Community members were celebrated for their countless hours of work as land stewards.

There are nearly 500 acres of natural areas in Lake Oswego, and they stay beautiful thanks to the many hours of work put in by volunteers .

On Wednesday, July 20, volunteers for the Lake Oswego Parks and Recreation stewardship program met at Luscher Farm to celebrate their commitment.

Among those recognized were the parks crew members, who are responsible for the upkeep of over 460 greenspaces within the city limits. Those celebrated were Jeff Munro, Megan Big John, Eric Hershberger and Caleb Simpson. Park rangers Ben LaBounty and Taylor Rethmeier also were recognized for their work.

"We want to recognize (Ben and Taylor as) they help lead work parties, lend a helping hand wherever needed, and share educational information about stewardship with the community," said Babs Hamachek, parks stewardship coordinator.

Volunteers who are part of the friends of Lake Oswego parks groups, like Friends of Luscher Farm and Friends of East Waluga Park, also were honored for their dedication to spending free time in the city's parks. PMG PHOTO: MIA RYDER-MARKS - About 20 community members were celebrated for their volunteer work.

"Friends group volunteers are an integral part of the parks. We value their energy and dedication. We appreciate them mentoring and encouraging park volunteers in the sun, rain, snow," Hamachek said.

These volunteers included Richard Herman, Will Mahoney Watson, Nancy Gronowski, Amy Herman, Laura Tanz, Kim Valley, Sue Yesilada, Christy Clark, Mike Buck, Debbie Freepons and Phil Zald.

Volunteers like Gronowski and Amy Herman were recognized for leading dozens of volunteers through work in the Luscher Farm's gardens, while others like Valley were lauded for over 30 years of service.

"These leaders are part of a long history of key volunteers who have restored the park natural areas for decades," Hamachek said.

Girl Scout member Sienna Fancher also was recognized for her service volunteering throughout the city. Alan Doby, meanwhile, has freed dozens of trees from invasive ivy, with at least 70 hours of volunteer work clocked.

PMG PHOTO: MIA RYDER-MARKS - Some of the volunteers recognized were from Common Ground, a local organization that works with young adults with disabilities. These volunteers clean up an urban park in Lake Oswego every year.

In May, volunteers from Common Ground, an organization that works with young adults with intellectual and physical disabilities, beautified an urban park in downtown Lake Oswego for the fifth year. These volunteers also were celebrated at the July 20 event.

Adam Frazell and Kelly Muldoon have volunteered for the past few years with the park cleanup. They were awarded for removing invasive plants from the garden beds and polishing the playground structures.

PMG PHOTO: MIA RYDER-MARKS - Community members gathered under a beech tree that was planted over 100 years ago.

During the sweltering afternoon, the community members and volunteers who attended the event gathered under the shade of an ancient tree on the Luscher Farm property. The "ol' beech tree" branches dip low, and the thick trunk shows its age.

"This tree is probably about 116 years old. Whoever planted this tree had a vision of it full grown … someday sharing the farmhouse and providing a habitat for birds and small animals," Hamachek said. "I'm guessing they dreamed this tree would bring joy to many future generations with children playing underneath."

She then went on to say that the tree is a perfect example of what stewardship is all about.

"As Wendell Berry says: 'We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors …we borrow it from our children,'" she said. "Each one of you here has made an impact on a natural area, on education, on planting beautiful gardens — yes, for today … but definitely for the future."

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