Volunteering In Nature: An Opportunity to Continue Changing Children’s Lives

Welcome back to Volunteering in Nature, a blog series that explores the wonderful world of volunteering for UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County’s ecology and natural resources program. If you’ve been following along so far, you’ve last read an interview with Anne Maloney, a volunteer whose family legacy of love for the outdoors inspired her to share that same love with youth in the community. If you are just joining us, welcome! The ecology and natural resources program at UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County is supported by dedicated volunteers who utilize the knowledge that they have gained from their passions, interests, professional experience, and hobbies to give back to the community of Sarasota County. Each volunteer has their own story, and in this blog, we are highlighting volunteer Karen Boyd. Karen draws on her professional experience to inform her role as a volunteer for some of Extension’s youth programs, where she has the opportunity to continue positively impacting the lives of children.

Interview With Karen Boyd


Volunteer Karen Boyd wears an olive green colored t-shirt and a black baseball cap as she leans on a picnic table watching a student adjusting his microscope.
After dip-netting at Twin Lakes Park, Karen watches as a 4-H camp participant adjusts his microscope to view a specimen from the lake.

What is your professional background, and what are your related hobbies or interests? 

After graduating with a BS in education, I taught 3rd grade for 5 years, then I took time off to have 5 children (3 boys and 2 girls). When my youngest child was in kindergarten, I went back to school to become an RN. I had dreamed of being a nurse since I was very young. 

After I graduated, I worked as an ICU nurse and an ER trauma nurse for 40 years. Later, I traveled all over the world, rode a motorcycle, owned a horse, owned a boat, camped, fished, went scuba diving, and taught swimming. 

Currently, I have 11 grandchildren and 5 great grandchildren. When I have time, I paint (mostly rocks) and travel. Last year I went to England, Ireland, and Scotland for a month. 

How did you learn about this opportunity to volunteer with the ecology and natural resources program at UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County, and what interested you about this opportunity? 

I started nature classes for children at Shamrock Park. Teresa, the park manager, suggested that I would enjoy and have the background for working with the LIFE program which, in Sarasota County, is coordinated by the ecology and natural resources program.  Everything else evolved from there.

What do you enjoy most about volunteering with the ecology and natural resources program? 

I love working with kids and always welcome the chance to educate them about nature and conservation. 

Please share some of your favorite experiences or memories while volunteering. 

I love teaching the little kids at Shamrock Park about nature. Sometimes I see them years later and it’s amazing what they remember.   

I also love watching the kids’ reactions to all the different programs. I always learn something new every time I assist with one of these programs. I really enjoyed watching the 4-H Exploring Your Environment campers doing their end of the week presentations.  It is amazing to see how much they have learned and how smart they are.   

I would be happy if I could continue to volunteer with children until I’m a hundred!

Thank you Karen!

Volunteer Karen Boyd wears an olive green colored t-shirt, a black baseball cap, and khaki capris. She stands a few feet away from a lake, watching a group of children in front of her who are crouched down on the ground looking into white bins as they hold long-handled dipnets.
Karen watches over children as they excitedly empty their dipnets into bins to examine what critters they have found in the lake.

Karen’s exciting life experiences must make for many beautiful stories and fond memories! Children are often as varied in their personalities, experiences, and interests as adults, and when we are able to share our passions with them, we never know how we may connect with and inspire them. As a volunteer with the ecology and natural resources program, Karen is able to use her own experiences to make a positive change in the lives of Sarasota County youth- influencing the next generation of conservationists and nature lovers.

How You Can Become A Volunteer

Want to utilize your own skills, passions, or experiences to lend a helping hand to the ecology and natural resources program? We have something for everyone- retired educators and those who enjoy working with children will find fulfillment assisting with our youth programs. If working with children does not interest you, help us table at community events, or guide adult nature walks in Sarasota County’s natural area preserves! Volunteers can also offer their wildlife and nature photography skills to capture inspiring images to be used for educational materials or provide vital administrative support. 

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, contact Dr. Katherine Clements, kclements@scgov.net, to express interest and learn more about the volunteer application process. 

Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much. -Helen Keller

What To Look for Next in This Series  

Be sure to read previous posts in the Volunteering in Nature Series to learn all about the world of volunteering for UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County’s ecology and natural resources program. Visit the collection of blogs here, or choose an individual blog from the list below to get started! Check back for exciting and heartwarming stories of special moments shared between volunteers, staff, youth, and community members. 


Zahir Ringgold Cordes, Environmental Education and Outreach Program Assistant for UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County's Ecology and Natural Resources Program
Posted: August 31, 2023

Category: 4-H & Youth, Camp, Community Volunteers, Natural Resources, UF/IFAS Extension, Work & Life
Tags: Pgm_EcoNR, Volunteer, Volunteering_in_nature

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