Meet the Protectors of the Parklands
As city kids, it is easy for us to go about our day-to-day lives without seeing anything but large, smoky buildings. Therefore, we don’t necessarily recognize the efforts of wildlife preservers in the city. While their work often goes unnoticed, these people strive to keep the community in good shape. With Earth Day just around the corner, here is a reminder to have gratitude towards the people who work with the environment.
One non-profit organization dedicated to the environment in Boston is the Charles River Conservancy. Their mission, according to their website, is to progress the “renewal, and enhancement of the urban parklands along the Charles River, for the enjoyment of all.” Thousands of volunteers come together each year to maintain the Charles River parklands.
Curious about what taking part in the Conservancy would entail, I reached out to Sasha Vallieres. Vallieres currently works at the Charles River Conservancy as the Volunteer Program Manager and has over ten years of experience in the non-profit sector.
How would you describe your occupation?
I am the volunteer program manager, so I'm taking groups out into the Charles River parklands to do various horticulture tasks in gardens around the parklands.
What is an important aspect of your job that you think a lot of people don’t know about?
One part of my job that people don’t see is that I work a lot with invasive plant species. Invasive plants are plants that are in this area that are not native. Invasive plants are particularly detrimental because they have this ability to really outgrow other types of vegetation, so they basically take over and create monoculture. Biodiversity is essential to a healthy ecosystem, so you need lots of different types of plants that can support all different types of lifeforms instead of just one type of plant.
What is the biggest challenge of your job?
I work outside, even in winter. There's work to be done all year round in horticulture!
Conservationists lend a huge helping hand in preserving the greener areas of the city. Many people do not realize the importance of the individuals who resurrect our green spaces. The Charles River Conservancy does admirable work with regards to preserving the Charles River, such as strengthening wildlife, creating picnic areas and playgrounds, broadening the open space, and organizing events to encourage people to go outside. They host community swims in the Charles River, and they are also advocating for a cycling underpass at the Anderson Memorial Bridge.
A great way to help this organization is to volunteer—it is very easy to sign up for a volunteer date. The Charles River Conservancy website has an easily accessible sign up schedule on their website, with projects that typically take place on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. Don’t have time? Feel free to donate monthly; all it takes is a click. This Earth Day, do something that counts!