Ruth has been a volunteer with Maine Audubon for more than five years. She helps out at Scarborough Marsh Audubon Center (SMAC) every Tuesday in the summer. In the colder months, she assists at Gilsland Farm Audubon Center by greeting visitors, answering the phones and responding to wildlife inquiries that come our way. A former physical education teacher, Ruth also volunteers at Spring Ledge Light House in South Portland (SMCC campus) and Maine Medical Center.
When asked why she volunteers here, she was quick to point out, “I’m not a big bird person – I’ve just always liked the outdoors.” Ruth has always enjoyed hiking and exploring the more remote parts of the country. “I’ve hiked most of the 4,000 footers,” she said. Her latest fascination is geocaching. For those unfamiliar with this outdoor adventure game, geocaching is a treasure hunt where you use a GPS to hide and seek containers with other participants. You can find and record your geocache finds at www.geogaching.com. Ruth noted for those who are interested in getting started, Gilsland Farm Audubon Center has three different geocaches.
“It’s a fun personal challenge,” said Ruth. “Geocaching has brought me to so many different nature preserves and sanctuaries, like Mast Landing Audubon Sanctuary in Freeport. I like being active and outside.”
Within 35 miles of Scarborough (where Ruth lives), there are 500 geocaches. She has completed just over 700 geocaches herself and recently went to a national event in the Adirondacks and won first place in her age group. When you find the geocache, there’s a log; you date it, put in your geocaching name to prove you were there and then log it online.
When she volunteers at SMAC, she signs people up for canoes, shares information with visitors about the marsh and doles out tips. “I’m basically a tour guide!” she said. “The one thing I won’t do is lift the canoes – that’s off limits for me,” she said with a smile. She likes to encourage people to check out the Eastern Trail that starts in South Portland; it crosses the road just a quarter mile down from the Marsh.
When asked about her favorite moment at Gilsland Farm, she paused and smiled. “I love seeing the children. They get so excited about playing outside; they always run up to me and tell me about their adventures.” Recounting other memorable moments outside, she noted that she had been down the Allagash five different times and couldn’t believe how many moose she saw. “And the loons!” she cried. “They are the most amazing birds; their call – you never forget it.”