Jennifer Russell | Volunteer of the Month (March 2021)

Jennifer Russel

Interviewed by Haley Sutton, Land Stewardship Associate

About Jennifer

How long have you lived in the Bay Area?

67 years.

How did you learn about Save Mount Diablo?

Through friends.

When did you start volunteering with us and why did you get involved?

Summer 2017. A friend invited me to hear Ted Clement’s excellent annual presentation at the Walnut Creek Library. I’ve been visiting Mount Diablo since I was a little girl, so it was a natural step to become a volunteer.

About Jennifer’s Work

Which Save Mount Diablo programs are you involved in?

Volunteer leader and sweeper for Save Mount Diablo hikes.

What do you enjoy about the volunteer work you do?

Giving people an opportunity to learn about and experience our beautiful open space and trails.

What is the most challenging project you’ve worked on as a volunteer?

On November 8, 2018, I led a Save Mount Diablo–scheduled hike. There were very strong winds that made hiking on the west side far too challenging, so we went to the east side and hiked through Rock City instead. The mountain blocked the strong wind, which allowed us to have a great time exploring the “Trail Through Time.” As we descended the mountain, I noticed a lot of smoke in the north. Given the dry conditions and high winds, I had a bad feeling, and it turned out to be the start of the infamous Camp Fire. This particular monster of a wildfire made me think about how drought conditions make hiking risky even in November and December.

Is there a memorable experience you’ve had as a Save Mount Diablo volunteer?

My most memorable Save Mount Diablo hike was when I was the sweep on the Mitchell Canyon Tarantula Hike. I learned so much about tarantulas and enjoyed seeing the reaction of the hiking participants as we held them and watched them in their natural habitat.

How do you spend your time beyond your volunteer work with us and what did you do before you started volunteering with us?

I’ve always loved hiking and learning about the natural world. I attended four years of Mushroom Camp that taught me the wonders of fungus. I’m all about planting California native plants in my home garden and teaching others how to compost, garden organically and sustainably. I’ve been retired for three years after working for the City of Lafayette as the Parks, Trails & Recreation Director for 37 years.

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!

Make a Donation