Bennett Berke | Volunteer of the Month (March 2020)

Bennett Burke - March 2020 Volunteer of the Month

Interviewed by Laura Kindsvater, Stewardship & Outreach Intern

About Bennett

How long have you lived in the Bay Area?

I moved from Chicago to Berkeley (via Coral Gables, Florida) in 1970.

How did you learn about Save Mount Diablo?

I used to donate to the organization. And I met Ron Brown (former Executive Director) in a softball league, and he encouraged me to volunteer.

What did you do before you started volunteering for us?

Before retiring, I worked as a project manager at Bio-Rad laboratories in Hercules. Before that I was a software engineer. Before that was a long time ago!

How long have you been volunteering with us?

I had to look this up. I think I started on the Irish Canyon revegetation-watering crew in 2014. So about six years.

What were your reasons for getting involved with SMD?

The organization is very effective and filled with talented people.

About Bennett’s Work

Which SMD programs are you involved in?

I am a property steward with Fred Massell at Oak Hill Lane (up from Morgan Territory Road).

I am also on the watering crew led by Giselle Jurkanin that is re-introducing oak trees to Irish Canyon and the Ang property.

What does your volunteer work consist of and what do you like about it?

Watering crew—When it’s not raining (which is unfortunately more common), the team delivers water to newly planted oaks and buckeyes along the creeks in Irish Canyon. For stewardship—we walk the fence line of the SMD property (Oak Hill) and look for disturbances or anything that seems out of place (like possible trespassing). Fred and I also give an annual tour of Oak Hill to SMD members and the general public. I have met some great people by volunteering.

What is the most challenging project you’ve worked on while volunteering?

A few times I’ve helped the East Bay Trail Dogs do hillside trash and debris cleanup, and culvert clearing. That group has way too much energy for me, but I really admire them.

What is an especially memorable experience you’ve had as an SMD volunteer?

There are actually quite a few. But I remember (or mis-remember?) volunteering at the start line of the Mount Diablo Challenge. One of the participants was going to the summit on a unicycle while dribbling a basketball. Could that really have happened?

Join Our Volunteer Crew! We Depend on You!

Given limited staff, resources, and time, Save Mount Diablo depends on volunteers to take organizational effectiveness from excellent to exceptional. Save Mount Diablo seeks to connect a passionate community to our mission, cultivating a sense of ownership and proficiency in every volunteer position offered. Whether you want to help with restoration and stewardship, build and maintain trails, help with events, assist in the office, lead hikes, or advocate for us, there’s a place for you. For more information, check out Save Mount Diablo’s volunteer opportunities.

Join us to save the remaining natural lands of Mount Diablo!

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