A Nature Photographer’s Thanksgiving, Part 2

Volunteers in a Rock Creek Conservancy work crew remove invasive plants, giving native species room to grow and sustain insect and animal life.
Volunteers in a Rock Creek Conservancy work crew remove invasive plants, giving native species room to grow and sustain insect and animal life.

Story and photo by Frank Gallagher

Along with the bounty on the table tomorrow, most of us will be grateful for things like our family, health, home and hearth.  We might also be thankful for the wonderful photographic opportunities that abound in this old world, even with all its problems (see A Nature Photographer’s Thanksgiving, Part 1).  I am embarrassed to admit that sometimes missing from my list of things to be thankful for are the volunteers that make possible so many of the experiences I enjoy.

Many of the trails I hike in search of photo opportunities are maintained by the volunteers of the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club.  Volunteers at the Rock Creek Conservancy battle trash and invasive plants in the park lands I love to shoot. Volunteers help staff Brookside Gardens, a nearby 50-acre public garden that has countless photo opportunities throughout the year.  From schools to homeless shelters to nature preserves, the world is full of volunteers, working to make it a better place. 

Membership organizations like NANPA could not succeed and thrive without the selfless contributions of volunteers.  The board of directors, the chairs and members of committees, the teachers and mentors who work with student winners of NANPA’s high school and college scholarship programs and the volunteer Showcase judges all selflessly give their time and talents to further NANPA’s mission and serve our members.

So, as you sit down to enjoy your turkey dinner, or wherever you find yourself today, give a thought to and thanks for the volunteers who make things more pleasant and fulfilling for you and who, for some unfortunate and struggling people, provide a bit of badly needed hope and kindness.

If you’re feeling the itch to volunteer and serve others, you don’t have to look far.  Countless community organizations can use a helping hand, whenever you can spare the time.  You can also volunteer with NANPA by sharing your knowledge in a webinar or blog article, serving on a committee or many other options.

And, if volunteering doesn’t fit your schedule and you’re too busy to donate your time, you can also donate money towards your favorite causes.  The NANPA Foundation has several programs that “advance awareness and appreciation of nature through photography,” by supporting “education, conservation, photographic opportunities, advocacy, and ethical practices in nature photography.”  If you have a bit of spare cash after Black Friday and Cyber Monday, why not put it to a good cause?

So, thanks to you for supporting NANPA and the causes that are important to you,  And, next time you’re out on a trail or in a park, a school, museum or public garden, and you see volunteers at work, take a minute to stop and thank them for the vital work they’re doing.