Volunteer Spotlight: Katie Young

Volunteer Katie YoungKatie Young has been volunteering with Little Forks Conservancy for a year. She recently left her position as receptionist at Tri-Star Trust Bank in Midland to become a behavior technician with Centria in Novi. A behavior technician works with kids or adults with autism on Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy to help them be more independent and better able to communicate.

Before she moves back down to Metro Detroit this summer, Little Forks caught up with Katie to talk about some of her volunteer experiences.

What’s your favorite memory in nature?
I have a lot. I would have to say probably growing up in Farmington Hills my best friend’s backyard was a forest. It turned into Heritage Park, which is this huge park down there. We would spend a lot of days when the weather was good – or rainy, it didn’t really matter I guess – just exploring that forest and doing things like bungee jumping down roots. Just being pretty wild out there. That’s probably my favorite memory is just being with my best friend exploring in the forest. We did that a lot, it was our favorite thing to do. It’s like simple things, but it’s your playground.

How did you hear about Little Forks?
I think I put my name on a list because [Little Forks] was at a Home & Garden Show at Northwood. I think I wrote my email down. I think that’s how I got connected.

When I got into Master Gardeners last year and realized that I had to volunteer somewhere, that’s when I thought of [Little Forks]. I called Little Forks first and talked to Andrea. She was really excited that someone was calling to volunteer, and I remember that she was really happy. Master Gardeners is what actually got me to call and start doing stuff. I’m glad I did. It felt great to help an organization that needed the help.

How would you describe volunteering with Little Forks?
I would say that it’s pretty hands-on. I felt like I got to do a variety of things. It was things that actually enhanced my knowledge of nature and gardening that I could say really did give me hands-on experience. There were some volunteer opportunities at other places where it wasn’t really teaching me much; it wasn’t as hands-on as Little Forks. If you want a hands-on experience that is educational, [Little Forks] is good for that.

Maybe it was the timing of when I started with Little Forks when you were renovating the outside and changing some things, but being able to put my own input in from the very beginning was cool. I really wasn’t expecting that. I was expecting more mindless work, and this was like, “You can help design! Plant this wherever you think is best.” It was cool to have free-range, too. I don’t think a lot of places would have that kind of opportunities.

What has been your favorite volunteer experience so far?
Probably the stream sampling. That was fun because I had never done it before. I got to meet new people and we kind of bonded right away. I didn’t know these people, I’d never met them before. But, it was a really fun time. Just to get up early, go out and stand in the river is not something you typically do on a Saturday! I really enjoyed it, because it was so different. I’m not afraid of bugs. I always liked bugs growing up, so it kind of brought me back almost to childhood a bit – just going out collecting bugs.

What do you wish people knew about volunteering with Little Forks?
How fun it is. You shouldn’t look at it as “work” because yeah, maybe it’s physically demanding, but I never felt that it was pure labor. It’s usually a fun experience. You’re going to have a fun time, and you’re going to have a bonding experience most likely. Unless you’re doing something by yourself, which I’ve done too. Sometimes that’s good to have a bonding experience with yourself. It’s therapeutic. I don’t think I ever volunteered for something and regretted it. It was always better than I expected it.

If you’d like to learn more about volunteering with Little Forks, contact Andrea Foster at afoster@littleforks.org.

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