Tag Archives: nature

Resolve to Serve Stories: Weed Wrangle®

Cayce McAlister remembers how different the forest looked when she was young.

“You saw tree trunks. You didn’t see all this low-level scrub,” she says. “All that green scourge you see in the woods is invasive plants.”

cayce mcalister
Cayce McAlister

McAlister says that native plants and trees don’t stand a chance in areas that are overgrown with non-native species. Invasive plants reproduce and spread quickly, often out-competing native plants. This leads to a reduction in plant diversity and the loss of habitat and food for wildlife.

Now McAlister is on a mission. A former president and longtime member of the Garden Club of Nashville, she was instrumental in founding Weed Wrangle®, an annual event where volunteers gather in parks and public spaces to remove problematic plants. The annual pull puts a dent in the problem, but McAlister says that alone won’t solve the issue of invasive plant growth. There must be public education, too.

Each Weed Wrangle® site will have an official on hand to show the participants clippings of the pesky plants to target and tell them the best tactics for removal.

“Invasive plants have no borders, and the success of our effort is affected dramatically by landscaping practices of neighbors to all of these public areas,” she says. McAlister encourages attendees to take their new knowledge home and eradicate invasive species in their own yards. Then talk to the people next door about doing the same.

In 2015, its first year, Weed Wrangle® drew more than 500 volunteers to 13 sites across Nashville. McAlister says the event has grown quickly and now exists across multiple Tennessee markets and in 13 other states. Since its inception, Weed Wrangle® has engaged 3,164 volunteers in Tennessee, who have contributed a combined 27,528 volunteer hours.

This year’s event, slated for March 2, has 20 Middle Tennessee sites where volunteers will wrangle weeds. You don’t have to be a gardener to help, says McAlister, who, as the event’s National Chair, is a full-time volunteer and travels the country spreading the seed of an idea that first took root in Nashville.

“There is a job for everyone out there. Little kids can pick up debris and drag it to the pile. Big buff people, they’re all trying to yank everything out of the ground instead of using tools,” she says with a laugh. “It’s a fun day.”

You can join the fun by browsing Weed Wrangle® opportunities here.

Interested in signing up to host your own Weed Wrangle® site? Visit the Weed Wrangle® website or email Ampage158@gmail.com.

Photos courtesy of Weed Wrangle.


Nonprofit Partner Spotlight: Penuel Ridge

Do you ever find yourself yearning for a quiet place to retreat, reflect, meditate, and just be? If you’re like most of us, you’re likely sitting at a desk, checking and re-checking constant emails, tweets and texts, while trying to squeeze in a quick bathroom break before you crunch in one more client conversation. While you did take a break to “be creative,” the pyramid of empty coffee mugs on your desk just doesn’t cut it as a renewing activity anymore.

Lutheran Hands volunteers out helping weed and maintain the natural beauty at Penuel Ridge.

We have good news to share. On 135 acres of lovely rolling land in Ashland City – complete with a lake, meadows, woods, trails, and wildlife – is a special place called Penuel Ridge. This nonprofit retreat center has created a peaceful setting that offers the opportunity for people of all faiths, backgrounds, and income levels to have the space to focus on renewal and restoration. This spiritual retreat center focuses on fostering values of contemplation, silence, hospitality, rest, social justice and communion with nature; nurturing the journey inward to strengthen the journey outward. Rooted in the Christian and Jewish faiths, Penuel Ridge welcomes persons of all traditions.

Cindy, a recent Penuel Ridge visitor comments, “I came to Penuel Ridge seeking solitude and spiritual growth – I left with both goals met and the knowledge that this gem –this amazing place abounds with such positive energy and spiritual warmth.”

Cross Point Church Volunteers out helping mulch area around Penuel Ridge. Great team building. Thanks for lending your time and talents!

Penuel Ridge is able to offer restorative retreats to people like you, your brother, or even your friend over there in the gray cubical, all because of the volunteers who make it possible. Because Penuel Ridge has only one staff person, volunteers play a big role in helping to maintain the property, gardening, cooking, facilitating retreats for individuals experiencing homelessness, and more.

You can do your part to make Penuel Ridge a welcoming and restorative place for all. Here are ways to get involved with Penuel Ridge today:

Volunteer Coordinator
Penuel Ridge is seeking an organized volunteer willing to lend his/her time to manage volunteers and an enjoyment for the beauty of Penuel Ridge.
> Click here to read more and sign up.

Volunteer Librarian
Use your great organizing skills to help with the Penuel Ridge Library. Volunteers are needed to complete a bi-monthly of status of shelves and condition of books while also adding books to the inventory as they come in.
> Click here to read more and sign up.

Seasonal Bush-hogger
Help maintain the land by bush-hogging every two-three weeks April through October. Volunteers will use Penuel Ridge’s equipment and should be able to knowledgeably drive a tractor.
> Click here to read more and sign up.