Nature at the Confluence volunteers

A group of volunteers maintain the garden at Nature at the Confluence in South Beloit on one of the first Wednesday Work Days that began in May.

SOUTH BELOIT—Nature at the Confluence relies a lot on the generosity of area residents who volunteer their time to clean up and maintain the nature area’s grounds.

The hard work of the volunteers can be witnessed during the Wednesday Work Days, which began this month at the South Beloit nature area.

“This is the first summer we have started this program and it will go into the fall,” said Therese Oldenburg, Nature at the Confluence programming and education manager.

There has been previous clean up and volunteer programs, but this is the first Wednesday Work Days project the organization has hosted.

The event takes place usually from 10 a.m.—noon and participants meet at the Nature at the Confluence building at 306 Dickop St.

“Depending on the week we will focus on our Centennial Prairie restoration, gardens and trails,” Oldenburg said. “Each week we have a different objective and goals to accomplish.”

Nature of the Confluence includes a five-acre prairie restoration called Centennial Prairie, a learning garden, pollinator gardens, and several nature trails.

This Wednesday Work Days project is a five-month project to “beautify” the land.

Oldenburg and her team have not decided if this will continue into the fall, winter or spring months.

Nature at the Confluence is built on historic Ho-Chunk land. It previously was an area where many people would dump unwanted items such as TV sets, tires and other items. It also was a haven at times for transients.

The mission of the organization is to bring the Ho-Chunk land back to its “historic beauty.”

Programs like these are just one way Oldenburg and the team of volunteers work to accomplish this goal.

Since the Wednesday event started, volunteers have come out regularly, including Oldenburg.

“We accept all volunteers, even if they come out one Wednesday, it will be a big help,” Oldenburg said. “We have had a solid handful of volunteers coming back the first couple weeks.”

Teenagers can also volunteer, as long as they sign a waiver. The program is recommended for ages 12 and older.

“We also encourage families to come out, once school is out. They can make a morning of it,” Oldenburg noted.

The center provides work gloves and supplies to volunteers to use to weed the gardens, plant and clean up the area.

“Volunteers are welcome to bring their own gloves and supplies if they wish,” Oldenburg said.

Nature at the Confluence has several upcoming events.

One of these events is the Community Fire and Drum Circle kickoff event that will happen once a month.

This is a free event that will take place every the third Thursday a month going until 6:30-8 p.m. The dates include May 19, June 21, July 21, Aug. 18 and Sept. 15.

On June 21, Community Fire and Drum Circle will also include the Summer Solstice Celebration.

It is a family event around the “big fireplace” at Nature at the Confluence, according to Oldenburg.

“We provide drums and people are welcome to bring any percussion instruments to play at the event,” Oldenburg noted. “Children can make s’mores and sing around the fire.”

Hula hoops and dance ribbons will also be provided by the organization.

“We had this event before the pandemic, and people really enjoyed it,” Oldenburg said. “We wanted to be able to bring it back when it was safe to do so.”

More events and information on Wednesday Work Day’s can be found at the website natureattheconfluence.com.