This holiday season, we’d like to share a story with you on the impact our programs have on our youth, and also our volunteers.
This past spring, MNHC instituted a new award for exceptional volunteerism, naming it for its inaugural recipient, a deeply passionate and engaged volunteer for the past three years: Sherri Lierman.
Sherri’s curiosity and passion for the natural world are unending and infectious. She has inspired dozens of kids (and their parents!) with her stories, her knowledge, and her enthusiasm.
And they have inspired her.
One of her most special moments of volunteering happened during a spring Visiting Naturalist in the Schools field trip. She had set up her group of students at their individual spots along the trail, each to study a different natural history topic, and when she went back to check on the first boy in the group, he was crying. She asked him what was wrong, and he told her, “I just moved here from Cincinnati, and I’ve never heard silence before. I’ve never been this close to nature, to a real tree, and nobody else around.”
Then he asked, “…could I just sit here for a moment?” Sherri told him yes, of course he could. And in that moment she realized anew the importance of appreciating this special place we live. “Sometimes we take it for granted,” she says. “But this young man really made me appreciate it all again. It’s those insights I get from the kids that make this experience so rare and special.”
Earlier this year Sherri was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer, and she is choosing to make each day rich and meaningful, continuing to give of herself as much as she can. “I think [volunteering at MNHC] is one of the reasons I’m doing so well,” she says. “These kids, this place, give me something to fight for. I don’t want to have to give up working with kids. These have been the best few years of my life. It’s filled an empty spot in my heart, to be sure.”
And she’s filled a big place in our hearts, too.
Help us to continue to provide these moments for kids to appreciate the world around them.
To sit in the quiet.
To observe something in the wild.
And to inspire adults to stay involved by volunteering with us.