Travis Swearengin is honored as the City of Columbia’s November Volunteer of the Month for his work with the Douglass baseball program, a non-competitive league for kids 5-10 years old. Travis serves the program in several roles: board member, coach and baseball camp leader.
Travis started volunteering with Douglass baseball four or five years ago after connecting with Camren Cross, Community Recreation Supervisor. With over 15 years of baseball coaching experience, Travis was interested in using his skills with Columbia Parks & Recreation.
Ca-Sandra Gunn, the staff coordinator for Douglass baseball shared, “Travis is a huge asset to Douglas baseball. He is always willing to lead clinics and is always trying to go the extra mile to help the players learn the basic skills of baseball. He has so much patience and is always willing to help!”
“Athletics and baseball especially have always been an escape from whatever life stress is currently troubling me. My participation at Douglass still does some of that for me, but more so, it’s the idea that I may be helping to provide a much-needed break for a child,” Travis said.
Travis, originally from Houston, Missouri, also keeps busy with his landscaping business, T & T Escapes. Thank you, Travis, for sharing time with the City of Columbia!
Linus Johnson is the Volunteer of the Month for September. Linus was a very active participant in the City’s Youth in Action program over the summer, completing twenty-two hours of service in the span of just two months. He is 14 years old and will be starting 9th grade at Hickman High School this fall. Although this was his first time volunteering with Youth in Action, he is not new to serving his community. Linus has completed projects through his school to better Columbia.
Linus’s favorite project is invasive species removal, and he was very disappointed when this event was cancelled earlier in the summer. However, he got his chance to wrangle thick and dense honeysuckle when the event was rescheduled. Halfway through the project, though, a storm rolled in and heavy rain soaked Linus and his fellow volunteers. While he was sad to have his favorite event cut short, it is sure to be an invasive species removal that he won’t soon forget.
Werthen Gass, the 2020 Youth in Action Intern, said, “Linus was a regular volunteer with Youth in Action and always showed up ready to serve. Although he is a man of few words, Linus’s dedication to Columbia and strong work ethic spoke volumes”. Thank you, Linus, for being an outstanding volunteer.
Kelly Mason believes that everyone has the ability to contribute to their community, “they just need to find something they are passionate about.“ Kelly is passionate about the environment and sustainability, and has shared these passions as a volunteer Recycling Ambassador. For her efforts, Kelly is recognized as our August Volunteer of the Month.
Kelly committed to make others aware of waste reduction techniques. In her role as a Recycling Ambassador, Kelly carved out her own niche educating elementary students about recycling. She provides the students with a “Recycling Starter Kit” including a certificate qualifying them to teach others. Kelly’s favorite thing about being a Recycling Ambassador is hearing from the students about who THEY are going to teach about recycling.
In her role as a rental property manager, Kelly shared her knowledge of recycling with other members of the Columbia Apartment Association so recycling efforts could improve at rental properties throughout the City.
Kelly believes that since the reward for recycling (saving the earth) and the repercussions for not (damaging the environment) aren’t immediate, it is hard for people understand the importance of their actions. Kelly hopes that by teaching a younger generation the why, what and how of recycling they will have the confidence to pass that knowledge onto others.
To Kelly, the greatest thing about volunteering helping your community, while being the best version of yourself. “If we all strived for that version, imagine what we could do.”
Lea Langdon is the July Volunteer of the Month. Lea has a passion for the environment and believes that all citizens have a responsibility to be good stewards of the earth. Lea began here service with the City of Columbia in 2015 as a Recycling Ambassador. Lea takes any opportunities that arise to promote waste reduction and proper recycling, but her real niche is with native landscapes education.
In 2017 Lea began passing her extensive knowledge of native landscapes to the public through the COMO Wild Yards Program. According to Community Conservationist, Danielle Fox, “Lea is an excellent gardening mentor because she gently teaches others about the natural systems that native plants create and how to best manage them in a garden setting.” It can be crushing to explain to someone that a beloved plant actually hurts the environment. Lea’s gentle nature breaks this news to people easily giving them time to process and understand how non-native plants cause damage to our native environments. Lea also serves through other organization such as the Wild Ones, MO Native Plant Society and CPS outdoor classrooms to educate the community about native landscaping.
Lea loves working with youth and has instilled a passion for gardening in many children whether that is through pulling weeds, planting natives, composting, or killing bush honeysuckle with them. The evidence of Lea’s passions and dedication can be found all around Columbia in many demonstration gardens, at public parks, school ground and residential homes.