Why I volunteer: Mike Erwin on WNC Nature Center

Mike Erwin

Editor’s note: In the spirit of our spring Nonprofit Issue, we reached out to volunteers from several local nonprofit organizations, asking them to reflect on what inspired them to begin their work and the impact it has had on both the community and themselves. 

As a retired wildlife ecologist researcher with both the U.S. Geological Survey and the University of Virginia, I found a treasure and instant connection in the mountains of Western North Carolina when I moved here in late 2012 and found the WNC Nature Center.  For 10 years now,  I have been using my knowledge of birds and other wildlife as a docent, usually spending a weekend day at the Center. As an educator, I use the center’s “biofacts” and tell visitors some interesting aspects of animals’ lives, often the birds of prey.

I enjoy the shift in retirement from educating university-aged students to a wider range of ages, from toddlers to senior citizens. Seeing how excited young children are when they see wildlife is especially rewarding. Today’s children spend far too much time with electronics and little time in nature. I believe bringing my own wildlife background and education into the visitor experience at the center adds a different dimension for many visitors.


Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.