Sun Shine: At Broad Meadow Brook volunteers are a natural fit

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She looked upon her visitor oddly. Most likely this was because she — being 8, enjoying pill bugs, and wearing appropriate clothing — had not anticipated running into someone in the same setting, slightly older, and — having chosen to wear a full suit — schvitzing like a penguin stuck in New Delhi.

The critical look was probably very much warranted, particularly given our shared location.

Broad Meadow Brook Conservation Center and Wildlife Sanctuary is tucked away just beyond Route 20 on Massasoit Road. Containing five miles of trails across 430 acres of land, Broad Meadow Brook is not only the sole Massachusetts Audubon site in Worcester, but the largest urban wildlife sanctuary in New England.

Broad Meadow Brook Visitor and Conservation Center

Alex L. Khan / For Worcester Sun

Broad Meadow Brook Visitor and Conservation Center

With a small staff — running above one dozen, but below 20 employees, many of those part-time — utilizing volunteers has become not only an asset, but something of a necessity at the sanctuary. Currently, Broad Meadow Brook holds two formal sessions, a weekly volunteer program from 10 a.m. to noon on Wednesdays, and one from 9 a.m. to noon on the first Saturday of every month.

It was during one of the Wednesday sessions last month that Cass, the 8-year-old, and I found ourselves meeting from afar, and why I had visited Broad Meadow Brook once before, similarly dressed, and finding that a necktie does not suit well for a lot of genuflecting in nature.

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