When your work is restoring wetlands, a desktop computer and a trusty stack of post-its just won’t do. Our Restoration staffers install plants. They pull weeds. They teach thousands of students about the salt marsh harvest mouse and its favorite snack: pickleweed.
What’s required for every one of these tasks? Tools. And….
“Everything that we need is in the truck.”
Donna Ball, our Habitat Restoration Director, really enjoys talking about her team’s “roving office.”
Plastic bins? “We have one for gloves, one for picks, one for trowels.”
An Igloo cooler? “Our volunteers work really hard. There’s a chance to get dehydrated, so we want to make sure they take time to have a break and drink water.”
The auger that changed the game? “We used to dig all our plant holes by hand, but the [auger] makes it easier for volunteers to install the plants with less work. So, they actually enjoy it more!”
Donna admits she has a soft spot not for the tools themselves, but the experiences they make possible for our volunteers. “I think the interaction is more with a plant – when they gently fill in ground with soil. People really do ask: ‘are my plants going to live?’ Will they be here when I come back and visit?’”
Rachelle Cardona, our Restoration Education Program Manager, believes a “roving office” inspires a spirit of innovation, the kind of resourcefulness that might be stifled in a traditional work space.
An Igloo cooler showcases healthy habits: “We always offer water and sunscreen. But we use this moment to talk about self-care and instruct kids to be mindful of their wellness in the outdoors.”
Macleod with a wetlands twist: “It’s a broad-edged rake that fire crews carry. But our teams use Macleods to scrape weed seedlings off the shoreline.”
Yet, it was actually a missing tool that inspired her most rewarding memory of all in the wetlands. (Rachelle took a moment to illustrate her handiwork, and then she shared this story – and post-it – with me!).
“We had already installed hundreds of plants that day, but the hose wasn’t in the trailer when it came time to water them. So, I took folded-up trash bags and made handles out of duct tape – basically created a chute. Then, I asked volunteers to line up with buckets so we could get water to the plants. It was a proud MacGyver moment in my life!’”