On nice days in the Tennessee Valley, individuals and families flock to TVA public lands to enjoy nature, but many of them also check the condition of their favorite place, and perhaps pick up trash, trim up branches and lend nature a helping hand. These are the volunteers of TVA’s Adopt a Spot and Adopt a Trail programs, and there’s room for you.
With 293,000 acres of public land under TVA’s stewardship in the Tennessee Valley, it can be a challenge to monitor how every bit of itis being treated. Many of these areas are heavily used for tent camping, hiking, fishing or birding. And let’s face it: not everyone gives nature the respect it deserves. Keeping an eye on these areas is easier when we have great volunteers working with TVA. That’s why Suzanne Fisher, TVA senior program manager, never stops connecting people with the program.
Brenda Hall is one of those people. She appreciates the opportunity to combine one of her outdoor hobbies with volunteering on Nickajack Reservoir for Adopt a Trail. “I enjoy hiking and feel great about monitoring my trail and keeping it cleaned up for others to enjoy,” she says “I have a feeling of ownership for my trail and take pride in doing my part in fulfilling TVA’s mission of service.”
Fisher has been encouraged by the progress of TVA’s Adopt a Spot and Adopt a Trail Volunteer Programs in recent years. Together, they have grown from just a dozen people in three locations to 60 volunteers who have logged 400 hours at 34 sites. Participation and work hours have doubled every two years, which has inspired a rewards program based on volunteer hours. As Fisher plans for the program’s fifth anniversary in 2021, she’s determined to double down the effort and reach more volunteers. “We still have plenty of more trails and spots available and can use the help,” she says.
While individuals have different motivations for helping, Fisher finds that most of them have things in common. “They like to fish or hike or take their families out in nature, and they want the public to enjoy the areas, so they’re willing to lend an extra hand to help us care for them,” she says. But no matter the motivation, it’s a perfect activity for families and friends to do together, or for those who simply want to enjoy some solitude (and there’s no worrying about social distancing!).
TVA asks these helpers to visit their areas four times annually. Because they often spend time at a particular favorite location, many individuals tend to keep the areas that they adopt from year to year. And when children are involved, the hope is that they will absorb the lesson of caring for public lands, far into the future. Be sure to subscribe to Crew Log, the quarterly volunteer newsletter for those who share an interest in TVA’s special places.
Signing up for these programs is as easy as completing an application here.