On Friday, May 26, 2006 we arrived at our new summer home. We were greeted by Bob Peyton, Deputy Project Leader. Our RV site is near the visitor building here and about 1/4 mile from the headquarters buildings. The refuge is a beautiful place and the staff seem to be really great people.
We have a full hook-up site with 50A power. There are two RV sites here and the second one is occupied by a trailer that is housing for the leader of the Youth Conservation Corp group that will be working here for eight weeks this summer. We are on the edge of a meadow that is used by the wildlife frequently and so we expect to have some interesting visitors through the course of the summer.
At this point we have only begun to help around the refuge but we will be doing some maintenance and construction work as well as doing visitor contact on week ends as well as giving tours of the refuge to visitors This is a very special place and if you should happen to pass near us this summer, please do stop by to visit!
Just a week after our arrival, I was out helping the biology staff to capture and band woodcocks, the bird that was the reason for establishment of the refuge, back in 1937. The refuge has a total of 24,400 acres.
One activity that is important here is the capture and banding of water fowl. On July 18 we all participated in a goose roundup!
It all begins when the geese molt and loose the ability to fly. For about two weeks, most adult geese have to few wing feathers to take flight and the staff use canoes and kayaks to round up the birds, much like cowboys on horseback collect the cattle on a ranch.
Once the geese have been caught, each one must be banded and checked, the sex and age are recorded along with the band number.
Each of us who wished to do so were given the opportunity to learn how the banding, determination of sex and age and recording of that information for each bird are done. Those who wished, actually performed the whole operation. It was one more very interesting day at the refuge!
Eagles, ospreys and even rabbits are among those who raise a family at this refuge each summer. Deer are also frequent visitors to our site.
The staff at Moosehorn NWR are a great bunch. Volunteers work for Bob Peyton, the deputy there and the manager of day to day operations. The Project Leader is Bill Kolondniki. He and all of the staff members treat the volunteers very well and were a pleasure to work with.
Volunteers are asked to work four days per week, but are welcome to take an extra day or two off when desired for trips to visit the surrounding areas and up into Canada. The #1 job is to operate the visitor programs, mostly on the weekends. Pam would operate the visitor center and Kirk took visitors on tours of the refuge in the large van. On week days, Pam did some lawn care and Kirk operated a tractor. We also did several wood work jobs and some general maintenance. Try as she did, Muffie never did get the stuffed bear cub to play with her!
While we hesitated on coming due to the four day work week, we came anyway because we were assured that we could have an extra day at any time we chose to be away. We found this to have been very much the case and since we have always tended to work more than the minimum number of hours, it turned out to be a good decision in coming. This was a wonderful summer and great staff to spend it with. We were involved more in the biology related projects here than at any other place that we have stayed. Is it really work if you are doing things that you would have asked to be a part of with no benefits at all? Moosehorn NWR will always be high on our list of memories!