A Celebration of Extension Volunteers

UNH Extension volunteer Kathy Schillemat of Nelson, NH created a special home for bees during the "Make a Bee Box" workshop at the Great Volunteer Getaway.

UNH Extension volunteer Kathy Schillemat of Nelson, NH created a special home for bees during the "Make a Bee Box" workshop at the Great Volunteer Getaway.

Did you know that UNH Cooperative Extension has thirteen different volunteer programs and over 4,000 volunteers? These programs and people are one of UNH Extension's greatest strengths, and this year, Extension staff wanted to find a special way to thank those volunteers who give so much to our programs and our state. 

Staff conceived of the 2017 Great Volunteer Getaway, held on June 24, 2017, as a way to thank Extension volunteers, reports Malin Clyde, State Specialist for Community Volunteer Development. "Every year, our volunteers do so much to bring UNH to their home communities. For this one day, we decided to bring UNH to our volunteers," says Clyde. So on a Saturday in late June, Extension volunteers arrived at Bear Brook State Park to a day of speakers and workshop leaders from the UNH faculty, Extension, graduate programs, and partnering organizations. Over 120 participants were treated to a day of learning and fun, with live music by Cordwood, hands-on workshops, a catered lunch, and a special thanks from both Dean Ken LaValley and Abraham Lincoln (aka Extension volunteer Jim Miller of Canterbury, NH).

Abraham Lincoln talks about land grants
A special thanks from Abraham Lincoln, who signed the legislation that created land grant universities like UNH.

"I am grateful that...Extension honored those of us who are volunteers. I was very heart-warmed by the entire event in our honor," reported one Great Volunteer Getaway participant. After a morning session where volunteers chose one of ten outdoor workshops (popular choices were "Building a Bee Box," "Birding by Sight and Sound," and "Geology of Bear Brook State Park") everyone gathered at the picnic pavillion for a barbeque lunch and recognition program, surrounded by banners showcasing all 13 Extension volunteer programs. As hoped, volunteers learned that they were part of something larger than their individual volunteer program: "It was great to see the scope of the Cooperative Extension programs. I had no idea it was so big!" reported one volunteer.

Banners from all 13 of the volunteer organizations
Volunteers from all 13 of Extension's volunteer programs attended the Great Volunteer Getaway on June 24.

The event also featured an exhibit and workshop by The Caterpillar Lab, displays by Bear-Paw Regional Greenways, and stories about New England fisheries and cod from UNH historian Jeff Bolster. UNH Extension would like to thank the following partners, friends, and organizations for their contributions to this special event: Dean of Extension Ken LaValley for his support of Extension volunteer programs, AJ Dupere and Scott Rolfe of NH Division of Forests and Lands, Steve Hale of the UNH Leizel Center, Melissa Lombard of the UNH Dept. of Earth Sciences, caterers Dining by Design, Frank Mitchell, Emeritus Extension Educator, NH State Parks for the use of Bear Brook State Park, Amy Papineau, Matt Tarr and Rachel Maccini of UNH Extension, the band Cordwood, Sam Jaffe of The Caterpillar Lab, Marjorie Layman of Keene, NH and all the amazing staff and volunteers who served on the planning committee. THANK YOU!

Children examine Catapillers with instructor
Instructors from The Caterpillar Lab in Keene, NH offered everyone a chance to get up close with nature.


Nature Journaling
Volunteer Donna Miller (right) and instructor Marjorie Layman practicing the art of nature journaling at one of the morning workshops.


Dean LaValley crafts bee box
Dean of Extension Ken LaValley making a bee box with Extension volunteers.


Jeff Bolster delievers keynote address
UNH historian Jeff Bolster shared stories about New England fisheries in his keynote address after lunch.


Mugs for the Volunteers
Volunteers left the Great Volunteer Getaway with an "I Volunteer!" mug from UNH Extension, to enjoy with coffee or tea as they volunteer in their communities!