Gathering Together, Again
(Re)connection. Inspiration. Appreciation. And a lot of laughter. These are just a few of the words that describe the recent 2023 NFS Volunteer Gathering at Camp Namanu May 5-7.
The mature forest on the banks of the Sandy River, a watershed with a long history of NFS engagement and River Stewardship, provided the perfect backdrop for our first in-person Volunteer Gathering since 2019. Old friends reconnected, and new faces became acquainted with long-time volunteers and the NFS staff. Volunteers came from NFS’ various programs, including our original River Steward Program, which supports place-based volunteers who seek to educate, inspire, and activate their local communities in support of wild fish and healthy rivers, and our newer Fellowship Program, which works to connect skills-based and expert volunteers with NFS’ conservation work.
The weekend included opportunities for staff and volunteers to share about their past and present work on behalf of native fish and their homewaters. These sessions are a core component of NFS Volunteer Gatherings as they provide a chance for volunteers to learn from one another, connect on potential collaborations, and inspire each other. Local River Stewards also provided a tour of the Sandy River watershed, including a stop to observe US Forest Service personnel operate a screw trap to collect data on juvenile fish in the basin. Another stop included the site of a large-scale restoration project being undertaken on National Forest land to improve channel and habitat complexity in the river. As a closing activity, one of our new NFS Fellows led participants through an exercise that dove into the complexity of stakeholder interests in hatchery issues. Of course, the weekend included plenty of time to catch up around the campfire, eat meals together, and have a bit of fun including an evening of wild fish trivia.
We want to thank all the volunteers and participants who joined us for the weekend. Opportunities to connect in person have been few and far between these past couple of years. This Volunteer Gathering was a reminder of the incredible work that our volunteers are undertaking across the Pacific Northwest. These amazing volunteers continue to inspire the NFS staff, and we hope, one another.
We look forward to resuming regular in-person Gatherings in the future; we know that all of our work on behalf of wild fish and rivers is made more effective when we can connect, educate, inspire, and activate one another.
Interested in volunteering with Native Fish Society? Check out our volunteer programs and reach out to explore where you might join our efforts to restore abundant wild fish, free-flowing rivers, and thriving local communities.