Jim Franczkowski

Four years ago (has it only been 4 years?) on a beautiful day in April, Jim and his wife, Bernadette, took a kayak trip with one of our naturalists.

We are grateful to that naturalist, because they knew a good volunteer when they saw one, and reeled Jim right on into the Estuary Center volunteer fold. For those who know Jim, it will not surprise you that he dove headlong into volunteering. In quick succession he completed education and boat training and shadowed field trips and boat trips so that he was fully prepared to serve as a field trip volunteer and a boat trip sweep. His favorite volunteer job combines working with kids and boats – he helps with every single travel summer camp we offer, as long as he is in town.

Jim is an active and strong man, but observant and thoughtful, too. He says every experience here provides him with memories or teaches him something about the natural world or human nature. In the realm of “some things never change”, he laughs about the two middle school boys who horsed around and tipped their boat, dumping themselves and a cell phone into the drink, and the first words out of the young man’s mouth were “my mother is gonna kill me!”

More recently, Jim has revealed talents with a chain saw and hammer, helping frequently with the Nature Discovery Area and the Owl Enclosure. He is also a loyal volunteer with the Marsh Phenology program, paddling the marsh a couple times each month April through November to track the life stages of target plant species. Outreach events are often manned by Jim and Bernadette, and they help with special events like the Wade In, as well. Not surprisingly, in 2018, after only three years of service to the Estuary Center, Jim was awarded Volunteer of the Year.