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Dedicated Volunteers Help Care for Alabama’s Talladega National Forest

Volunteers on the Talladega National Forest work to help keep forest recreation areas like the Pine Glen campgrounds clean and ready for visitors.  U.S. Forest Service photo.

Volunteers on the Talladega National Forest work to help keep forest recreation areas like the Pine Glen campgrounds clean and ready for visitors. U.S. Forest Service photo.

Volunteers play an integral part in helping the Forest Service reach its annual goals in managing healthy national forests.  And on Alabama’s Talladega National Forest, three exceptional volunteers have dedicated countless hours towards this work:  John Calhoun, Ray Bittle and Charles Laminack.

John Calhoun, a nature enthusiast, shares his passion by maintaining forest trails or helping other hikers explore nature.  He carries the nickname, “Mother Nature’s Son.” because of his commitment to sharing his knowledge and love of nature.

His hiking experiences provided the opportunity to enjoy nature, as well as practice generosity.

“It was the wonderful folks I met along the way, the strangers that became my friends when they offered me a ride or put me up for the night that made the hike such a wonderful experience,” said Calhoun.

Ray Bittle is known as a man for all seasons.  Whether spring, summer, winter or fall, you can find Ray involved in some type of volunteer activity on the Talladega National Forest’s Shoal Creek District.  He has served as a campground host for 12 years, maintained hiking and horse trails, participated in Earth Day clean-up events and assisted with the kid’s fishing derby.  Bittle is also an active board member for the new Friends of the Talladega National Forest group.

Volunteer Charles Laminack, a campground host on the forest’s Shoal Creek District, doesn’t have to worry when others talk behind his back because what is said extols his dedication and service.

Larry Holyfied, Shoal Creek District recreation technician, says of Laminack, “I can always count on Charles when I need help,” said Larry Holyfield, a recreation technician on the forest.  “Whether it’s clearing a downed tree blocking the road or fixing a broken pipe in the bathhouse, he’s there to help me out.  He loves Coleman Lake and it shows.”

President Obama issued a Presidential Proclamation deeming this week National Volunteer Week, encouraging every American to observe the week by volunteering in service projects across the country and pledging to make service part of their daily lives.  To get started on a project near you, visit www.Serve.gov.

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