Steward Highlight: Charlotte Bontrager
All of our Park Stewards are awesome. They volunteer 365 days a year and are a vital part of these off-leash areas. For the month of July, we would like to recognize the hard work of Charlotte Bontrager, Steward for Lower Woodland Off-leash Area.
Since she became a steward in November 2012, she has had a work party in her park each month on the first Saturday. Each party has averaged 20 people. With volunteer help, in 2013 they spread 3 loads of gravel at the park and have addressed the huge erosion problem they had on the east side of their hill. The Seattle Parks Department partnered with their amazing crew chief Desiree to provide the park with 5 loads of gravel and sand which was used to cover most of the park.
They managed to turn an area that was notorious for being a large pool of ankle deep mud into a long strip of land that is great for long distance fetching year round. The park was also previously known for being a “nasty park” filled with mud and dog poop. Charlotte and her dog park community have improved that label through hard work, devotion, word-of-mouth encouragement, and leading by example. She has started a “poop campaign” by posting catchy and entertaining posters to encourage the community to be more proactive in cleaning up. Charlotte Bontrager has a vision for her park:
“My overall vision for Lower Woodland OLA is for it to be fully covered with a healthy layer of gravel. We will terrace the west side of our hill, make efforts for better tree conservation, and support The Parks Department in replacing our inner fence.”
Charlotte reports that her experience has been wonderful so far. Seeing the improvements and the pride in her area increase in just a few months has been not only rewarding for her, but should be something every OLA should be striving for! Charlotte continues to work hard, watching her park and the pups that play there grow. She has expressed her thanks to COLA for providing the funds for making the terracing possible among the other expenses they cover!
This is a prime example of how with the right people, dedication, and togetherness, we can make our parks blossom into something beautiful for our city’s dogs. Community, Stewards, COLA, and The Parks Department are all working together to make our parks a better place. Hats off to Charlotte Bontrager for her efforts, ingenuity, sense of community, and leading by example.
– All quotes from a letter written by Charlotte on June 19, 2013