Remic Ensweiler likes to invite friends to work. As the COD prairie manager, he has a lot of ground to cover, but his task is made more enjoyable through the many volunteers who help out. From off-campus groups to COD Cares Action Heroes to biology students looking for field experience, Remic welcomes all!
"I like to reach out and invite people to experience the natural areas in different ways," said Remic. With a background in private contracting, he did not have much experience with volunteers on the job. However, after making some connections with local agencies at the Service Learning Fair and partnering with COD Cares, Remic created a volunteer program that is mutually beneficial for all.
"We recently hosted a group of clients from Ray Graham Association and participated in the Manual Labor of Love Serve-a-thon with COD Cares," he said. Volunteers helped collect seeds, clear invasive plants and cut back saplings.
Since June, Remic has welcomed approximately 260 individuals performing over 600 hours
Activities have included small brush cutting by hand and stacking; prescribed burn preparation; hand pulling of weeds; seed collection and processing; and planting seedling plugs. He also created special opportunities for students during the school day.
"I started Workday Wednesdays in the fall as a way to involve biology classes in hands-on activities," explained Remic, who said he was also looking for a way to make the prairies as viable as possible. What happened next was special.
Students who signed up for a workday received extra credit, he said, but they actually received more than that. They left with a better appreciation for field work and their studies. In fact, a lot of students just kept coming back.
Workday Wednesdays are held between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Students identify plants and help with prairie restoration. Work will continue through the winter months as well, with clearing small trees and processing and storing seeds. The reception to Workday Wednesdays was so positive that Remic opened the experience to other students. While about 80% of student volunteers are studying science, others come for the volunteer experience and to enjoy nature.
"It's very Zen to work in the prairie or harvest and clean seed pods," he said. "Some students have taken photos or read poetry. All ideas are welcome."
To join Remic and other COD Cares volunteers help restore the natural areas on campus, please contact him at email@example.com.