“I was not a particularly outdoorsy kid,” said David Gorsline as he reflected on his childhood living in Ohio. “My appreciation for nature grew gradually as an adult, after I moved to the metro D.C. area in 1980.”
Gorsline says a chance encounter with a bird-watching couple along the Huntley Meadows Park boardwalk first sparked his interest in birds in the late 1980s, and as he learned more about nature, he developed a passion for the outdoors. These days the software engineer devotes 50 volunteer hours annually to help with conservation efforts at Huntley Meadows Park.
“I’m on a volunteer team that helps monitor nest boxes,” he said. “We clean out the boxes and remove rubbish from the year before, lay down fresh wood chips, then monitor the nest boxes during breeding season. We count the eggs and once they’re hatched, we count what’s left, record the data and repeat the cycle.”
The work is important because the bird boxes mimic tree cavities that are in short supply in urban areas. They provide shelter for cavity-dwelling birds, and cleaning the boxes removes parasites, mites and ticks that could threaten their health.
As Gorsline became more involved with park volunteer efforts, he started to think of other ways he could make a difference. The wetland oasis has become a favorite destination of his for outdoor recreation for the past 25 years, and he recognized that funding for stewardship education is sometimes in short supply. So Gorsline decided to leave a bequest to the Fairfax County Park Foundation in his will to benefit Huntley Meadows Park.
“I have tried to allocate funds in my will for homeless populations, schools and universities and other things that I think are important,” he said thoughtfully. “Funding for things like park internships for new students is always a challenge, and so are general resources for full-time staff,” he said.
Gorsline hopes his gift will help plant a legacy of conservation and learning at Huntley Meadows Park for generations to come.