Written by Makhayla LaButte, MUCC Habitat Volunteer Coordinator

It’s that wonderful time of year when family and friends gather to celebrate and give thanks, and I am looking forward to going home to the Upper Peninsula to do exactly that in the coming week. However, before I depart from the office, I want to take a moment to thank the people I have met through the On the Ground (OTG) program. The OTG program has grown significantly in recent years through the engagement of Michiganders from each corner of the state. Each individual I have met since I became the coordinator of this program in May 2019 has shared their wisdom, kindness and dedication to our state’s natural resources. These interactions are one of my favorite parts of this career.

The truth is that every wildlife volunteer I have met enjoys the outdoors in a different way and is inspired to give back for a different reason. Some of them pursue the thrill of a flushed game bird, others enjoy viewing the majesty of elk in the Pigeon River Country and many others prefer the peaceful isolation of their deer blind on opening day. However, the one thing all OTG participants can agree on is that the best way to give thanks for what nature has given you is to give back.

Thank you to the 3,000 volunteers that have given back to their natural resources by impacting more than 2,000 acres of public land through more than 14,000 volunteer hours. Conservation is a team sport, and we couldn’t do it without you.

If you have the time this holiday season, share your passion for the outdoors with a friend or family member and explore some of your public lands. No matter how you celebrate and give thanks for your outdoor heritage and the year’s harvests, I hope you have a peaceful and rejuvenating Thanksgiving.

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