Friends offer park support

Published 3:45 pm Thursday, December 30, 2010

Contributing Writer

GOOSE CREEK STATE PARK — Its members are ready to offer assistance throughout the year, doing everything from donating money to helping out with special events.
The Friends of Goose Creek State Park are there to lend a hand, according to Kevin Bischof, ranger and acting park superintendent.
“They’re very important. They really help us out,” Bischof said of the organization. “They volunteer a bunch of hours to help promote the park, and they represent us at different community functions, like Music in the Streets in Washington and Bath Days.”
Members have assisted with a variety of the park’s functions, too.
“They help with our Spring Fest, and they do the Goose Creek Holiday Open House, as well,” Bischof noted. “We do a program called Coffee with the Birds on a quarterly basis and that is organized by them.”
Most recently, the park hosted two sessions of a Yuletide wreath-making workshop; Lowe’s of Washington and a local Boy Scout troop offered evergreen branches from their Christmas tree sales, but all other materials — including floral pins, straw wreath forms and ribbon for bows — were provided by the group. Both sessions of the workshop filled up quickly, and the lucky participants each took home a fresh wreath to decorate their homes for the holiday season.
The organization’s quest for donations is ongoing, and those funds have proved invaluable in the past. The monies provide materials for the park’s ongoing schedule of educational programs and items such as kayaks have been purchased to help in making visitors’ treks to Goose Creek State Park extra special.
Other items funded by the group’s generosity include seine nets, fishing rods and reels, personal flotation devices, park benches and a bird-watching station.
“We use some of their donations to help us take care of the park’s corn snake, Charlie, and we use a good portion of the money to buy taxidermy mounts for the Discovery Room and other educational materials,” Bischof said. “They’ve also helped us complete the Tar Kiln Trail.”
The organization operates a small gift shop in the park’s Environmental Education and Visitors Center; merchandise includes a selection of educational books and nature guides, plush birds and animals, nature dvds, shade-grown coffee beans, sticker books and a North Carolina State Parks cookbook.
The Friends of Goose Creek State Park take an interest in beautifying the area surrounding the park, helping keep the roadways clean of debris, according to Bischof. Since the 1980s, volunteers have armed themselves with trash bags as part of the North Carolina Department of Transportation’s Adopt-A-Highway program, keeping a two-mile stretch of Camp Leach Road looking its best.
The group meets four times of year under the leadership of its current president, Cathi Brown of Bath. Other board members include Vice President Al Weller of Washington, Treasurer Patrick Kennedy of Washington, Secretary Gail Ambrose of Bath, Erne Marshall of Greenville, Charlene Mitchell of Bath and Walter Hawkins of Bath. Goose Creek rangers and support staff — Bischof, Sandra Fambrough, Becky Davenport, Vanessa Fischer, Robert Clark, Aaron Lewis and Walt Williams —join the group in its work.
Friends memberships are available on several levels, according to Bischof. Individual/family annual fees are $30 each, and senior-citizen memberships are priced at $20 each. Donors can become park patrons for $100 and up; payment may be sent to Friends of Goose Creek State Park, 2190 Camp Leach Road, Washington, N.C. 27889. Goose Creek State Park Educational Foundation is a 501(c3) nonprofit organization, so all donations are tax-deductible.
A membership includes a Goose Creek State Park calendar of each month’s programs, the group’s quarterly newsletter and notification of volunteer opportunities.