By Jenny Neyman
An event Friday at the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge Visitors Center had all the hallmarks of a dating service.
There were introductions, telling stories, sharing laughter, giving a sense of priorities and areas of importance, discovering common interests and exchanging scheduling information, all to see if there was enough basis for a continued relationship.
“What we like to do is pair people with what sounds good to them, what kind of experience they want and just kind of get to know them and figure out where they’re going to fit,” said Matt Conner, chief of visitor services at the refuge.
Everyone involved seemed to be hitting it off and there was definitely mutual attraction. Not between refuge staff and the prospective volunteers who came to the orientation event to find out more about opportunities to help out at the refuge, but between everyone involved and the refuge itself.
“We love trail hiking, four-wheeling, snowmobiling, hunting, fishing, camping — anything that gets us outside and involved with wildlife and being able to enjoy that. And being out here next to the conservation, it’s really important to learn how it affects the natural resources and learning all these types of things, and protecting it for future kids, basically,” said Lisa Luna, who attended the event with her husband, Eric.
They’re new to the area, having come to work at the Kenai River Raven Lodge down Ski Hill Road from refuge headquarters. They want to get better integrated into their new community, and they’ve got the time to do it in the lodge’s winter offseason.
“We were new to the community so we wanted to get involved as much as we can, meet people, and also, getting involved in the community with other events. Because it is a small town, there’s not too much going on. You can’t be outdoors every day,” Eric said.