Volunteer Spotlight


SCA Volunteer Matt Harrison demonstrates model-making techniques during a Good Neighbors Education Program.

"For me, this first experience in education has set a lofty precedent and inspired me to think about the importance of place-based learning."

-Matt Harrison
SCA Education Volunteer

Read more about Matt's experience working with Good Neighbors: Landscape Design & Community Building in his personal essay.

To learn more about Good Neighbors, visit our For Teachers page.
To learn more about volunteering with Good Neighbors, visit our Volunteer page.



Visitor Service Representative Volunteer Liz Ferry greets visitor at Olmsted NHS's front desk.

Photo by Matt Griffing.

"The field trips VIPs have taken have been just great; I have enjoyed all that I have been fortunate enough to go on. ... What an unexpected bonus for a four-hour stint once a week!"

-Liz Ferry
Visitor Services Volunteer
Liz Ferry,
Visitor Services Representative

Meet Visitor Services Representative Liz Ferry, who has volunteered at Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site since 2003. Liz has held down the Monday morning shift since she arrived here that year, serving as a front-line contact with the public, whether in-person or via the telephone.

A Brookline, Massachusetts resident, Liz was introduced to the site by attending one of the Holiday Open Houses held here annually before the site closed in 2005 for a major preservation construction project. When her time became flexible some time after the Open House, she thought volunteering at Fairsted would be an interesting way to spend some time each week.

What keeps Liz coming to Fairsted are the passion many visitors have for Frederick Law Olmsted and the satisfaction of working with the site's paid staff that "appreciate(s) my small contribution!" In addition, she has enjoyed field trips to area sites of interest organized periodically for the volunteers. "What an unexpected bonus for a four-hour stint once a week! Loved Adams National Historic Park especially because of the range of history involved and the beauty of the gardens and library." Liz also recalls the thrill of walking across the award-winning Leonard Zakim- Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge in Boston before it opened to vehicular traffic.

She also reports another benefit from volunteering at the site: learning about Olmsted's work around the country outside of his well-known Boston (Emerald Necklace) and New York (Central Park) designs. She further has become more familiar with the National Park Service and has made a point of visiting other NPS sites. She has made several visits to Joshua Tree National Park since 2003 and has been struck by the spring desert flower blooms there.

Liz's outside hobbies include cooking as well as being a news junkie and a self-described Italophile. She has made seven trips to Italy over the past 10 years and took Italian lessons for two years with her husband Mike to help make their trips smoother and more meaningful.

We continue to appreciate Liz's tireless presence, warmth, and enthusiasm.

"I feel such a sense of accomplishment when a visitor gives me positive feedback.
I feel particularly proud when a visitor tells me the 'learned a lot.'"

-Caeden Byrnie,
Interpretation Ambassador Volunteer

Caeden Brynie
Interpretation Ambassador

Caeden volunteered at Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site for four months from June to September 2012. A junior at Wellesley College majoring in history, Caeden applied to be an Interpretation Ambassador after being told about the opportunity by a fellow Wellesley student who had previously interned at the site. She became interested in volunteering at the site, not because she had a passion for Frederick Law Olmsted or a particular interest in landscape architecture, quite the opposite. She applied to volunteer at the site because it afforded her the opportunity to learn about a person and subject which she knew relatively little. According to Caeden, she was "only vaguely aware of who Frederick Law Olmsted was" before she began volunteering at the site; "certainly I knew he had designed Central Park and the 1893 Chicago World's Fair, but I was unaware of just how many projects the Olmsted firm worked on and oblivious to the remarkable legacy of the Olmsteds."

Caeden enjoyed learning about Olmsted and landscape architecture. She did not, however, anticipate just how much she would gain from her time at the site. She is now, not only, well-versed in the history of Fairsted and the firm, but she has also learned a great deal about how to communicate this knowledge to visitors.

After learning the theory behind interpretation, Caeden, with much appreciated guidance from the permanent staff, developed her own tour. Beginning in early July, Caeden gave one or two tours a day. Caeden describes giving tours as both the most challenging and the most rewarding part of her volunteer experience: "I really enjoy being able to educate visitors about the Olmsteds and I feel such a sense of accomplishment when a visitor gives me positive feedback. I feel particularly proud when a visitor tells me the 'learned a lot.'"

Caeden also credits her experience as an Interpretation Ambassador with helping to improve both her public speaking skills and the ability to think on her feet. In that regard, she feels that volunteering at Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site was a great way to supplement her academic education: "I can't stress enough how much I learned here. I strongly encourage other college students, or anyone actually, to volunteer. I got so much out of my brief time here and I know others will as well."

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