Leland Arnsdorff is a volunteer at the WNC Nature Center. The organization works to connect people with the animals and plants of the Southern Appalachian Mountain region.
What is your role at the WNC Nature Center?
I am a docent. In my volunteer position, it is my privilege to share bio facts, information and the story behind the residents of the Nature Center with both adults and children. Being a docent is more than just teaching people; it means engaging guests in a way so that they develop their own appreciation for the residents at the Nature Center.
What have you learned about the individuals you serve?
The “individuals” that I serve are the animals who call the WNC Nature Center home. I have learned quite a bit about the animals that once lived in WNC as well as those animals that live in the area now. Some of the residents of the Nature Center are no longer living here in our area, and I have learned both why this is the case and what we can do to support the wildlife living in our area currently. The information that a docent shares with the guests at the Nature Center could make the difference in how our guests view all wildlife and their habitats.
As a volunteer, what has been the greatest reward?
The greatest reward is seeing the look on a guest’s face, child or adult, when they see the animals and make a personal connection either through something learned or through seeing the animal in person. It is these “aha” moments that are my greatest reward.
What advice would you offer those thinking about volunteering?
The Nature Center benefits from volunteers who lend support in a number of areas. Being a docent requires being in front of and interacting with guests, so make sure that you are comfortable with both. If you enjoy expanding your knowledge about and your enjoyment of native wildlife, then the Nature Center is a wonderful place to not only visit but also to volunteer.