Published on May 12, 2021

Volunteer Naturalists Eager to Return to the Trails

Wellfleet Bat volunteer trail naturalists Josie Anderson and Mary O'Neil

As summer approaches, Wellfleet Bay is looking forward to the return of familiar activities—day camp, in-person programs, and our corps of volunteer trail naturalists!

Each day from early summer to fall, volunteer naturalists are stationed along the trails to provide information and to answer questions from sanctuary visitors. In all, about 40 volunteers receive natural history and safety training each year and like so many gatherings over the past year, some training has been online.

Ready for Summer

Two veteran naturalists, Josie Anderson and Mary O'Neil, can’t wait to get back outdoors and interact with other people again.

"I love meeting people from all over the country—even from other countries—who never miss a visit to Wellfleet Bay," Mary says. She noted that many of those visitors are quite knowledgeable.

"Sometimes we learn from them!" Josie adds.

Frequently Asked Questions

Although questions to volunteer naturalists can run the gamut, Josie and Mary say visitors are especially curious about the sanctuary’s diamondback terrapins, which sometimes are found attempting to nest along a trail.

"The markers near the salt marsh projecting the growth in average high tides due to sea level rise also generate questions," they say. "It gives us a chance to engage in some of the broader issues, like climate change, that Mass Audubon is working on," Mary notes.

Josie and Mary say visitors also want to learn more about the sanctuary’s many solar panels—another opportunity to educate people about renewable, carbon-free energy.

Something else visitors usually ask about?

"The composting toilets in the restroom, of course!"