Two Paths Diverged in a Wood, and We Mulched the One Most Traveled

Ben Dillon - YVCKC Team Leader 2014

Ben Dillon, YVC of Greater Kansas City Team Leader

Nine volunteers, four days, and four truckloads of wood chips. Add a dash of games and wildlife exploration, then sauté in the summer sun, and you have the ingredients for a successful (and sweaty) YVC summer project.

Nestled in the rolling hills north of Kansas City, the Parkville Nature Sanctuary hosts more than 30,000 annual visitors on its 3.5 miles of scenic trails. With so many visitors and only one part-time staff member at the sanctuary, it takes a small army of volunteers to keep the trails from deteriorating into a muddy mire.

Enter nine hard-working youth from Greater Kansas City. In 24 hours of cumulative service, each Youth Volunteer moved an average of 50 wheelbarrows of wood chips up a hill. That’s an estimated half-ton of wood chips per person!

YVCKC - Summer 2014 (5)_webBetween trips to the chip pile, volunteers encountered snakes, earthworms, spiders and wild turkeys. They learned the importance of milkweed to monarch butterflies and saw the devastating effects of invasive emerald ash borers. They stumped each other with category games (“Name a movie starting with the letter X!”) and shook off post-lunch lethargy with energizers like Oshka and Octopus Tag.

Most importantly, these nine Youth Volunteers saw the positive impact they can have on a community with just a little time, effort and intentionality. This impact was evident each time a passerby on the trail voiced her appreciation for the revitalized trail.

“There are a lot of things in life that you can’t control,” said Bob Fluchel, the sanctuary’s director. “But one thing you can control is your effort. Your effort this week has made a big difference.”

Thanks, Ben, for telling us about your experience at Parkville Nature Sanctuary! Do you have a great story from this summer? Contact Lacey at to share your story!