Volunteer Highlight: Gretchen Schmelzer

“I enjoy getting children and families connected with nature.”

Lives in: Sturgeon Bay 

Former profession: Special-education teacher

Number of years in Door County: 43

Started volunteering: As soon as I moved here 

Area of interest: Getting kids and families out into nature

Volunteer accomplishments: I started the Crossroads Trail Run, founded the Door County Beekeepers Club, led hikes at the Land Trust and taught children’s classes at The Ridges Sanctuary.

Why she began volunteering, and why she continues: I enjoy getting children and families connected with nature. My favorite part is getting people’s hands dirty, getting them in the water and helping them experience nature, whether by kayaking or hiking or looking at the stars.

What she’s gained from volunteering: Lifelong bonds with like-minded people. With every group I’ve worked with, there are so many wonderful people who make it happen. 

Favorite volunteering moment: Watching people enjoy nature, whether it’s a child strapping on skis for the first time at Crossroads’ Ski for Free program or a hiker gradually tuning in to the environment on a guided hike.

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