By Amanda Hoffman
When Tatiana Loch saw the opening for a volunteer tour guide at Hugh Taylor Birch State Park, she signed up immediately thinking it would be a great way to expand her professional background and contribute her extensive knowledge of South Florida history to the community. Tatiana really does know her stuff about South Florida’s history: she is currently seeking her Master’s in Education and she works as a museum educator.
Tatiana is no stranger to volunteering. “Over the years I’ve volunteered in several areas and was even an AmeriCorps volunteer for two years. I love the environment and history so I saw the opportunity at Hugh Taylor Birch as a unique chance to blend the two in a beautiful and rich setting.”
After noticing signs for HandsOn Broward at some of the events she volunteered at, Tatiana decided to check us out on her own to find volunteer opportunities in her area.
For Tatiana, volunteering is about not just about serving one’s community and, “supporting organizations and the community by often filling a need or enriching an effort which may be more challenging or unrealistic without the assistance,” but also about bringing people together.
“The nicest thing about [volunteering] though, I think, is how it brings people from diverse backgrounds together, nurtures a sense of community, and can be a simple way to give and help.”
Tatiana stresses that, in tough economic times like today, volunteering is more important than ever. “Under the present economic circumstances, I also think it’s important because it provides an avenue to develop professional skills and network which can assist in acquiring or improving employment.”
At Hugh Taylor Birch State Park, Tatiana’s duties include shadowing park rangers as she trains to become a tour guide. “A typical Friday usually involves following and assisting one of the Park Rangers on their weekly walks which cover several themes. I take pictures and notes compiling a library of information that can be referred to later.”
Tatiana is also putting her own twist on tours by using her background knowledge of South Florida history. “I am also working with a fellow volunteer to research and present historical information about the development of barrier islands and Florida’s geology, pre-historic mega fauna and flora, as well as local colonial and pioneer history. The goal is for volunteers and Rangers to be able to incorporate the information during walks.”
How soon until Tatiana becomes an official tour guide? “I look forward to guiding my own tours in the coming month,” she says.
Because she chooses projects that incorporate her own passions, for new volunteers, Tatiana urges them to, “use the opportunity to explore new areas where your skills and interests intersect.”
Good luck on your new role as park tour guide and thank you for everything you do, Tatiana!
If you want to follow in Tatiana’s footsteps and become a tour guide at Hugh Taylor Birch State Park, head out to the park on either a Friday or Saturday morning at 10:30 and go on a tour. For more information and to express interest as a State Park Tour Guide, click here.