Nonprofit Highlight: Citizens for Conservation

Below is Barrington Area Volunteer Connection’s sixth installment of their new profile program, highlighting non-profits using BAVC for their volunteering needs. Keep reading for the profile of Citizens for Conservation.

Interview with Stephen Barten – Volunteer | Citizens for Conservation. Stephen shares his talents by volunteering for CFC through Restoration Events, Burn Crew, Bluebird Monitor, Photographer, Plant Sale an Adult Community Education

How did you become involved with Citizens for Conservation (CFC)?

I was originally exposed by my nature-loving parents who were friends with some of CFC’s original founders. I grew up with an ever-increasing curiosity about nature and wildlife. I have been actively volunteering for CFC for about four years.

Why do you volunteer?

Because I believe “that it matters what you actually do” and “in giving of yourself you get more in return”. I am always impressed at work events by the gratifying and visible difference you see after only two hours of effort. Over years, the positive impact and changes are huge, not just in plant life and water quality but in native habitat for wildlife. Each season we see more important birds, pollinators, and insects coming back. And that is critically important for us humans! Being in nature just makes me whole. It is very rewarding to give back.
I greatly enjoy getting to know people with similar likes and values, The CFC community of volunteers is very inclusive and helpful. Each person has different skill sets and happily shares what they know. So, you can learn new and different things across a wide range of nature-related topics.

What do you feel is the most important benefit your organization provides to the community?

CFC reminds people that nature is important in so many ways and that everything is connected: land, plants, wildlife, education for all ages, long-range planning, maintenance, and improvement of natural areas. It is up to us and CFC helps keep the community focused on this small earth which is our home.

What do you feel is the best thing about CFC?

The people, their knowledge, and their personal generosity (volunteering, donating, partnering on projects, sharing) Love of nature is sort of the great leveling element that bonds people together regardless of their backgrounds, status, or location.

How has CFC handled the challenges during COVID?

Through creative and adaptive planning, CFC attained new record achievements on key activities. Because the safety of CFC volunteers and participants is of paramount importance, all health and regional safety guidelines and protocols have been followed since Day One of restrictions.
People are surprised to realize everyone wears a mask even at outdoor events. During 2020 CFC even took digital temperatures of participants as recommended by guidelines. Participants consistently socially distance and the total number of volunteers and activity participants have been limited to keep groups small. CFC installed additional outdoor handwashing stations and created limits on building use.
CFC shifted to digital and virtual channels. All committee and board meetings were conducted via Zoom. CFC’s annual 4th Graders on the Prairie program created several on-site, fun videos as resources for use by more than 35 teachers to continue this important nature experience.
The Adult Community Education programs were offered in webinar broadcasts through a new partnership with the Barrington Area Library. CFC’s first-ever virtual Annual Meeting and 50th Anniversary presentation was held in March. The broadcast received enthusiastic reviews.

Can you share your favorite volunteer moment or story? 

I like the prescribed burns. I appreciate that these events are carefully planned in great detail by professionals, with specific goals. To participate you must have special training, demonstrate safety, and earn your way onto the team. It is a special experience to work with this team – each person has a specific job, communication is high, and it is gratifying working together. After a couple of hours you see a huge change, exactly as planned. When you return in two weeks everything is greening up with emerging flowers, rare birds are building nests and laying eggs, and wildlife is thankful for the healthy habitat.



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