Oh What Changes We Have Seen!

Written by Guest Blogger
    Thursday, 17 April 2014
Oh What Changes We Have Seen!

Once upon a time there was a ‘double wide’ parked under a tree in a corner of Riverside Park near the high school.  It was an ‘office’ and classroom meeting space.  What was it called? “Riverside Urban Ecology Center” and it housed a staff of 1 and ½, both part time.   A board made up of highly dedicated community people had been working toward the goal of establishing such a center and called on the science staff at the high school to be among the first consultants.

Long story short, many believed in the idea, the mission, and committed their time and money to make it happen — personal gifts, rummage sales, fund raising events on a regular basis, but most of all, time. Gradually it was possible to add staff and a newsletter could be published regularly. More people became interested as they learned of the real purpose of those people in that trailer!

The growth made it apparent that a full time executive director would be needed, one who would be dedicated to the idea, had a vision for its future, could bring in fresh thinking of what it could become. Work continued while the search began, and staff remained crowded in what was becoming a deteriorating space — just ask the fellow whose desk was flooded during a rain storm when a portion of the roof gave way!

As one who found herself involved in those early days, just a neighbor who was interested, imagine the feelings of watching a youngster about 10 years old who had made the trailer site almost another home, wearing his own hard hat, sit in the seat of the huge machine as it scooped the first shovel of soil, breaking ground for a new building!

We all saw this as the site of a huge facility ready to fill our needs for years and years.

Who could imagine how we have filled the space, the numbers of classes that have come down the slide, the number and variety of events held here!  Who could imagine how we would add two more Centers?

What does a receptionist have to do with this?  Being in on this from the earliest days, but no particular experience in the science field, just a lover of the out of doors (and Riveredge was too far to travel), I could move from secretary of the board, could be at the desk as the “Director of First Impression”, ready to welcome those who came through the door of this new place, so sparkling new, so spacious!  Obviously changes have happened and it has been a joy to watch the growth, more schools served, new programs, educators and support staff added — the telephone keyboard alone would attest to that since we have almost run out of numbers!

I wonder how many young lives, and maybe older ones,  have been affected, how many would be like the ten year old on the back hoe who stayed with us even through high school, how many have come to camp, have waded in the river,  have enjoyed perhaps life changing events.  How many adults have changed their way of thinking about life styles or habits because of participation in one of the programs — bees, birds, water, gardens, food habits, or even the borrowing of recreational equipment?

Pat Mueller, age 91, has been a reception volunteer for more than 10 years and has been a friend of the Center since its inception.

It’s a great experience to be a receptionist — to be at the desk and be that first impression, to answer the phone and be as helpful as possible, to greet those who comes through the door, to give impromptu tours via the visitors’ booklet, to listen to the ones who come down the slide and enjoy their laughs, to keep the coffee pot going, and most of all, to have a whole Urban Ecology Center family to call friends.  Having been there since this great dream became a reality, that’s the truth!

Pat Mueller, age 91, has been a reception volunteer for more than 10 years and has been a friend of the Center since its inception.

Guest Blogger

Guest Blogger

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