Paul Fowler—Friends of Warner Parks

Updated: Apr 13, 2020

One-and-Done or Falling in Love—Friends of Warner Parks

As urbanization grows, so does the longing for the counterbalance that being in nature supplies. Annually, nearly 1.5 million people in the Nashville area take advantage of their convenient access to 3,200 uncrowded acres in the Warner Parks to feed their soul.

Percy Warner, Edwin Warner, and the neighboring new Birch Reserve invite people to immerse themselves in restorative "play"—alone or with friends and family—through 17 miles of hiking trails, easy access (closed to vehicle traffic) roadways for walking or biking, six miles of the Little Harpeth River, many horse trails, two golf courses, picnic pavilions, playgrounds, and much more. Additionally, staff and volunteers present educational programming year round, including wildflower walks, geology talks, natural gardening, hummingbird close-ups and banding, plus docent service at the parks' Nature Center. Combining all that with various festivals, runs, fundraisers, and other events, the parks are a treasure with something for everyone.

Behind the scenes, volunteers are working with nature and the staff to care for the parks. Paul Fowler, the volunteer coordinator on staff, offers monthly stewardship opportunities for people with various skills and interests to participate. For example, in the spring especially, the Muddy Buddies care for the trails; summer finds volunteers cleaning up the picnic areas, cooling off while clearing the Little Harpeth River, or restoring the historic rock walls. These activities continue through the fall. In winter volunteers tackle the invasive plants that would otherwise crowd out the native flora and limit the biodiversity of the parks.

These occasions are one-and-done options for people to give their time and energy for just a half-day or so, but often volunteers find that experience a gateway into giving more. They fall in love. Fortunately, Paul knows how to match volunteers who wish to commit to a regular schedule or longer period with other soul-feeding ways to give back to nature and specifically to the parks they love.

Paul points out that other natural areas—both in metro Nashville and in Tennessee's state park system, and also across the country—need volunteers to preserve and protect as well as to enjoy them. Giving back to nature, whether through a one-and-done or regular commitment not only feeds the volunteers' soul but everyone else's for years to come.

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