BLM Outdoor Recreation Planner Chris Brown, right, hands out awards to EcoServants volunteers during a ceremony held Wednesday. (Mark Wilson Photo)
The Bureau of Land Management’s Roswell Field Office recognized several of its volunteers Wednesday for their service in 2012. The awards ceremony at RFO honored those who helped to make New Mexico first in the nation for the average number of volunteer hours given per individual to BLM this past year.
“Those volunteers who are out there, they’re building our trails, they’re serving outdoor posts, they’re serving as major counterparts,” Chris Brown, BLM recreation planner, said. “Whereas, in other places, these might be days where folks come out and volunteer for 8 hours. But the folks who are in this room today, their volunteer service is akin to a career. And we couldn’t do what we do without them.”
In 2012, BLM’s Roswell Field Office received 18,680 volunteer hours from 173 individuals, helping the state to rank fourth in the nation for the number of volunteer hours contributed to BLM. The office also received 12,280 hours from 65 hosted or donated workers.
“There’s no way we could ever recognize all of our volunteers in one place at one time,” Brown said. “Because volunteers tend to have lots of energy and they put it in many places.
“Without them, our sites would not be as clean. Without them, our sites would not be as organized. Without them, we would not be aware of trouble in our sites, whether that’s vandalism or weather-related.
“They help a person feel more comfortable, more safe, when they go out as a host and they want to park their vehicle, and want to be able to travel out and use the trails for a day or an evening and know that there’s somebody who’s going to be there — an extra set of eyes.
“They help us understand what the public wants. There’s nothing like being in the field, seeing something you wish was a little different and pointing to a volunteer and saying, ‘You know, why is it like this? How can we change it?’ And then that information comes back to me and we really do use it.”
One of the volunteers recognized Wednesday was Gary Newman, who has put in a decade of service with the U.S. Department of the Interior. Brown said that over the years Newman has helped with many BLM projects and tasks like fee collection, site cleanup and communications with visitors. Newman also helped to bring in more volunteers, including his brother Gene, who was also recognized Wednesday for 7 years of volunteer service.
Newman said what he enjoys most about volunteering is simply “being out there and helping” with BLM projects. He added that he thinks volunteering with BLM is a great experience in education and hopes more young people will help out in the future.
“I think it’s good experience. They can learn a lot,” Newman said. “(It will) give them an idea of what they want to do. Especially young people, when they’re trying to figure out what they’re going to do with their lives. I think it’s good for them to come out here and learn from the experts.”
For information about volunteering, contact Brown at 627-0276.