Volunteer Spotlight May 2015: Dave Bern

Sometimes, our volunteers work very hard, but you rarely ever SEE them. One of those volunteers is Dave Bern! Dave is the amazing volunteer who manages a few of our visitor's favorite features-our ponds! 


Dave has been taking care of the Forget-Me-Not pond and Children's Garden ponds for at least 10 years and started while being a Board member. Today, these ponds are filled with beautiful koi fish that enchant visitors young and old! 


1. Why do you like volunteering at the Arboretum?

I enjoy working outside in the ponds and gardens, and it's great to see how much people enjoy the fish and ponds!


2. What was your favorite project last year?

I didn't have a special project that I worked on last year, but I think that the patio, waterfall, and arbors at the visitor's center was my favorite feature last year. 


3. What are you excited about for this year?

This year, I am excited that I will have more time to add additional plants to the ponds and keep the water and fish looking great. I also want to spend some time helping in the gardens. 

Thank you SO MUCH to Dave for everything he does for the Arboretum! 

Volunteer Spotlight April 2015: Sara Jansen

This month, we are honoring another long time Arboretum volunteer, Sara Jansen! Sara reminisced with us about the beginning of her volunteer work at the Arboretum. She had become a Master Gardener in 1993 and was looking for some volunteer opportunities. She and a friend volunteered to "lick stamps" for a fundraiser mailing for the Arb and never stopped volunteering! 


Sara then became a Board Member, was an activity coordinator, helped develop pathways and gardens, and has also served as the Open-Aire Market Vendor Coordinator for the Fall Harvest Festival. She now sits on the Scarecrow Committee for the Fall Harvest Festival, which she has done since 2008!


1. Why do you like volunteering at the Arboretum?  

    It has been fun over the years making new friends and working with our regular weeding friends for over 20 years.  We've all seen it go from a field of thistles and nothing there except the antenna tower to mature trees, 3 buildings, many new gardens and many new changes over the years.  It's fun to watch the kids come out and have a place to run and play and just be kids.  Seeing families on weeknights when we are out there weeding coming to have a picnic supper, engagement pictures being taken in the gardens and seeing young people excited about an upcoming wedding.  It's also been a learning experience to push myself being in charge of different committees, learning about new plants and new garden ideas that we can implement and showcase.  It's been a lot of work at times but what I've gotten out of volunteering there really has been priceless.  

2.. What was your favorite project last year?

     My favorite project was starting the edible garden area to try to showcase small space gardening.  


3. What are you excited about for this year?

    I'm just excited about getting outside into the gardens. Hope to change one of the herb gardens a little bit and looking forward to our Thursday night weeding and eating (or eating and weeding.;) )


So if you see Sara out in the gardens this season, make sure you say hi! 


Volunteer Spotlight January 2015: Tim Sprengeler

This month, we are honoring a VERY long time volunteer, Tim Sprengeler. Tim is a Master Gardener and has maintained “Tim’s Garden” near the entrance of the Arboretum for MANY years.


1.  Why do you like volunteering at the Arboretum?

Tim:  Working with plants is a lifelong passion of mine.  Volunteering at CVABG, especially in my role as caretaker of the perennial garden area near the entrance, gives me an opportunity to showcase my talents as a gardener, as well as some of my favorite plants, to other community members and visitors to the area.  I was finally able to purchase a house in 2014, but for 18 years prior to that, I lived in an apartment where my gardening options at home were extremely limited, and managing a garden area at CVABG would give me my gardening "fix."

What was your favorite project that you helped with this year?

Tim: I probably would say this every year, but my favorite thing that I did at CVABG in the past year was continuing to maintain the area known as "Tim's Garden", which includes the Musical Flowers, Butterfly Garden, Salute to UNI, Clematis Crib, Peonies Plus, and Perennials of the Year.


2.  What Arboretum projects are you excited for next year?

Tim: I am really excited to see the orchard finally take shape.  It was in the plans nearly a decade ago and was shelved at the time because CVABG was unable to find a dedicated caretaker.  I think the new partnership with Black Hawk County Extension is a great thing.  As a Master Gardener myself, I may devote a portion of my volunteer time at CVABG to that project.

We are so thankful to Tim for all of his years of dedication to the Arboretum and are definitely excited to see what is in store for “Tim’s Garden” this season!

Volunteer Spotlight December 2014: Gary Blonigan

For the first installment of our Volunteer Spotlight series, we would like to honor a very special volunteer! Gary has donated 413 hours of his time this year to the Arboretum, which equals 10 weeks of full time labor. Gary was kind enough to donate a little more time to answer some questions for us!


1.  Why do you like volunteering at the Arboretum?

Gary: Why do I like volunteering at the Arboretum? Perhaps it's the many amazing, wonderful people I get to meet and work with. Perhaps it's the opportunity to be outdoors in Iowa and enjoy nature and the beautiful settings at the Arboretum. Perhaps it's the challenge in learning and doing new, creative gardening and landscape designs. Perhaps it's a sense of accomplishment as I get to witness and enjoy the results of working in the gardens.  Ahh, yes, it is all of this, plus much more as many of our Arboretum volunteers can attest to.  

What was your favorite project that you helped with this year?

Gary: I had the privilege this year to be a part of and work on two major projects, the design and building of the new Hillside Garden  and the design and build of the peacock topiary. In the Hillside garden we were able to complete the build of a new waterfall feature, a new fiberglass pergola and a new cedar arbor which will serve as the entrance to the gardens. I believe that the Peacock topiary of this design was a first in Iowa. With the building of the topiary and director Rob's design of the tail feather  garden, this project proved to be a  favorite of many visitors. We intend to repeat the topiary at a different location next year.


2.  What Arboretum projects are you excited for next year?

Gary: Next year I plan to build the cedar privacy fence around the Hillside Garden which, along with new spring plantings, will complete the Hillside Garden project. Also, next year I plan to be a part of a committee that will develop a new  3-5 year strategic plan that will  identify and prioritize the various projects currently under consideration.

Gary certainly went above and beyond the call of duty this year at the Arboretum and we are so thankful for his service!

And of course, thanks to ALL of our amazing volunteers! We had about 100 volunteers log 2663 hours in 2014!



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