Brooklyn Center Volunteer Recognized as ‘Tireless,’ Advocates Finding Peace in Outdoors
Cheryl Batson started volunteering for Three Rivers Park District as a way to stay active and connected to the outdoors.
“If anyone had told me six years ago that an urban forest setting could do so much to heal a person, I would’ve had my doubts,” said Batson.
Batson credits her time spent outdoors as an important part of helping her recover from some injuries.
“I enjoy connecting with nature and helping nature heal,” said Batson. “Along the way, I believe that nature proves the means to help me heal too.”
Batson helps the park heal in a variety of ways too. As a natural resources surveyor, Batson surveys for frogs and toads, dragonflies and sets trail cameras to capture images of wildlife. She also organizes and leads volunteer groups in removing invasive species, like buckthorn.
“I believe that to help the environment is to help myself is to help others,” said Batson.
‘A Tireless Volunteer’
She’s been volunteering for almost seven years and has logged more than 4,000 hours in various parks. Batson volunteers primarily at Elm Creek Park Reserve, but says she also volunteers at French Regional Park, Murphy-Hanrehan Park Reserve, Hyland Park Reserve, and occasionally at Crow-Hassan Park Reserve.
“Cheryl is a tireless volunteer. She put in over 1,000 volunteer hours last year and the amount of ground she covers is amazing,” said Missy Anderson, invasive species coordinator. “Whether it’s clearing buckthorn, monitoring and identifying species, working on our camera trapping program, or collecting prairie seeds, Cheryl never stops. Her passion is infectious.”
Batson will spend an entire day removing invasive species and connecting with nature. She’ll pack a lunch and then tackle a predetermined area. But she doesn’t get so immersed in her work that she doesn’t appreciate the beauty unfolding around her. Batson says she’ll enjoy the nature around her and often stop and talk to people about it too.
“I find connection and often, peace. It helps me focus on a small part of my world. A part that continues on peacefully no matter what else is going on around me, like the coronavirus, politics, or riots,” said Batson. “It helps provide the perspective to return to the rest of the world at the end of the day with calmness and serenity.”
To learn more about other Three Rivers Park District Distinguished Volunteers, click here.