In 2018, GBI became the interpretive association for Taylor Creek Visitor Center, located on the south shore of Lake Tahoe. The visitor center is home to the Lake of the Sky Amphitheater and Steam Profile Chamber, and also offers a variety of interpretive materials and programs. It is estimated that about 150,000 people visited the center during the 2019 operating season. The visitor center’s success, however, would not be possible without the help of our volunteers, who bring great enthusiasm and dedication to their interactions with the public. Among those volunteers are Rockey and Lorrie Fennema, who graciously agreed to answer a few questions about their experiences at the visitor center.
Why do you volunteer at Taylor Creek?
Lorrie: Initially in 2018 we were looking for a volunteer position that was close to our grandkids who live about an hour away from Lake Tahoe. Taylor Creek fit the bill perfectly! We had so much fun that first season we returned in 2019 and are anxiously awaiting to return again this year. We love all the aspects of the job and who could not love living at Lake Tahoe. When we arrive at Taylor Creek each season it feels like we are coming home.
Rockey: Lake Tahoe has always been a very special place for us. Our oldest son was born here while I was a Park Ranger at Lake Tahoe-Nevada State Park (Sand Harbor) so Tahoe always brings back fond memories to us. Taylor Creek allows us to spend the season at one of the most beautiful places in the US and within an hour of our grandsons!
What do you like best about Taylor Creek?
Lorrie: I like that every day is different. One minute you may be leading a Ranger walk and the next you may be working on a resource management project in the creek. Additionally, every day I meet people from all over the world and can share with them ways to explore Lake Tahoe.
Rockey: We have been “full timing” in our RV and volunteering all across the US for the last seven years. The positions at Taylor Creek are by far the funnest positions we have had. They resemble old school Ranger positions where you are a jack of all trades and master of none, where interpretation, resource management, fee collection, maintenance and general administration all fall on to your plate. And the staff is fantastic and truly functions as a team.
What is your favorite memory/story related to serving at Taylor Creek?
Lorrie: My favorite memory is leading a group of special needs students on a guided walk on the Rainbow Trail. These students had a wide spectrum of disabilities and I was able to incorporate their different senses so that they could grasp a sense of nature despite their limitations. It truly gave me a sense of satisfaction touching a special population this way.
Rockey: One of the most memorable moments at Taylor Creek was during the 2018 Fall Fish Festival. A mother bear and her two cubs descended upon the festival and proceeded to feast on participant’s and visitor’s lunches. One cub jumped into the back of a pickup truck in the parking lot that contained the owner’s back packs. The cub proceed to tear into the back packs and despite all our efforts to encourage it to move on it failed to budge. I had to crawl into the driver’s seat via the passenger door and start the truck to get it to move on.