By Hunter Mangrum, Semester on the Borders '08
There is something awakened inside of every NOLSie once they graduate their first course: something that demands connection with nature; something that seeks to ensure its conservation and preservation far beyond any foreseeable future. I was no exception to this rule. In fact, my NOLS experience was the defining moment in my life that led me to a career in environmentalism and sustainability education. While my Semester on the Borders was incredible, my interactions with NOLS and other alumni since had been infrequent. For this reason, I was extremely excited that NOLS reached out to me about collaborating on an Alumni event in Austin.
Throughout several brainstorming sessions we landed on the idea of a hands-on, interactive volunteer event. We wanted to connect NOLS grads to an organization in our community that shares values with NOLS. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center was the perfect fit.
When the day finally came, I was so excited to get together with my fellow alumni and play in the dirt for a great cause that I accidentally ended up arriving 45 minutes early. Once everyone else arrived (on time), we jumped right into spreading mulch in native plant beds that are part of the brand new Family Garden area at the center. It was fantastic to not only give back to an institution that is founded on conserving nature and returning it to its true native roots, but also to do so beside my fellow NOLS community. As an added bonus, we were fortunate enough to have the opportunity to help curate an area specifically designed to connect families with nature and all of the lessons she provides.
During our morning together we shared many an adventure story, countless laughs, and plenty of sweat. When it was all said and done, our small but mighty work crew had accomplished far more than the center had anticipated. After a full tour of the Wildflower Center, a cookie or two, and a few more stories, we parted ways. I have a feeling I wasn’t the only one smiling on my commute home while pondering what adventures were next for this Austin, Texas NOLS crew.
If you’re interested in organizing a volunteer event to connect with NOLSies and your community, contact us at email@example.com