Liz and Ross Wunderlich, New Volunteers

When Tom and I arrived at Fort Frederica National Monument this year, we met new volunteers Liz and Ross Wunderlich.  Liz and Ross had started in December and worked through the end of January.

We quickly got to know and like Liz and Ross.  Both of them are engineers, which gave them something in common with Tom.  Liz worked as the City Engineer for Sturgis, South Dakota before she retired.  Ross worked as a cost engineer for Exxon Mobil before retirement.  Because of his work with Exxon Mobil, the two of them lived in Great Britain and France before settling back in the United States.  They raised their family in Nebraska, moving for Liz’s job while Ross worked remotely.

Lance Travel Trailer

Ross’s mom, sister, and his mom’s husband live here on St. Simons Island, so Liz and Ross have visited the island many times.  This year they decided to stay a little longer and try volunteering while they were here.  Liz works in the Visitors Center and Ross does maintenance.  They are camping in a Lance Travel Trailer.  Both of them are curious and love to learn new things and see new places.  We have had a lot of fun with them on our volunteer game nights.

Ross cleaning up the trails

Ross’s main job seems to be picking up limbs and clearing out areas alongside the park trails.  The park has been his retirement exercise program.  He has also helped refurbish a table for the Visitors Center.  Liz has recently expanded her work in the Visitors Center.  She has been helping pick up the trash along the road.  I taught her how to knit and she has been doing that a bit in the Visitors Center.  She is a fast learner and knits very evenly already.

Liz knitting in the VC

Last week Liz tried a dip into living history.  Tom and I found out she took a spoon carving class, so we encouraged her to sit on the breezeway and do some spoon carving.  Tom also showed her how to use the drawknife and the shaving horse.  Unfortunately, Ranger Phil shut down her attempt at living history after just one afternoon.  He said it wasn’t in her job description.  I’m not sure why he wouldn’t put it in her job description.  I thought we all had “And other duties as assigned” in our job descriptions.  Liz was enjoying talking to visitors about spoon carving and the visitors always like seeing a historical activity.

Working with the drawknife

On their days off, they do things with Ross’s family.  They also enjoy riding bikes.  In fact, Ross likes to ride so much that he will work all day here at the park and then ride 20 to 40 miles after work.  He has a lot more energy than I do.

Liz and Ross aren’t sure if they will volunteer in the National Parks again.  I think they have enjoyed volunteering more now that they aren’t the only volunteers here.  But the 32 hours a week required can be a lot when you are retired.  On the other hand, the free RV spot on a beautiful coastal island is a great perk.  Both of them agree that Georgia is much better than South Dakota in the winter.

Tom and I have enjoyed working with the Wunderlichs and would love to work with them again.  They are hard workers who follow through and like to learn new things.  In addition, they are just fun to be around.