Volunteers pitch in as Como Park Stewards

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For over 100 years, Como Regional Park has been meeting the recreational needs of residents of Saint Paul and surrounding communities. There really is something for everyone at the park with Como Lake and the Lakeside Pavilion, athletic fields, bike and boat rentals, Marjorie McNeely Conservatory, Como Zoo, Cafesjian’s Carousel, golf, skiing, and swimming opportunities, the Como Woodland Outdoor Classroom, the Historic Streetcar Station, and more.
The District 10 Environment Committee, in partnership with Saint Paul Parks and Recreation, has started a new project this summer. The Como Park Steward Program is made up of individuals, families, school groups, faith communities, and other organizations willing to pitch in to help keep Como Park looking clean, safe, and welcoming.
Project organizer Tricia Wehrle is the natural resources volunteer coordinator for Saint Paul Parks and Recreation. She recruits and trains volunteers to help manage natural areas within Saint Paul’s regional parks, which all combined make up about 2,600 acres of land.
Wehrle said, “Stewardship can happen in any of our city parks. We’ve seen a high level of commitment from Como residents to maintain and protect Como Lake and surrounding green spaces over the years, so we decided to formalize the program. We already have 18 people on board with the Como Park Steward Program, and we’re aiming for at least a dozen more. Como Regional Park is a great park, and a premier natural location in the middle of the city.”
Como Park Stewards have the option to choose which parcel they will steward, though this is on a first-come, first-serve basis. Check out the interactive park map at www.district10comopark.org/parksteward, and see which areas are in need of stewards. Inquiries and registration take place on that same page.
Stewards work in partnership with the city of Saint Paul to report tree damage in their parcel, graffiti, and other concerns. Stewards also participate in ongoing and special event clean-up. There is a minimum one-year commitment, with one hour (or so) site visits at least twice monthly. This is a year-round commitment.
The Como Park Steward Program is designed to enhance, not replace, regular maintenance of the park.

The #1 requirement
Completed applications are reviewed by Wehrle, who follows up with a short telephone interview. What quality is she looking for in applicants? The passion for demonstrating a strong environmental ethos.
She explained, “We created this program because keeping the park clean matters to our community; better environmental health creates better all-around health. We want visitors to feel that Como Park is an extension of home. This is everyone’s park.”

How it works
Once they receive their parcel assignment, volunteers are encouraged to bring their own bucket and gloves on site visits. If that is a barrier to participation, Wehrle will do her best to supply needed items.
Volunteers are asked to report their hours via email or an online form. This can be done weekly, monthly or quarterly. Contact Wehrle at tricia.wehrle@ci.stpaul.mn.us or call 651.632.2411 with questions.
Como Regional Park is located at 1199 Midway Parkway.

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