We have been volunteering here at The Disney Wilderness Preserve for The Nature Conservancy since the end of October. It is going well. In exchange for around 28 hours a week, we get a full hook up RV spot, laundry, WiFi and the use of off road vehicles and tools. We don’t work every week. It is an odd schedule of 2 days on/3 days off, 2 days on/3 days off, 2 days on/9 days off. That way workampers can get away if they choose to explore some of Florida. There are three couples here including Craig and I.
We do work like-keeping the office areas clean, landscaping, answering questions around the small visitor center, checking bathrooms, cleaning garages, maintaining vehicles, sharpening tools, planting, etc.
Our boss/volunteer coordinator, the other staff and workampers are all great. We have get togethers every week and it has been interesting talking to visitors and workers from NEON, Americorps, Disney, etc.
When Disney built Celebration and Animal Kingdom back in the 90’s, they bought the nearly 12,000 acres here in mitigation. They donated it to The Nature Conservancy to run. It saved the land from developers. The headwaters to the Everglades are here and we see heron, egrets, wood stork, Sandhill cranes, eagle, ospreys, Florida Scrub Jay, Red-cockaded Woodpeckers, alligators, otter, Gopher tortoise, snakes and more every day. We hear coyotes and see raccoon and bobcat tracks too!
It has been peaceful here, but much less isolated than Yellowstone. We have Publix, Aldi, Walmart, food places, a post office and library five minutes away. We are 40 minutes to Walt Disney World, Universal, Sea World and shopping. We are less than an hour to downtown Orlando.
We are enjoying volunteering here, but are ready to make some money soon! If you are in the Central Florida area, visit The Disney Wilderness Preserve. Take a nice walk to Lake Russell, one of the last undeveloped lakes in Florida! We will keep you updated on where we head next.