We take cuttings by cutting off a piece of the mature plant’s branch. So essentially, we make clones of wild plants, grow them in the nursery, and then plant them on the preserve where we took the cutting.

Anyone can volunteer, but you need to bring a liability release form with you. If you are under 18, then you need your parent’s signature. Anyone under the age of 16 needs to be with an adult. We hope to see you at Dry Creek Preserve!

You can download a printable copy of the liability release form here.  RELEASE OF LIABILITY_DCP Work Days_Aug 2011


Seed Contest – Bring in your seeds!

May 24, 2011

Please call Andrew at 737-8637 or bring your seeds to the SRT office as we are in the collection segment of the Lupine Seed Gathering Contest. Frances and Bill Tweed are currently in the lead. Next month look for the Redbud and Poppy seed contests. Thanks again to everyone who has participated to date. These seeds will help us restore native plants where they belong.

Update on Dry Creek and Homer Ranch Preserves

April 12, 2011

With the opening day only 5 weeks away, the Dry Creek and Homer Ranch Preserves have taken on a new identity. Dressed up in wildflowers and brand new visitor amenities, these new nature preserves are eager to show off their splendor and welcome you to their trails on May 21, 2011.

It’s taken many helping hands to get this far, and there’s plenty more to go. Thank you to all who have shared your time, talent and dedication to the project. Check out the progress at Dry Creek Preserve and Homer Ranch. If you’d like to get involved, sign up for our volunteer e-newsletter by emailing


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2010 SRT Accomplishments!

December 20, 2010

Sequoia Riverlands Trust is proud to boast the following accomplishments that we made for conservation in the southern Sierra Nevada and San Joaquin Valley in 2010:


James K. Herbert Wetland Prairie Preserve - vernal pool tour

  • Completed a 5-year vernal pool restoration project at the James K. Herbert Wetland Prairie Preserve! Project funded by the Wildlife Conservation Board, Bureau of Reclamation and Natural Resource Conservation Service
  • We secured funding for 814 acres of new ag conservation (3 easements in 3 counties) and look forward to closing the deals in the early part of 2011
  • We are actively negotiating the conservation of 5,000 acres of ranchland, with grants pending on two properties. These conservation properties are part of a 43,000 conservation plan that has been developed by the Southern Sierra Partnership (The Nature Conservancy, California Audubon, Sierra Business Council, Tejon Ranch Conservancy and Sequoia Riverlands Trust
  • 342 volunteers gave more than 1,300 hours of their time to the cause of conservation (380% increase over 2009 – Great job to our dedicated volunteers!).

Students participate in a restoration project at Dry Creek Preserve

  • 868 underserved Tulare County students (grades K-6) attended curriculum-based field trips to Kaweah Oaks Preserve
  • 148 students (grades 7-12) participated in service learning projects for a total of 608 volunteer hours of habitat restoration on SRT preserves
  • 226 teachers of local at-risk youth were trained in curriculum-based environmental education (with a potential to reach more than 6,500 students!)
  • 125 nature-themed lesson plans posted to SRT website
  • 13 nature events took 476 people on guided hikes of SRT conservation land
  • 61% increase in new SRT membership (thank you to our new donors!!)
  • Brought 3 new events (5K Earth Day Trail Run at KOP, landscape photography contest, Kaweah Land & Arts Festival) to the community to collectively engage people in the importance of SRT’s mission to conserve the beauty and productivity of the southern Sierra Nevada and San Joaquin Valley


Runners participate in the first 5K Earth Day Trail Run/Walk at Kaweah Oaks Preserve