Kurt Neuburger, 100 series senior designer/technologist at Andersen Corporation, has been volunteering with Conservation Corps Minnesota for four years. Below Kurt explains why he keeps coming back year after year.
Why you decided to show up to the first volunteer opportunity?
I have been active in the outdoors since childhood. Boy Scouts introduced me to camping, hiking, and events like these. I saw an announcement on my company website for the volunteer event at Afton State Park a few years back. I spend a lot of time at Afton and had already planned on camping there that weekend, so it was a perfect fit! I was also very new to Andersen Windows, and since it was an Andersen sponsored event, I figured I would be meeting some new coworkers as well.
What was your experience like?
The morning of the event I hiked to the parking lot pretty early. I expected a large group and I wanted to beat the rush so I could meet the organizers and get a little background information about Conservation Corps. I had heard of it before, but didn’t really know anything about it. My plan worked great!
The group dynamic then was pretty neat. Most other years there have been enough volunteers that the corps members got to spread out and ended up not really talking all that much. That first year they remained in their group and instead I was welcomed in to their regular daily life as a corps member. It was great to hear everyone’s stories about where they were from and how the summer days are spent clearing trail and building boardwalks. I remember one of the girls in the group was from inner-city Minneapolis and had never really been to a park of any kind before her summer session started. How amazing that she could learn so much about nature throughout her eight weeks while also learning how to work in a group cleaning up parks!
I had a great time talking with the leaders and kids. It reminded me exactly of working at Scout Camp. Before long the leaders said lunch was on the way and we had to start gathering tools and such. I enjoyed the company so much that it felt like the time just flew by without me knowing. Sitting at lunch with the crew, I knew I would be back and I knew next time I would have to bring the whole family!
What made you decide to come back the second year and years following to volunteer?
The kindness and enthusiasm of the youth, leaders and organizers was fantastic. Actually, it was infectious. After that first event, I wanted to stay with the crew for the rest of their session. Sadly I had to return to the regular hum drum world. The ability to give a little back to nature combined with spending time with some cool kids that have unique perspectives on life makes these volunteer events extremely rewarding.
Any words of advice to others considering volunteering with Conservation Corps Minnesota & Iowa?
Attend these events! The work involved with pulling weeds, picking up garbage, or clearing trail is very easy. It is even easier because of the good company. What better way to spend a beautiful morning than in the outdoors helping to make our state better while also spending time with some great kids? Oh, and don’t forget to sign up for the Conservation Corps Minnesota & Iowa newsletter so that you get updates on the Corps’ activities and upcoming events. If you are still in school, strongly consider as a summer with the Corps, it will be one you will never forget.