We caught up with Jane Shay, long time volunteer with the Siuslaw National Forest at the Cape Perpetua Visitor Center.
1. Tell me how you first got involved with Siuslaw National Forest – Cape Perpetua Visitor Center?
Many years ago, my husband Michael and I camped in the Cape Perpetua campground and fell in love with it. That led to our eventually buying property north of Yachats and building a little vacation house on it. Our children grew up making an (almost) annual pilgrimage back to see “Grandfather Tree” – the Giant Spruce. One day, as we approached retirement and an eventual move over here, we went into the Visitor Center and inadvertently found out that the people in uniforms were volunteers! They said I would make a perfect one since I knew the area and trails so well. It sounded like a perfect fit for me and I have had a great time doing it.
2. What is the coolest thing you get to do as a volunteer?
One of my favorite aspects of the job is that I am constantly learning new things. A person will come in with a picture of a flower or specimen on the beach and together, using books and the iPad we will figure out what it is. The other day I learned the name of the coral mushroom. It’s a perfect name since it looks just like coral. I had never noticed it before.
3. Tell me about some of the people you’ve met while volunteering?
I enjoy talking to people and finding out about their travels. We get a lot of people from Europe, especially Germany, and when there’s time I like to hear about their itineraries. A couple times I have met families that choose to live in a motor home and educate their children through travel. They spent lots of time in the Visitor Center having the kids go through the Junior Ranger booklet. Often a couple young people are on a low budget adventure and want to know a cheap place to stay or where to camp in the forest or get a shower. They are fun to talk to!
Sometimes we have a miscommunication. One day, I thought a lady was asking about the blackberries around here. I told her how they attacked me and slashed my arms when I was pulling weeds, and how my husband got a flat tire on our lawn tractor by driving over one. Her eyes got huge, and then it became clear she was asking about black BEARS in the area! I thought it was pretty funny. She didn’t laugh as much!
4. What do you wish other people knew about Siuslaw National Forest – Cape Perpetua?
One of the things I try to stress to people when they come in for advice about what to do, is that they shouldn’t just focus on the ocean. We are by a temperate rain forest that gets up to 80 inches of rain a year. It isn’t like the forests most other places. They need to walk back there and check it out. There’s more to Cape Perpetua than just Thor’s Well!
5. When you are not volunteering, what do you like to do?
When I’m not at the Cape I’m frequently at the Yachats Public Library, where I’m about to become the volunteer children’s librarian. I have volunteered there for years, and my husband and I do the story times already, so now I will take over the other duties. I won’t let them interfere with my Cape Perpetua time, though!
6. What might (someone) be surprised to know about you? Anything else you would like to share?
My husband and I also like to go on trips in our truck camper. Last year we drove up to Alaska. Next month, we will take a trip down to southeastern Utah and meet some friends for hiking in what was (briefly!) Bears Ears National Monument to see ruins and rock art. It is an area we have visited many times.