Audubon Has Summer “VolunTeens”

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Nilla Ecklof is one of the teenagers volunteering at Audubon Community Nature Center this summer. Pictured here (at right), she is helping young day campers with their creative nature projects.

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Audubon Community Nature Center

Audubon Community Nature Center (ACNC) has been fortunate to have a number of teenagers volunteer this summer.

ACNC Volunteer Coordinator Tina Preston reports that, “This summer teens are serving as camp counselors-in-training and assisting the staff and other volunteers performing administrative work, gardening, volunteer coordination, and animal care. They add so much to our whole program — plus they are a joy to have around!”

Each month, an Audubon Spotlight Volunteer is selected at random from all the individuals who have logged hours within the two previous months. Preston is among those who are particularly thrilled to recognize one of Audubon’s youngest regular volunteers, 13-year-old Nilla Ecklof, for the month of July.

Nilla is an eighth grader at Jefferson Middle School in Jamestown where she participates in the honor society, student council, orchestra, chorus, volleyball, and varsity golf. In her spare time she loves painting, drawing, playing music (cello, ukulele, singing), playing sports and volunteering at Audubon.

Since Nilla started volunteering in late March, she has logged more than 50 hours, initially by helping out at many events and with general office work. This summer, she has been selected to be an Audubon CIT (Counselor-in-Training) for ACNC Summer Camp. CITs assist counselors toteach nature-based lessons, supervise campers, maintain supplies, play games with campers, and help set up and clean up the classrooms and activities.

When asked about why she volunteers at Audubon, Nilla says, “My family are members. I thought it would be a good place to give back, and it gets me out of the house doing something fun.” Her favorite part about volunteering at Audubon? “It’s really fun watching the kids in summer camp experience and explore nature in a fun way. I like being a part of that as a Counselor-in-Training.”

Because she is also a wonderful volunteer recruiter and coordinates participation of other honor society members from her school, Nilla is assisting in the formation of a new group of volunteers that will be called “Audubon VolunTeens.”

Preston says, “Nilla is an inspiration for many of us here and for other kids to know what an impact youth can have on an organization like Audubon. Thank you, Nilla, for your dedication to Audubon, and for demonstrating that volunteering at ACNC isn’t just for grown-ups!”

Both teens and adults who would like to learn more about volunteering at Audubon are encouraged to contact Preston at (716) 569-2345 or TPreston@AudubonCNC.org.

Audubon Community Nature Center is located at 1600 Riverside Road, one-quarter mile east of Route 62 between Jamestown, N.Y., and Warren, Pa. You can enjoy the six miles of trails on the 600-acre nature preserve from dawn to dusk daily free of charge.

The Nature Center building includes the Blue Heron Gift Shop, live animals, exhibits, and the winning photographs from the 2020 Nature Photography Contest. Visitors are welcome Mondays through Saturdays, 10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., and Sundays, 1 – 4:30 p.m. Admission to the nature center building is “by donation” until August 1, after which regular admission fees will resume.

Face coverings are not required outdoors, but unvaccinated individuals are asked to wear face coverings when inside the Nature Center building. To learn more about Audubon and its many programs, call (716) 569-2345, visit AudubonCNC.org, or find Audubon Community Nature Center on Facebook.