Volunteer Stories – Caring About Cranes and People

Karen and Robert at the International Crane Foundation. Far right: Karen at Muraviovka Park in Far Eastern Russia.

Karen Mesmer and Robert Rolley are dedicated volunteers at the International Crane Foundation. Karen, a former science teacher in the Baraboo area, began volunteering over 30 years ago. She was drawn to the International Crane Foundation because of our focus on cranes and local communities. She first brought students in her school science club to collect prairie seeds at our headquarters.

In 1996, Karen joined a group of teachers from Wisconsin that traveled to an environmental camp at Muraviovka Park in Far Eastern Russia. She spent three weeks doing activities with kids at the camp to show them how important the local marshes were to the cranes. She also worked with the teachers, so they could continue to educate the students to respect and take care of the land. Karen has also helped the Conservation Education Department to align education activities with new science standards and has served for 16 years on the foundation’s Animal Care and Use Committee to evaluate research proposals.

Karen met Robert, a former wildlife biologist for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, at a canoe and kayaking club in Madison, Wisconsin. They have been married now for 12 years. The couple joined a trip to Bhutan with George Archibald, who directed Robert to Andy Gossens, Sandhill Crane Project Manager, after he expressed interest in the prescribed burns on our restored prairies. Robert has now volunteered with the prescribed burns and tree removal on our prairies for about four years. Robert and Karen have also helped with annual fall Sandhill Crane roost surveys. They enjoy the community of people at the foundation and being a part of an international organization.

Are you interested in volunteering with the International Crane Foundation? Click here to fill out our Volunteer Application. Our staff will review your application and contact you to discuss which opportunities best fit your experience and interests.

Questions? Please contact Education Program Coordinator Ben Lam at 608-356-9462 ext. 108.