Published on March 18, 2021

Volunteers Make Our Mission Possible

Volunteer Heather Pilchard rescues a Kemp’s Ridley on Great Island
Volunteer rescuing a cold-stunned Kemp's Ridley

Over the past several months, I've had the opportunity to explore more of the Mass Audubon community and have come to realize that a major ingredient of our success over the past 125 years is our wonderful volunteers. Mass Audubon has an outstanding network of 14,000 volunteers who provide more than 100,000 hours of time each year to help us protect the nature of Massachusetts.

With nearly 40,000 acres of land that we protect and steward and a network of 62 wildlife sanctuaries open to the public, it would be literally impossible to keep up without volunteers who are willing to remove invasive species, manage trails, clear brush, remove downed trees, welcome visitors, and, in the case of Wellfleet Bay's sea turtle rescue work, scour beaches during the cold fall and winter seeking out sea turtles stranded due to cold waters.

In January, I participated in Wellfleet's sea turtle volunteer appreciation day and was overwhelmed with the scale of our work to rescue endangered sea turtles. This past year, the team saved more than 1,000 turtles, the second highest number since we began the program in the 1970s! Read about one longtime sea turtle volunteer's story in In Your Words.

I have also had the privilege of working closely with our Board of Directors and Council to shape our new Action Agenda. These volunteers have spent hours upon hours helping shape the plan, which seeks to tackle the urgent issues of our time—biodiversity, inclusive and equitable access to nature, and climate change. Without their strategic advice and analytical support, the plan would not be what it is today. Stay tuned for details.

Looking forward, spring is when we normally host our Statewide Volunteer Day, where hundreds of volunteers participate in projects across the state. While COVID may prevent that large gathering this year, I look forward to taking part next year. In the meantime, I just wanted to say thank you to every volunteer out there who has made Mass Audubon what we are today—and will help us accomplish our mission in the days, months, and years to come.

Many thanks, 

David J. O'Neill