The Welcome Desk is a great opportunity to help people learn about the value of the refuge to them as visitors, and to the overall quality of life in our region. Our Welcome Desk is moving around these days to find locations that will reach more people and more diverse audiences. Here are some recent outings:
Seahorse Key Open House
Seahorse Key Open House was held March 15 on a cold but clear day. Tour boats delivered interested visitors to a truly unique island. People hiked from the beach to the light house, some crossed over to the the far side of the island and down to the beach. Friends staffed a table and answered many questions about the Refuges and the Friends volunteer organization.
Cedar Key Chamber of Commerce Welcome Center
Friends members continue to periodically staff a Refuge Welcome Desk on the porch of the Cedar Key Chamber's Visitor Center. This is a prime location to reach visitors new to the area and even some locals that don't know about the Lower Suwannee Refuge down the road, or the Cedar Keys Refuge out in the Gulf. While weekends tend to be the best time to reach the most people, we've had some competition with Chamber porch activities - musicians are also a popular attraction that the Chamber supports on weekends. So we started considering other locations.
River Trail Parking Lot
Friends members set up here on March 12 and greeted as many as 20 visitors in just a couple of hours. As one member of the team, Bill Dummit stated, "A fair number already knew quite a bit about the Refuge, but one couple was not even aware that Shell Mound and Cedar Key were right down the road. One visitor was the head of the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation (which includes state parks)," Dummit added. "She was with her brother and was impressed with the Refuge. She and her brother now own the last two blue Cedar Keys NWR hats - time to reorder," Dummit said.
Friends volunteers set up by the ramp and reported that they talked with as many as 40 visitors! This was on a Monday and we weren't sure how many people would be out and about. Discovered that this is another excellent venue for reaching and educating people.
Suwannee Art Festival
Team Debbie reports that this was the best year so far for festival and visitors to the Friends booth. Sales of tee shirts was great, we got some nice donations and a new member signed up. Thanks to our great volunteers who staffed the booth and reported that they were almost constantly talking with folks.
We can only imagine how many more people we could reach if our wish of purchasing a mobile trailer to move around on any given day to where the action. If you're interested click here to view the Friends Wish List.
Concept for mobile outreach trailer - We Want One!