Since 1983, Liz Dally and her husband have helped many vehicles throughout Southeast Portland run smoothly as co-owner of Hawthorne Auto Clinic. As a way to cope with the stress of the job, she began volunteering at Metro’s Native Plant Center in Tualatin three years ago.
Q. What made you decide to volunteer at the Native Plant Center?
A. In my work, I spend a lot of time dealing with people, and this is very relaxing, just to come here and work with the plants. You get to know people, and you get to have nice casual conversations, but there’s no pressure. It’s very relaxing for me to come and do this work as kind of my plant therapy. I like to say that Mother Nature is my best friend.
Q. What is the best part about volunteering?
A. I’m happy when I’m here. I like working with plants, and I like working with the people who are here. I like observing all the different kinds of plants that grow in this area. I’m a bit of a plant nerd. I haven’t formally done any study of plants since two years of biology in high school, but I have a lot of books and in an amateur kind of way, I try to identify what is that I’m stepping on or walking through.
Q. What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned or come across while volunteering?
A. Last fall we did a lot of harvesting of camas bulbs. Camas used to be a foodsource for Native people in this area. Some of those camas bulbs were really big. They were really huge. Just seeing the results of the effort that had over the years begun here, seeing that kind of thing, was exciting to me.
Q. Why do you think it’s important for people to be around nature?
A. In some form or another, nature is always around us – even in downtown Portland. People forget about that and forget about their connection to the natural world and its effect. Usually they don’t remember that until something bad happens, like a major storm or planning for a big earthquake. But the health benefits of working with plants have been proven and I think you can become amore relaxed person, a healthier person – even calmer.
Learn more about volunteer opportunities at Metro’s Native Plant Center