Star Volunteer

Dwayne at JMU arboretum

photo credit: EJC Arboretum

Certified Master Naturalist Dwayne Martin (class of 2013/2nd class) devotes hundreds of volunteer hours a year to the Headwaters Chapter partner organization Edith J. Carrier Arboretum on the campus of James Madison University in Harrisonburg. Dwayne’s dedication to the arboretum has earned him the title of “EJC Arboretum Volunteer of the Year” 2013!

The arboretum welcomes all master naturalists to engage in a wide variety of volunteer opportunities there including as “Trail Stewards,” a position created exclusively for certified Master Naturalists and Master Gardeners.

The 125 acres of gardens and forests that comprise the arboretum are “open free to the public, dawn to dusk, 365 days a year.” The many ecosystems represented and many trails provide a convenient place to study nature.

You can find Dwayne on the arboretum grounds most Tuesdays. He offers this background on his work there:

It all started back when I was working as a computer programmer at JMU. The university had “Employee Appreciation” days when the employees took off work and went to movies or played games or tried out segways or something similar.  One of the options was “Working at the Arboretum.”  That sort of “work” sounded like more fun than any of the planned activities, so I tried it, and sure enuf, it was!  So, when I retired from my job at JMU the first thing I did was call up the Arboretum and ask if they would like a volunteer, and they did, and it was just as much fun as I remembered it!

winged burning bush

winged burning bush, Euonymus alatus | click on the image to learn more about this VA invasive

Basically, I go to the Arboretum every Tuesday morning and do whatever they ask me to. I do a LOT of weeding and removing of invasive species. Right now I am waging a war of extermination against “burning bush.”  I THINK I’m winning.

Sometimes I help set up for plant sales or other miscellaneous work. I mainly go because I love the place, and it feels good just to be there and know that I am contributing to it. And it seems to be mutual. They invented the “Volunteer of the Year” award just for me! “Trail Steward” basically means walking along a trail and digging up plants that are leaving the woods and venturing out into the trails. In reality, that is only a small portion of what I do on a typical day.

click on this map image for a better view

click on this map image for a better view and to find more maps of the arboretum

To learn more about volunteer opportunities at the Edith J. Carrier Arboretum and Botanical Gardens click here. Attending a short orientation session is required; these are offered twice monthly.

Besides his many volunteer hours as a Master Naturalist, Dwayne’s involvement with our chapter extends to being the 2013-15 co-chair of the HMN Membership Committee with his wife Pat Martin and to being our “resident entomologist.” His early training in, and enthusiasm for entomology qualified him to present this topic to the 2012/13 HMN training class in the spring of 2013.