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The Wrack

The Wrack is the Wells Reserve blog, our collective logbook on the web.

Seeing the Positives: Steve Podsiadlo

Posted by | March 11, 2022 | Filed under: Culture

What do Brexit, salt marshes, and geology have in common? They are all presentations that Steve Podsiadlo will be giving this spring. Steve is a lifelong learner with a natural curiosity and a love of reading, qualities that make a wonderful Wells Reserve docent, which he definitely is!

Four years ago, Steve saw an ad for volunteers in a local publication. He stopped by on a cold March day and met Program Coordinator Caryn Beiter. Four years later, Steve is a trained docent, leading public tours, and introducing visitors to the wonders of the Reserves estuary and beach. 

Docents like Steve inspire visitors to a deeper connection with nature and with the Reserve. A public tour means a varied audience, and docents need to be ready to engage both the 5-year old and the 75-year old, sometimes in the same program! Where to begin? Steve starts with the facts:

Being a docent, I am heavy on facts and figures. I try to make sure everything I say is accurate. I look for items of interest, and interesting stories. Slipper snails are interesting. They start out all male. If there is not a female around, a male will land on a substrate and start changing into a female. Once changed into a female, another male will land on her, then start changing into a female. I look for interesting stories that cause people to ask, Why does that happen? 

Steve is drawn to scientific subjects, and the environment. In the 1980s, he used his organizational strengths, forming a local coalition to keep a commercial landfill out of Lebanon, Maine. He has taught courses on foreign policy and world affairs for York County Senior College and volunteered for Biddeford Middle Schools STEM program. 

We have twins next door to us, a boy and girl. When the girl was in 4th grade, she was looking for nature-related items for her science class.. She had some things that weren't so great, so I said, Cmon lets go find more. Ive collected rocks since I was a boy and gave her some mica and other interesting things. What we found must have impressed the teacher. She said, Will you ask your neighbor if he will come in and talk to the class?

As a Reserve volunteer, Steve likes being part of what he sees as a win-win situation. Being a docent means time set aside to visit the beach, to view the marsh, to connect with people. A self-described introvert, Steve leads tours as a way to be more involved with people. 

I think that maybe some people on the guided walks are the same way. Sea level rise, climate change, the environment are all in the news. People are motivated. They are interested in the environment, they have a spark about it, and now they have someone to talk with. I see goodness in that, I see the positives. 

Steve and other Reserve volunteers will be participating in our Get Involved! virtual information sessions on March 22 and March 31 for anyone interested in discovering the benefits of volunteering, for oneself and the community. As Steve says, its a win-win. 

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