As a Peer Leader for Volunteer Maryland one of my roles is to hold monthly Team Meetings with the Volunteer Maryland Coordinators. These meetings are meant to serve many purposes. They are a chance for all of us to take a few hours out of our work week to do a little direct service and giving back. They also offer a chance for the VMC’s to come together, find out what has been going on at each other’s sites and to get any updates from myself about aspects of Volunteer Maryland. For this months Team Meeting Volunteer Maryland Coordinator Selwyn Ramp volunteered to have the meeting hosted at his site, Chesapeake Natives. Chesapeake Natives is a nonprofit comprised of volunteers who are enthusiastic promoters of native plants. They preserve, propagate and promote plants native to the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. For our team meeting we decided to volunteer a few hours of our morning to the organization.
When we arrived at the location we were greeted by Selwyn who led us through an orientation that included a brief history of the site. We were then broken up into three groups and were assigned to various activities. At station one, a group worked on adding nutrients such as petrol to freshly acquired soil. At station two, volunteers worked on taking the newly nutrient rich soil, placing it in planters and adding fresh seed to each planter. Lastly, at station three volunteers worked on re-potting plants that had outgrown their previous pots.
Each activity was both useful to the organization and informative for our group because each leader walked our team through not only the process itself but also the environmental and scientific components. For instance, the group that worked with the fresh seeds not only planted them into the planters but also learned about what it takes for a seed to germinate. We learned about how planting a seed at certain times of the year is necessary to their germination because they need specific weather in order to successfully germinate.
We engaged in our respective tasks for about an hour and half and then we started our debrief. Debriefs are my favorite part of any direct service activity because it affords me the opportunity to really see what others got out of an experience, share what I gained, and really understand the importance of what we’ve accomplished. During our debrief I asked each member of my team to describe how they were feeling in one word. Some of the words were as follows: giddy, accomplished, informed, productive, and happy. Selwyn, our leader and fellow Volunteer Maryland Coordinator, even took a moment to express to us his appreciation for all that we had accomplished and to explain to us the environmental impact of what we had achieved. This project was a great one for our first Team Meeting because it allowed everyone to see that Team Meetings are a great way to take a few hours and make a difference.