Summer Service: perspectives from two youth volunteers

Pictured: a photo by tessie of MadelEine, Anika, and a curious doe. Photos courtesy the Bunnell family.

We were lucky enough to get to know the Bunnell family during spring and summer 2020, as Beth and her daughters Tessie (14) and Madeleine (16) got involved as volunteers on the land. When we asked for their reflections, Tessie and Madeleine both expressed excitement about what they had seen and learned, and eager anticipation of their next visit to the land. 

“I look forward to spending more time at the Whidbey Institute and seeing how our trail looks in the different seasons,” Tessie said. 

According to Beth, an extended holiday on Whidbey was a new experience for the Bunnell family. “We live in Seattle and have a place on Whidbey,” Beth said. After the disruption of COVID and the shift to remote learning, the family reassessed and decided to extend their typical two- or three-week trip to the island. 

“I can’t remember how the Whidbey Institute came across my radar, but when I read about the opportunities to volunteer with trail maintenance, it was the perfect marriage of two goals,” Beth said. Madeleine and Tessie needed volunteer hours for their high school, and the Whidbey Institute team needed people willing to adopt a trail segment and provide care through the spring and summer.  

“We adopted Granny’s Trail which was easy for us to find on our own and navigate,” Tessie said. “It was cool to learn how to cut the bushes back in a way that kept the natural feel of the trail. The trail felt very peaceful and quiet.”

“It was cool to learn how to cut the bushes back in a way that kept the natural feel of the trail.”

In addition to learning how to maintain their section of trail independently, Tessie and Madeleine helped out during Westgarden work parties and got to know staff members Jules LeDrew and Marta Mulholland. “I learned how to pick flowers and herbs properly and utilize the entire plant,” Madeleine reported. “We learned how to use different parts of a plant for healing.” 

“I remember when we picked strawberries and raspberries during the Wednesday work party and Jules was nice enough to let us take 1/2 of them home,” said Tessie. “Using such super fresh fruit on our breakfast the next day was great.” Tessie said she appreciated learning how to tell if something was ready to be picked by the color of the flower or the fruit.

“When we got home and looked at [the photo], we saw a deer peeking out from the background!”

Madeleine enjoyed seeing different kinds of plants and animals in the gardens and on the trails. “My favorite memory is of a photo with my friend Anika that Tessie took after a work party,” she said. “When we got home and looked at it, we saw a deer peeking out from the background! That doesn’t happen in Seattle.” 

We are so grateful for all the ways Tessie and Madeleine helped out last summer and we hope to see them both back on the land soon! 

If you’re interested in adopting a trail section or joining a Westgarden work party, email Marta.

April 16, 2021

Nature Encounters
People & Partners