This year will be Faruk Ortabas fifth year volunteering at the Country Barbecue. In this photo, he is working on the Siegel-Kline Kill sledding hill
This year is CLC’s 21st Annual Country Barbecue – an event that celebrates rural culture and also serves as our annual fundraiser. One of the reasons this event has been so successful – drawing over 1,000 supporters – is the consistency of our volunteers.
In previous years, you may have had the pleasure of getting ice cream at the event. It’s great to enjoy a frozen dessert on a summer day. But, the real joy is engaging with our volunteers who hand out ice cream and popcorn. Volunteers also help with set up, clean up, and on-going logistics throughout the day.
Faruk Ortabas is one of these dedicated volunteers. Faruk and his wife Susan have volunteered at the past five Country Barbecues.
Popcorn machine at Country Barbecue
Volunteers at Ooms Conservation Area at Sutherland Pond
Columbia Land Conservancy is a perfect match. I truly love being outdoors… [and] I like physical work. People involved with Columbia Land Conservancy are kindred spirits. [Susan and I] became good friends with several people we met through Columbia Land Conservancy.
While Faruk is a regular volunteer at the Country Barbecue’s ice cream stand, he also volunteers with CLC throughout the year on a myriad of activities. He is a trail monitor at Siegel-Kline Kill Conservation Area and regularly walks the trails, clears the trail of debris, and reports any larger problems. With 10 Public Conservation Areas scattered throughout Columbia County, CLC relies on volunteers to assist with trail maintenance.
Faruk is active in CLC’s trail days, when volunteers assist with special projects, such as building the connector trail between Harrier Hill Park and Greenport Conservation Area, which will open later this year. He likes this type of volunteering because “I’m doing something and see the results right away.”
One of Faruk’s favorite volunteer experiences was clearing out water chestnuts at Ooms Conservation Area at Sutherland Pond. Water chestnuts are an invasive species that significantly alters aquatic ecosystems. Participants used canoes and kayaks to go out into the water and pull up the plant. “I was just gliding along over lily pads in bloom,” Faruk reminisces. “You’ve got frogs and dragonflies. It was really beautiful.”
Faruk’s love of spending time outdoors goes back to his childhood in Turkey. He grew up in Istanbul, a bustling city with millions of people. “My best memories as a child are when an adult took me to a park with a forest, fields, or a stream.”
Now, Faruk is working hard to ensure that other people get the opportunity to have those same experiences. He, along with his wife Susan, participate in the CLC Ambassador Program where they represent CLC at public events. When they talk to people, they emphasize CLC’s 10 Public Conservation Areas. “Take your kids, take your grandchildren. Go.”
Visiting a Public Conservation Area isn’t the only way to connect with nature. CLC hosts education events and outdoor opportunities throughout the year. The Country Barbecue is the highlight of these events. This year it will be held at the beautiful Rockefeller’s Clum and Patchen Farm, along with local food, educational activities, interesting animal demonstrations, and live entertainment. And, Faruk Ortabas will be serving the ice cream.