It is difficult to single out just one volunteer each year to spotlight; this year the honor falls on Lee Phillion! As her career in corporate communications was drawing to a close, Lee – a volunteer since 2013 – began looking for opportunities to learn about nature, volunteer in nature, and meet new people who care about the natural world. As both a Missouri Master Naturalist and a Missouri Master Gardener, she has ample opportunity to accomplish her goals.
“Most likely it was a potting day that got me started volunteering at Forest ReLeaf,” said Lee. “I took the TreeKeepers class early on, and that really piqued my interest. What a great class. But what keeps me coming back ever week,” said Lee, “is how much volunteers are valued and respected, the variety of tasks available to us, the mission we are pursuing as a team… and the ‘team’ itself. I’m now friends with a whole group of smart, fun loving, talented people who share my interest in trees. And we are led by the best management team I have ever encountered.”
Her favorite nursery activity? “Weeding. I find pulling purslane particularly pleasurable,” said Lee. When not pulling purslane, pruning pines or potting pecans, Lee periodically produces photo presentations about progress at the nursery.
In her spare time, this mother of three, grandmother of two and wife of one likes to break out her guitar, harmonica or banjo, and as she says, “…make music nobody hears but me.” “My band, The Geritones-a folk, bluegrass, gospel group-broke up last year when our lead guitar player moved to Arizona,” said Lee. “Wish I could say it was creative differences, but it was just old age. Somebody would say, ‘pick up the tempo’ and we’d laugh.”