MUNCIE –Red-tail Land Conservancy proudly announces a surge in volunteer engagement throughout the past year, marking growth in community service benefiting east central Indiana’s environment. More than 160 community members volunteered a total of 1,465 hours to support wildlife habitat restoration, outdoor recreation, and environmental education, a 26% growth from 2021.
Red-tail protects nearly 2,900 acres of wildlife habitat in east central Indiana, including forests, prairies, wetlands, and waterways. “With a small staff, volunteers are critical in helping to manage, monitor, and restore Red-tail’s nature preserves,” said Kelley V. Phillips, Red-tail’s Communications and Outreach Manager. “This remarkable amount of volunteerism showcases the incredible generosity and enthusiasm of individuals devoted to caring for places where people and wildlife thrive.”
Volunteers helped restore habitats to health by clearing invasive weeds and making space for native and state-endangered plants to grow. More than 300 trees were also planted in Muncie’s urban nature preserve, Dutro-Ernst Woods.
Amanda Ballenger, a volunteer since 2019 who has logged more than 50 hours of volunteerism, said, “I love coming back season after season to a Red-tail nature preserve where I have cleared invasive weeds and planted native trees. It makes my heart sing to notice new wildflowers and animal tracks where previously there were only dense, impenetrable walls of invasive honeysuckle shrubs. I can see the forest’s transformation back to health.”
Other engagement included conservation professionals donating their time to teach Red-tail’s adult and youth nature programs and volunteers assisting with large public events. Additionally, Red-tail Land Conservancy is led by a volunteer Board of Directors of 14 community members from Delaware, Henry, Madison, Randolph, and Wayne counties. “We are fortunate to have a board whose vision and hard work has helped Red-tail reach new heights,” said Phillips.
The University of Maryland’s Do Good Institute estimates that a single volunteer hour has a nationwide cash value of $31.80. For Red-tail, volunteering in 2023 equated to $46,587 worth of work. “Volunteer engagement reflects our community’s commitment to fostering a culture of service and collaboration benefiting nature. We are immensely grateful for the dedication demonstrated by our volunteers,” said Phillips.
Individuals and groups interested in volunteering with Red-tail Land Conservancy can find more information at www.ForTheLand.org/Volunteer.
Photo: A family plants a tree at Red-tail’s Earth Day Tree Planting this April.