Opportunities to get involved and make a difference with Friends of the Fells

A Message from Your Executive Director:
Opportunities to get involved and make a difference with Friends of the Fells

Greetings, and Happy New Year!

In the first four months acting as your Executive Director, I’ve been impressed by the vibrant community of dedicated volunteers who generously give their time to care for our Fells forest. Why not consider joining other like-minded people who share your love for the forest and volunteer with the Friends in 2020?

Opportunities abound for involvement. If you’re an avid hiker in the Fells, you might consider becoming a Trail Adopter to help us maintain over 100 miles of trails in the Fells. If you enjoy young children and are enthusiastic sharing nature with them, you might consider learning more about our Babes in the Woods program (which brings young families on hikes just about every Tuesday morning of the year), and joining the volunteer team leading these hikes.

If you have a passion for improving habitat and saving trees from invasive plants (think Oriental Bittersweet), consider visiting our Stewardship Committee and learning more about our plans for on-the-ground efforts this coming spring. Or, if you like digging into local politics or tracking environmental legislation at the statehouse, you might be a good fit for our new Advocacy Committee, tasked with cultivating relationships with decision makers, advancing the Friends’ policy positions, and sniffing out and combating external threats to the Fells (e.g. our recent work to protect the 90mm site).

We’re also developing a new Conservation & Science Committee. Initial focus areas will include ecology, citizen-science research, biodiversity, and the effects of climate change on the Fells.

Finally, we’re also on the lookout for volunteers to help fulfill some unique “skill” volunteer positions in many additional areas, including finance, fundraising, social media, and more.

A list of upcoming committee meetings is provided below. Please consider attending an upcoming meeting to learn more about how volunteering for the Friends can be put into your action plan for 2020.

 January Board Meeting:  Tuesday, January 14th, 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM

(**Board meetings are schedule for the second Tuesday of every month)

Stewardship Committee:  Wednesday, January 15, 7:00 PM – 8:30 PM

Advocacy Committee:  Wednesday, January 22nd, 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Conservation & Science Committee:  Thursday, February 6th, 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM

(This meeting is a conference call.  Please contact us to find out how to participate.)

Development Committee:  TBD; last week of January

NOTE: All Friends of the Fells committee and board meetings are held at the Beebe Estate unless otherwise noted, located at 235 West Foster Street in Melrose.

For more information on volunteering, contact us at friends@fells.org!

Stay warm out there,

Chris Redfern

Growing up on Cape Cod, I spent at least a third of my childhood playing in the woods. My dad is a land surveyor and my mom and avid walker and horseback rider, so the trails we’d hike on weekends varied in length and location, and each trek came with off-the-cuff information about our local history, location of town boundaries, emergence of spring flowers, and insider information about the best places to look for pheasant, quail, deer, and horse tracks.

Accompanied by dedicated volunteer co-leaders Laurie and Dennis, I am honored to lead the weekly Babes in the Woods hikes, a tradition now 15 years strong. While many of you know that Babes is a hike for parents and their babies, what many may not know is that the hike meets year-round. What I love most about these hikes is that the Fells is a place where, like the Cape, you can easily become lost in your surroundings, especially in the calm of winter. And while the outdoors is a perfect place for solitary reflection, I think nature is meant, ultimately, to be shared.

What I’ve found the most spectacular over the last six months has been the change of the trails as one season becomes the next. We tend to rotate our hikes between five or six trails and amend them based on weather. It’s been amazing to see that a trail we hiked in July is now almost unrecognizable as the same path and the distance over which you can see now that the trees are bare.

Our winter hikes have transitioned from an hour-long hike to an hour and a half long jaunt with a short break midway for the dissemination of food and water to our younger set, who have ranged in age from four weeks to over two years. The new school of nature education lauds the return of children to unexplored outdoor spaces and away from electronic devices. Babes in the Woods exposes children to their natural surroundings at about as early an age as possible. Even the babies who slept through the entire hike in their earliest weeks of life are now keeping themselves awake and investigating with their eyes the canopy of trees, sky, and clouds under which we pass. I can only imagine the positive impact this will have on these babes as they grow into nature-loving toddlers.

Our group is dynamic; Most of the hikers who joined us in early June have returned to work, their babies to daycare, while others have been kept away by the cold. We’ll head into January with our small but intrepid group of regulars, a friendly and diverse mix of moms, dads, and guardians. We’ll hike through the cold and, most likely, some snow and watch as the flora and fauna make their gradual shifts through winter into spring. At the point at which we start to see some green buds and crocus points, I imagine we’ll begin to meet some new recruits and see a few returnees who will be ready to set out with us again in the milder temperatures. Whether you’re a brand new parent or a fourth-year hiker, we look forward to having you along!

~Gillian Badwan

Thank you to all who made our 15-year anniversary event on Saturday a huge success! We estimate nearly 150 people were in attendance to enjoy the live animal show from Critters ‘n Creatures, face-painting, and scavenger hunt! Thanks so much to the Medford Family Network and the North Suburban Child and Family Resource Network for support in planning the event, and to the Stone Zoo for donating zoo passes for the raffle! It was a fantastic day.

Here’s what our enthusiastic face-painter, Kathy, had to say about the event:

Just wanted to say what a fun and great event the reunion was on Saturday. Everything went well and the families enjoyed it. As I was doing tattoos I was asking what animals they enjoyed and what they were going to have painted on their face. Lots of nice interaction with the kids and parents. Hope to be celebrating 20 years with all of you.

Here are a few photos from the day’s events:

Kids and a Tortoise

Scavenger Hunt



Face Painting

Animal Show

Animals Close Up