Published on July 11, 2022

20 Years at the Front Desk: A Volunteer Shares her Highlights

Karen Jenen at the front desk

Front desk volunteer Karen Jenen is as enthusiastic about her work today at Wellfleet Bay as she was more than 20 years ago when she began working at the sanctuary.

“It’s a great place to volunteer,” she says. “ I meet so many interesting people from all over the world, especially during the summer.”

She recalls getting to meet and talk to visitors from Japan and Eastern Europe. “They are always so friendly,” she adds. “Like most visitors, they ask the usual questions: what is there to see; what’s a good place for lunch. “ Fortunately, she says, they don’t ask too many bird questions. “I know the birds that come to my feeder, but I’m not an expert!”

When they decided to retire, Karen and her husband Donald moved to Orleans from Connecticut in 2001. Both had been employed in the insurance industry and had come to the Cape as regular summer visitors.

Remembering the “Big Year” for Sea Turtles

Karen says one experience that especially stands out over her 21 years of volunteering at Wellfleet Bay is the record-breaking 2014 sea turtle rescue season when more than 1200 cold-stunned turtles stranded, requiring every available hand on deck at the nature center.

 “ I got to do things I’d never done before,” Karen notes. “Assigning numbers to turtles as they were brought in, serving as scribe to the people processing turtles, and getting a chance to “swim” turtles when there was no more room at the New England Aquarium.”

Karen also has fond memories of helping out with day camp, especially with the youngest campers. “ I’d follow them on the trails, get them water, read stories, and line them up for the bathrooms, “ she recalls. “All I had to do was play Nana!”


Looking for ways to get involved and meet new people? Consider joining our front desk teams at Wellfleet Bay or at Long Pasture Wildlife Sanctuary in Barnstable. Contact our regional operations manager, Lisa Kane, for more information.