Hey! Aaron here at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site.

This week I bring you another Service Spotlight! If you didn’t know, a Service Spotlight will be an informal interview with one of Fort Vancouver’s volunteers. Not only will you get to know them better, but you’ll get to see how they bring something special to our volunteer program.

This month I had a chance to talk with Betty Stoltz. Betty volunteers in the historic garden at the reconstructed fort. Betty is also a Master Gardener and a member of the Master Gardener Foundation of Clark County. Her help with the historic garden, not only the planning, implementation, and harvest, but also the hosting of volunteer groups, and her almost daily work in the garden, has been extremely appreciated! Here’s what Betty had to say:

How long have you been volunteering at Fort Vancouver?

I have worked as a Fort volunteer since July 2011. I got involved by virtue of being a Master Gardener. The MG Foundation helps support the Fort garden, and a number of the volunteers are Master Gardeners.

Which area do you volunteer in now and what do you typically do there?

I work primarily in the garden. We plan the garden each year, deciding what varieties of heirloom vegetables and flowers to plant. Virtually everything we grow was grown in the garden in the 1840s. Garden work consists of weeding, planting, watering, ongoing maintenance, and harvesting. We start some of the flowers and vegetables from seed in the Master Gardener greenhouses at the Heritage Farm on 78th Street. Others are sowed directly.

What’s your favorite thing about volunteering here at Fort Vancouver?

My favorite thing about volunteering in the garden is  being a part of creating a place that is so special to so many people,  whether first time visitors or local residents who walk through the garden on a daily basis. People regularly comment on how beautiful the garden is, and thank us for volunteering there. We have been told that the garden is “the gem of Vancouver”! It is also fun to see the reaction of children walking through the garden, sometimes seeing familiar vegetables growing for the first time.

What keeps you volunteering?

What keeps me volunteering is the appreciation of the visitors for what we do, as well as being able to work with a dedicated group of volunteers who love the garden as much as I do.

What the biggest challenge of being a volunteer and how do you overcome that?

I suppose the biggest challenge of being a volunteer is making some time for my own garden. I’ll let you know when I figure out how to do that!

What’s one thing you’d like to tell people who come to the fort?

I like to tell visitors to come back throughout the season to see how the garden changes.

Any fun facts about yourself or pieces of information that you’d want other’s to know?

I moved to Washington in 2007 in order to be closer to my grandson, Caleb. I retired after 30 years as an attorney for Yolo County, California.  My primary assignment was as attorney for Child Protective Services, representing the department in all child abuse and neglect cases in the Juvenile Court. Gardening is a lot more fun! My grandson, who is now 10 years old, volunteers in the garden with me sometimes. I’m determined to make a gardener out of him!

You may have noticed that a variety of small colorful plants have been planted around the garden. Those are Zinnias! This year the garden volunteers decided to plant about 200 of them in various spots. When I caught up with Betty she was in the process of putting a tray’s worth in the ground. Looks great!

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