News: Wasp Sailors Help Maintain Norfolk Botanical Garden
NORFOLK, Va. – As part of their ongoing Volunteer Service Program, a group of 18 sailors from USS Wasp spent their time Sept. 14 helping to maintain the plants and buildings at Norfolk Botanical Garden.
Encompassing 155 acres of land, the garden is intended as an educational attraction for people to learn in-depth about plant life and how to be stewards of the environment. During their visit, the Wasp sailors helped the garden’s regular staff with mulching, painting buildings, and soil preparation in the greenhouse, among other tasks.
“Most people in this area like the botanical garden, so we figured that we would get a lot of volunteers if we scheduled this as one of our projects,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Bridgett Penate, air traffic controller, the event’s coordinator. “Eventually, more people signed up for this than the garden staff would allow.”
For some of the sailors who volunteered, helping to keep the botanical garden in top shape was a job they greatly enjoyed.
“I like being outdoors, so this seemed like the perfect project to be involved with,” said Seaman Tyler Irie, information systems technician. “Any time I get to work with nature I have a great time.”
The garden’s regular staff of 16 saw their workload for the day greatly lessened by the efforts of the volunteers, a fact which some of them described as shining a positive light on today’s young sailors.
“I’m a retired Chief, and I know what good people we have in the Navy, so it was great to have so many sailors out here willing to lend a hand,” said Bob Davis, a senior gardener. “Like many of them, I love the outdoors and gardening, so this was the field I decided to go into after my retirement.”
Beyond tending the local environment, these types of VSP events mutually benefit the volunteers and those they help, explained Cmdr. Michael Hall, Wasp’s command chaplain.
“It’s good for us to get out into the community, because sailors are very giving people,” said Hall. “Events such as these help out both the people we assist, as well as ourselves by bringing out our generous side.”
The visit to the Botanical Garden also gave Wasp sailors a chance not only to help out the local community but also to experience first-hand the beauty of nature.
“I had always wanted to visit this garden because I love plants and horticulture in general,” said Lt. j.g. Richard Martinson. “It’s fascinating to see new plants sprout up from basically nothing, and gardening is very relaxing.”