WELLS — Eileen Willard was looking for volunteer opportunities when she retired several years ago. She arrived at Wells Reserve at Laudholm, sat down on the porch for a cup of coffee with a staff member, and promptly fell in love with the 2,250 acres of upland fields and forests, estuaries and beaches.

“It’s really like a second home. I really love it,” Willard said talking about her time spent volunteering at the reserve. “I didn’t know what to expect after I retired. I had no idea it was going to be this much fun.”

An army of over 400 volunteers are needed to make Wells Reserve at Laudholm Farm hum with educational programs, workshops and events year-round for over 30,000 annual visitors, according to Volunteer Coordinator Lynne Vachon.

On March 14, Wells Reserve will host a Volunteer Fair to bring in more volunteers. A panel of current volunteers will be on hand to share their experiences and answer questions. People can learn about opportunities, trainings and the special benefits of being a volunteer.

Vachon said they need docents, trail rangers, visitor center staff, water quality monitors, beach profiling monitors and other citizen science monitoring volunteers, to name just a few.

“We need more volunteers. Without volunteers - they run this place, we wouldn’t have 60 kids out on the trails learning about estuaries,” Environmental Educator Linda Grenfell said.

Grenfell said the opportunities are as varied as the volunteers, and staff can tailor opportunities to someone’s interests.

Jeannie Dunn is an enthusiastic volunteer who currently works as a docent, taking groups of school children out on the hiking trails teaching them about the salt marsh, estuaries, the watershed and much more.

She has a dental background and knew nothing about estuaries and watersheds before she began volunteering.

“The training we get here is phenomenal. We are so well supported. It’s so impressive how the staff here motivates the volunteers and fosters the camaraderie for us to all want to come back and do more and more.”

“We have volunteers who come every day and some who come once a year,” Grenfell said. “Everyone is needed and wanted and respected. Whatever they have to offer we are more than grateful.”

John Lillibridge and Linda Stathoplos serve as citizen science monitors going out once a month as a team to measure the sand shifts on the beaches at the reserve. The low-tech measuring device is user friendly and they appreciate the opportunity to monitor the valuable natural resources Wells Reserve.

Stathoplos said the staff is very good at providing useful and substantive work for everyone.

“I’ve volunteered some places, and they don’t know what to do with people. That’s frustrating. That’s not the case here at all,” she said.

“We want to make it fun for everyone. We have a great time,” Vachon said.

Volunteer Fair March 14

The Volunteer Fair is open to everyone interested in learning more about volunteer opportunities. It will be held from 10 to 11:30 a.m. on Thursday, March 14 in the Mather Auditorium at the Wells Reserve at Laudholm.

For more information visit www.wellsreserve.org or contact Lynne Vachon at lynne@wellsnerr.org or 207-646-1555 ext. 118.