Robie Waterworth volunteers at John Chesnut Park in Palm Harbor, bringing the pleasure of flowers and butterflies to park visitors.
PALM HARBOR – John Chesnut Park in Palm Harbor is home to numerous wildlife including deer, alligators, raccoons and waterfowl.
The Pinellas County park, which borders Lake Tarpon, also features an elevated boardwalk, three nature trails, several picnic shelters, playgrounds and a softball field.
Nestled in the park’s 255 acres along side a large pond is a peaceful and tranquil butterfly garden.
There you will often find Roberta “Robie” Waterworth, a Volunteer In Pinellas for Chesnut Park who devotes countless hours to the garden. Waterworth, who has been volunteering at the park for about two years, grew up around plants, her father and grandmother having been avid gardeners. So it was only natural that she too would have a green thumb.
The garden features a kaleidoscope of color as the numerous plants attract a wide variety of butterflies. Waterworth calls the garden a “beautiful spot … This is where I belong, in the park growing plants.”
She not only enjoys planting and maintaining the garden but also talking to park visitors who want to know more about the garden’s plants and butterflies and how they can start one of their own.
Originally from the New England area, Waterworth keeps busy. In addition to being a volunteer at Chesnut Park, she works full time as an independent contractor generating leads and setting up appointments for clients of a Texas-based company.
Waterworth also makes and sells chemical-free soy candles and is involved with Suncoast Co-Op in New Port Richey, where she lives. There she sells butterfly plants to other growers and educates people on the benefits to the ecology of not only having a butterfly garden, but being sensitive to the environment by making and using chemical-free products whenever possible.
“The staff at the park are incredible,” she said, noting that everyone, including the park’s lead volunteer Claire Geheb, has been very supportive of the garden and helps her in anyway they can. Geheb believes Waterworth, who is affectionately known as the “butterfly keeper” has a “special connection with the garden” and is among a group of about 15 volunteers that help maintain the park.
Pinellas County Volunteer Parks Coordinator Jonathan Skinner says she is “very dedicated, has a love of the outdoors and has developed a real interest and passion in native Florida butterfly attracting plants.
“She has worked well with the county in implementing and renovating the existing butterfly garden that was in serious need of some love and support,” said Skinner.
The certified butterfly sanctuary, started several years ago, is an unfunded project. Waterworth is always looking for donations and encourages others who may have extra native butterfly attracting plants to see her.
She also encourages others who may be thinking of volunteering, no matter for whom or for what project to do so. The enjoyment one gets from volunteering is often a reward in itself.
Pinellas County volunteers can expect to make a difference in the life of their community, while exploring interests, sharing knowledge, assisting others and making friends.