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Volunteers are indispensable to operation of ABC
Volunteers are indispensable to operation of ABC

Assistance from volunteers is integral to the success of any nonprofit organization. ABC has been fortunate enough to have received the time and effort of several people over the last year who have helped with the operation and day-to-day affairs that keep everything (and everyone) in the organization running smoothly.

To honor these special members of our team, HerbalGram has devoted a special column to them and their much-appreciated contributions.

Our first is Summer Chartier, a junior at the University of Texas at Austin (UT) who comes to ABC twice a week to help with gardening and plant care.

On a day when the weather doesn’t allow her to help in the gardens, she can be found working diligently in the New Hope Greenhouse on ABC’s 2.5 acre campus.

“It’s fun,” she says, as she goes about repotting seedlings, her hands covered in soil. Most of her time is spent working with and caring for ABC’s gardens and test plots of medicinal plants.

With a year and a half left at UT, she intends to get her degree in plant biology and go to graduate school to study plant-to-plant signaling—though she laments the fact that no researchers at UT currently work in that exact field. Still, she gets plenty of opportunities to work with her subjects while volunteering at ABC, where education coordinator Gayle Engels and gardener Nathanael Sponseller are more than willing to let her take an intimate approach to her work with plant life.

“I’ve always loved plants,” she says, packing another seedling into its pot, “I really like working with them.”

Inside the Case Mill Homestead, working more with people than plants, Nichole Gauna has been with ABC since October 2003. She occasionally helps Sponseller with the gardens outside but mostly aids the ABC staff with administrative chores indoors. A senior at LBJ High School in Austin, she chose to volunteer at ABC because she thought the work would be fun but ended up enjoying the people even more. “Everyone here is really cool,” she says. “When I leave, what I’ll remember is the people.”

A fan of photography, Nichole intends to pursue the subject in college next year. At ABC, she has already received a good deal of education, though not necessarily in her subject of interest.

“I’ve grown more into [herbs] since I’ve been here,” she says. “I feel like I’ve learned a lot.”

—Jon Lucksinger