Three Rivers Volunteer Gene Lau Reaches 10,000-Hour Milestone
More than 27,000 acres of parks and trails make up the Three Rivers Park District system. When you have an area that large, it requires a few good volunteers. No one has been more generous with their time than Gene Lau of Maple Grove.
“You know, it’s nice to get out of the house and do something, get active, and you’ve gotta have something to do,” Lau said. “Otherwise you’re just going to waste away.”
Lau spent a recent afternoon checking on birdhouses near Eagle Lake. It’s just one of many projects he’s done for the park district since he started volunteering in 1988.
“That’s a short list of volunteers that just, I have a random project, who would be good on short notice, reliable, I can get along with, can just go out there and get it done,” said Angela Grill, a wildlife biologist with Three Rivers. “And that’s Gene.”
The praise for Lau’s efforts is well-deserved, especially considering that this month, Lau reached the unprecedented milestone of 10,000 volunteer hours.
“That wasn’t my goal, to accumulate hours. But it just, I was doing something I liked and my wife was happy with me being gone,” joked Lau.
All joking aside, Lau says that his love of nature, and his eagerness to share his knowledge with others, have made the entire experience worthwhile.
“Hopefully I’ve been able to reach people and teach them something,” Lau said. “That’s what I want to take out of this.”
Meanwhile, Three Rivers wants to reward Lau with a little more than personal satisfaction.
“We want to go above and beyond and we’ve offered him a few little options of things he could do in the park district,” Grill said. “And one of those is to go up with one of our biologists to help with a deer count survey in the winter, so that is done by a helicopter.”
It’s a fitting tribute for this 78-year-old volunteer who soars above the rest and has no plans of stopping anytime soon.
“As long as they’ll have me, I’ll keep doing it,” he said.