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Volunteer

Volunteer Heroes: Rob Gregory Q&A

For many, the calling to conservation has been sparked by a sense of the joy and wonder about the world that was ignited in their childhood. For others, the calling is about leaving a better world for the next generation.

Whatever the motivation, our world needs stories like these more than ever.

The profiles and Q&As in this section represent The Nature Conservancy volunteers who make our work possible in Pennsylvania. We hope you’ll be inspired by these stories.

“...to go into the sounds of nature and feel the wind blow on the preserve and see pitch pines, bogs, blueberry bushes, the views [...] and you realize what people don't see from their car window or a computer.”

—Rob Gregory

nature.org:

What sparked your interest in conservation?

Rob Gregory:

As teenagers, my buddy Rob and I would go fishing in a stream by my house and we’d see all the junk lying around. We started to get involved with cleaning up and recycling.

The first big project for me was the timber project at Merli-Sarnoski County Park in 2005 in Lackawanna County. About 90 acres of the park, which included 3.5 miles of trails put in by Gene and Pete Katapski, were slated for timbering. The Hubbard Bike Club attended county meetings to address our concerns about the loss of trails and our interest in the park. After months of work, the county agreed to not timber any more of the park.

The intensity of our involvement with Merli-Sarnoski Park piqued my interest in learning trail-building. A year later, The Nature Conservancy contacted the club about trails at Moosic Mountain; I couldn’t believe that we, as mountain bikers, were being asked to help in such a project.

nature.org:

What are some of the conservation issues that worry you?

Rob Gregory:

Development is probably my biggest concern. We have overdeveloped areas such as Scranton that are past their prime. Instead of reviving the city, they’re building industrial parks outside of the city and developing both sides of the valley. Coincidentally, this is how the Moosic Mountain Preserve came about. The Nature Conservancy stepped in to protect the land from development.

nature.org:

What is your favorite Nature Conservancy site in Pennsylvania?

Rob Gregory:

Well, the Dick and Nancy Eales Preserve at Moosic Mountain is my favorite. I feel that working on the land is like highlighting your personally favorite parts of what nature has put here for us to enjoy.

I go into work and use the same machines every day. But to go into the sounds of nature and feel the wind blow on the preserve and see pitch pines, bogs, blueberry bushes, the views, hardwoods, conglomerate stone and unique areas like “Stonehenge,” and you realize what people don't see from their car window or a computer – the smell of pines, the view of the Lackawanna valley, the constant variation of flora. Take a hike or a bike ride and see what the wilderness has to offer.

nature.org:

There are so many organizations in need of volunteers, why did you choose The Nature Conservancy?

Rob Gregory:

When The Nature Conservancy contacted Hubbard Bike Club, I couldn't believe that Hubbard Bike Club was asked if we were interested in building trails for The Nature Conservancy! This was an opportunity that I never saw coming, but wanted to take on. It made an organized connection between riders and conservation. It's a connection I hope will one day be recognized [nationally] that The Nature Conservancy and mountain bikers are working to protect the same thing together.

nature.org:

Have you seen an impact on the land from your volunteer efforts?

Rob Gregory:

The only “impact” would be having more users and volunteers that understand the land and what The Nature Conservancy is protecting. More people are coming together and helping organize work days and things such as nature hikes that explain what is being protected and why.

nature.org:

What motivates you to keep volunteering for The Nature Conservancy?

Rob Gregory:

The idea of advocating for mountain bikers, meeting new people, and seeing people enjoy the work that we do is worth it. Knowing that the land is protected is important, too. If I were to leave the area and come back years later, things would feel different. But to know that I can go to the Moosic Mountain Preserve and know the trail is where it was and make that “connection” with the trail is just a cool thought. Thank you to volunteer Mark Marotta for interviewing our Pennsylvania volunteers about their service to the chapter. Mark is a freelance writer and volunteer for The Nature Conservancy residing in Montgomery County. Views shared here by volunteers may not be the views of The Nature Conservancy.


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