Volunteer Spotlight: Laura M.

I often joke to colleagues and friends that even though I’m the Manager of Volunteer Engagement, it feels like it’s everyone else who gets to know the volunteers. Once you’re interviewed and oriented, many people begin to build relationships with the our amazing staff throughout Reiman Gardens. Luckily for me, there are quite a few volunteers  whom I’ve gotten to know anyway–and none more so than the Plant a Row for the Hungry volunteers who come to Reiman Gardens every Monday morning. I’ve found no better way to start the week than working alongside our PAR volunteers to collect, weigh, sort, and distribute donated produce to area food banks. Laura M. is one of the volunteers I spend a few hours a week with, and she’s this week’s spotlight!

Laura M., volunteer since 2021

A woman in a pink shirt stands in a field of colorful flowers that grow almost as tall as she is. Behind her is a wooden cottage and green trees.

Laura stands amongst her zinnia cutting garden, with the garden house that her husband built in the background.

Why did you first decide to volunteer at Reiman Gardens?

My husband Dave and I started volunteering here in 2021 when Reiman Gardens began hosting the Plant-A-Row program. Before that, a group of volunteers from Ames Morning Rotary had been sorting and distributing the donated produce to local food pantries. I thought it sounded like fun to see all the fruit and vegetables grown in Reiman’s test gardens and donated by farmers market vendors as well as various community gardeners for people who need it. We meet every Monday morning during the growing season to sort donations and deliver to five food pantries in Ames. At the peak of the season, we can fill two pickup trucks with tomatoes, cucumbers, squash and lots of other produce.

Why did you continue to volunteer here?

Reiman staff members are really friendly and always happy to work with volunteers. I also enjoy meeting other people who love gardening as much as I do.

What types of volunteering did you try, and what were your favorite types of volunteering opportunities?

I have helped change out the conservatory plantings, which is hard work but incredibly satisfying to see the end results. The creativity is amazing!

What do you do for fun when you aren’t at Reiman Gardens?

I love my flowers – and so do our honey bees! I enjoy learning about honey bees and being part of a local beekeeping club. I also like to go kayaking, quilt, and spend time with our grandchildren.

Tell us specifically why you enjoy volunteering for Plant a Row for the Hungry.

It feels good to deliver fresh food to people who will appreciate it. We’ve been told that the produce goes quickly, which is great.

Anything else you’d like to share?

There’s always something interesting going on at Reiman Gardens. Things are always changing.

You may have seen Laura in a recent newsletter with three of her grandchildren. Laura brought them along one morning to help us when her husband Dave, a regular PAR volunteer, wasn’t available. You can see that the apples don’t fall far from the tree–this is a family of nature-loving, kind-hearted individuals.

We at Reiman are so thankful for generous, caring, and kind volunteers who pour themselves into the preservation and appreciation of the natural world for our visitors.  If you’d like more information about volunteering, learn more here.