300-by-300_Allyson-Stein_phoHO_HCT48_12182013_optDescribe your volunteer activities at HCT:
My position at HCT on Tuesdays is a large portion of my duties as a member of AmeriCorps Cape Cod, a program which does service work, predominantly environmental, all across Barnstable County. In the mornings, I head out with volunteer retirees for Boundary Quest where we travel around Harwich to different conservation lands and mark property bounds to confirm where private or town-owned property ends and preserved land begins. In the afternoons I do trailhead and trail checks on several conserved parcels. During these inspections I check the kiosks; make sure the pathway is clear of large debris such as fallen trees; cut back any precarious vegetation obstructing the trail; lop invasive species; remove any dumped garbage; and keep an eye out for illegal activities such as hunting within HCT land and ATVs on the trails. I do some work with habitat restoration on preserved town land as well. Lastly, I help with stewardship reports and organizing property folders.

How long have you volunteered?
I began my service for the Trust in early October and will continue until late July 2014. I am still learning many new and exciting things. I really treasure the experience of working at HCT and will definitely have opportunities in the future to apply the knowledge I have gained here.

What do you like most about it, memorable moments?
I like walking the Harwich trails because, while making sure the areas remain preserved, I can observe a variety of plants and wildlife. Coming into this position with a focus on animal behavior, I did not know the names of many plant species, but within a few weeks I was able to easily identify certain trees and shrubs. As a birder, I enjoy listening and seeing birds flying through the forest or across fields while I walk down the nature trails. My favorite place to walk has been HCT’s Bank Street Bogs Nature Preserve where I have observed many species of birds. A project I thoroughly enjoyed was restoring open field habitat at Thompson’s Field. Seeing the difference that we made in just two days was definitely a highlight. One Tuesday morning while on HCT’s Boundary Quest I found a live box turtle, the first I have ever seen, which was truly amazing, especially since it is an endangered and elusive species.

What’s special about Harwich?
As a Cape Cod native growing up in the small village of Marstons Mills I’ve learned to value the ecosystem here with its vast variety of habitats that numerous flora and fauna species occupy. As a child I was constantly outside exploring the woods, watching birds at the beach, and learning about the ecosystem in general, with its variety of niches and organisms. I enjoy working in Harwich because, other than visiting the National Seashore, I rarely explored the lower Cape for the over two decades I’ve lived here. Harwich is a great place to explore because of its hundreds of acres of forever preserved land and miles of accessible trails.

What did you do before HCT?
In June of 2013, I graduated from College of the Atlantic, a small school nestled along the coast of Bar Harbor, Maine. My Bachelor’s degree is in Human Ecology and my focuses were animal behavior, human-wildlife interaction, and psychology. My final project, entitled “A Guide to Selected Endangered, Threatened, and Special Concern Animal Species of Cape Cod Bay, Massachusetts,” gave me the opportunity to explore and research some of the species of my home that allowed me a greater in-depth appreciation of these animals and their habitats. In the summer of 2012 I interned at the Coastal Waterbird Program out of the Mass Audubon Long Pasture Sanctuary in Barnstable and the next summer I was employed as a field monitor for the same program. My experiences throughout college, especially field studies, and my job as a waterbird monitor definitely prepared me for environmental and conservational-centered service at AmeriCorps Cape Cod and the Harwich Conservation Trust.