Wednesday Warrior volunteers

Volunteer & Place: A Perfect Match

50 Stories for 50 Years

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Dan Sauerbrei has been a dedicated member of Wednesday Warriors, a volunteer group that comes weekly to maintain the trails, grounds and facilities at Indian Creek Nature Center. Dan was recognized for his commitment to improving our grounds with a Land Volunteer of the Year Award in 2019. Dan continues to contribute to the health, accessibility and beauty of the Nature Center through various projects that give him an excuse to get outdoors where he finds peace, partnership and purpose.

Becoming a Wednesday Warrior

Dan Sauerbrei with mountain bike
Dan enjoys getting outdoors whether that means mountain biking or chainsawing.

My wife, Kelle Kolkmeier (who started as a teacher-naturalist in 2018), suggested that I volunteer with Indian Creek Nature Center. Initially I signed up for Wednesday Warriors in the spring and summer of 2018 and have added helping during Nature’s Noel, Maple Syrup Festival, and the Spring Plant & Art Sale to my roster. 

Not only do I volunteer at the Nature Center, I also regularly mountain bike along the Sac & Fox Trail, as well as the eastern edges of the prairies, which gives me great satisfaction. I particularly enjoy observing the changes during the seasons. 

The prairies are my favorite place because they offer what I like to call “Open Solitude.” I prefer mornings or late afternoons due to the angle of the sunlight. When I was a young boy I grew up on a farm located on the eastern edge of the Sweet Marsh in Bremer County. Many of the prairies and marshes of the Nature Center remind me of that special place.

Making Memories

My favorite memories involve working alongside the other volunteers! In particular, I have very fond memories of working with Tom Cleveland. He was always welcoming, and you were going to learn something new every time you worked with Tom.

Hands down the project I’m most proud of is being a part of the Sun Dial Memorial for Tom Cleveland. Also, the extensive work to clean up after the 2020 derecho has been difficult but rewarding. Although the damage from the derecho negatively impacted the surrounding forests of the Nature Center, it is exciting being a part of forest restoration.

In fall of 2022, volunteers installed a sun dial exhibit in memory of fellow volunteer Tom Cleveland.

Having participated in a lot of projects and events, I’ve noticed the sheer number of people who come out to experience everything the Nature Center has to offer. This makes me believe that caring for the environment is on the minds of many citizens in our community. If people care about it, they will hopefully care for it

I plan to stay involved with various land team projects, collection of and processing maple sap in March, and other major events that fit my schedule.

I think that the Nature Center is a valuable resource for the community, being a natural sanctuary located so close to an urban setting. Helping the land team maintain the trails and the grounds (particularly in the continuing recovery effort after the derecho) makes these natural settings available to all community members to enjoy.

As a recent retiree, I knew that I wanted to contribute positively to my community. Being raised on a farm, I have always relished being outdoors. The Nature Center was a perfect match for me. It’s a great place to visit, de-stress and be a part of nature.

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