“We took a tour of the facility, which was offered to the public. Obviously, we were quite impressed with such a place so close to home.”
Pete Wiedemann has been a volunteer at IslandWood for the past 18 years and has shared over 5,000 hours of work. A talented woodworker, Pete has made most of the signs and many of the of the wooden structures on our Bainbridge campus. Check out our conversation with Pete to learn more about his involvement with, and dedication to, IslandWood over the years.
How did you first get to know IslandWood?
My wife Patti and I built a home on Bainbridge Island and moved here in 2003. I soon learned that IslandWood, a new environmental educational facility, had recently been established on a large piece of property not far from our home.
We took a tour of the facility, which was offered to the public. Obviously, we were quite impressed with such a place so close to home.
Why do you volunteer your time to IslandWood?
The docent who led our tour was a retired engineer, like me. Since I had recently retired and I don’t golf, I subsequently decided that being a docent was something I might like to do. I contacted IslandWood expressing my interest and was informed that I would need to attend a class on docent training, which wouldn’t be held for several months. The Volunteer Coordinator could sense I was disappointed in the delay and indicated that the Facilities Coordinator was looking for a volunteer with my background.
That was 18 years ago. I’ve been working exclusively with the Facilities Team since then.
What are the things you’ve made on campus, and can you explain a bit about them?
Initially, I got started working on trail and building signs. I repaired and maintained existing signs and eventually built more and more new signs as the campus grew.
In addition, over the years I’ve done numerous special construction projects. I especially enjoy them for the mental challenges they have provided. The largest and most complex project I’ve done was the Bumble Bee Classroom in the main campus garden. It was completed about three years ago.
Other significant projects have included an observation platform for the EarthFlow composting facility next to the Garden and nine large wooden compost bins located around Campus.
What are your favorite IslandWood memories?
The most interesting sign I built was the vertical “welcome” sign at the main entrance to the Garden. The sign presented the word “welcome” in 15 different languages representing the native tongues of students that have participated in the Student Overnight Program over the years. In the administrative office, I’m usually referred to as the “sign guy”.
I’m thoroughly enjoying my time at IslandWood. There’s been very little paid-staff turnover in our group. Three of the current six have been here longer than I have, so I’ve developed a number of personal friendships. I joke with the staff that I’m more than adequately compensated for my time, getting all the free coffee that I want!
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
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