Kent Doughty uses volunteering as a way to be a part of ‘something bigger’
Kent Doughty applied for the Nestucca Bay National Wildlife Refuge resident volunteer opening late in 2019, when operations were “normal.” He, just like the rest of the world, had no idea what was just around the corner.
Kent had recently retired as a stream ecologist with Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife when he ran across and ad looking for a resident volunteer at the refuge. He was just getting settled into his new home and position when the coronavirus hit, closing public access to the refuge for a while.
“I had a 1,300-acre backyard for the first few months while the refuge was closed,” Kent said. “I missed the opportunity to interact with visitors, so that was a disappointment. But on the positive side I got to see the refuge and animals in a very natural state.”
Kent’s responsibilities include maintenance of the grounds, cleaning and maintaining public use facilities and assisting with efforts to restore and manage coastal prairie. Kent is responsible for ongoing development and maintenance of two new fishing access trails that provide some of the only bank fishing opportunities in the Nestucca Bay watershed.
To date, Kent has given over 1,200 hours to wildlife/habitat projects and grounds maintenance, including repairing and installing nest boxes for migratory songbirds on the refuge. He monitored each one according to the protocol from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology for a long-term project called Nestwatch. To date, more than 100 swallows have fledged from these boxes!
Kent has taken all the challenges of the past year in stride, with a smile beneath his mask. Through all the uncertainty he has continued to maintain Nestucca Bay NWR for the public, improve habitat for wildlife, and above all, prioritize safety of visitors, fellow volunteers, and refuge staff.
Volunteering on a refuge is an experience that everyone should try, Kent says.
“I had just retired from Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and was looking for something purposeful and to give back,” Kent said. “To me, it’s incredibly rewarding to give back and be of service, especially on something that is so much bigger than myself like restoring the prairie and the refuge here. I would encourage everybody to volunteer. You get an awareness of the natural world around you that you don’t usually get to experience.”
- Article by Oregon Coast National Wildlife Refuge staff and Brent Lawrence, public affairs officer for the Columbia Pacific Northwest region.