by Adeline Bellesheim, Lloyd Center Educator/Naturalist

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Behind every great education program are the loyal volunteers who work hard to keep things running. The Lloyd Center for the Environment has been fortunate enough to have two amazing students from New Bedford Regional Vocational Technical High School volunteering with us over the last few months. As part of their Environmental Science Program, these students rotate between an academic cycle and a shop cycle, which is spent at the Lloyd Center. This opportunity has given them hands-on experiences in the world of environmental science.

The presence of our high school volunteers has been a huge blessing to the Lloyd Center. These two individuals have been helpful in a wide variety of tasks. They have traveled all over Fall River, Dartmouth, and New Bedford to assist the Educators with our well known in-school programs, including Feathery Focus, Coastal Exploration Programs, Estuary and Whales, and many more! Our Coastal Field Studies and Monarch Tagging events in the fall would not have been the same without them.

In addition to education programs, the volunteers at the Lloyd Center have helped out with important tasks, such as animal care, tank maintenance, keeping the trails functional, and our classroom clean! Our resident turtles, amphibians, and fish are forever grateful for the work they have put into keeping their tanks comfortable and warm through these winter months. These two young students have proven to be a major asset to our staff, and we want to make sure they have the best experience at the Lloyd Center.

While trying to find new ways to engage our high school students, the education staff decided to create a research project for them to dive into. For the next few months, the volunteers will be venturing out into the salt marsh to perform a baseline study on the overall health of the ecosystem. This will include data collection of vegetation cover across a defined transect, and observations on the presence of species such as birds, arachnids, and mollusks living in the microhabitats throughout the salt marsh. This research will be used to help staff understand the condition of the marsh.

The Lloyd Center for the Environment has been lucky enough to have many amazing volunteers over the years. Without the tireless work of the past, present, and future volunteers, we would be lost. The presence of these two high school volunteers shines a light on what the Lloyd Center is about. We are looking forward to having them around for the upcoming spring season!