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Circulate San Diego works with some great volunteers and interns throughout the year to create excellent mobility choices and vibrant, healthy neighborhoods in San Diego.

Meet Jim Varnell, one of our awesome volunteers on loan to us from the San Diego Natural History Museum. Jim, volunteers his time as a canyoneer and has been working on the Safe Routes to Nature Project in Otay, which brings students on walks to the Otay Valley Regional Park for an afternoon of safe educational exploration. 


How did you first hear about Circulate San Diego?

The Director of Volunteer/Intern Services at the San Diego Natural History Museum (theNat), Janet Morris, asked me if the Canyoneers might be interested in helping with a new program called Safe Routes to Nature. After hearing about it I knew it was a great program and a terrific fit for Canyoneers.

What program do you work with? What is your role? And what is your favorite memory from volunteering with this program?

I am a volunteer with the San Diego Natural History Museum (theNat) and part of their Canyoneer program. The Canyoneers are trained by the Museum to lead free nature hikes in all areas of San Diego County and to help people become more familiar with this amazing place we call home. My favorite memories are always the fascinating people that I get to meet on our hikes.

Why do you volunteer with Circulate San Diego?

It's all about the kids. It seems these days youngsters just don't have the same opportunities to get out into nature that I did when I was young. This is my way of helping them get connected with nature in a safe and fun way. 

If you could describe CSD to someone who has never heard of them, how would you go about this?

CSD is focused on improving the way San Diegans get from here to there by either finding or helping to make safe ways to walk or bike in our neighborhoods.

Where is your favorite place to walk in San Diego?

After becoming a Canyoneer I've come to realize that our urban canyons are really something special and help set us apart for other large urban areas. Tecolote Canyon and Ruffin Canyon are 2 of my favorites.

Is there anything else you have not been asked about that you would like to share? 

As a society we need to be sure we stay connected with nature. If people don't know the value of this amazing county then they have no reason to be protective of it. I hope that through programs like CSD and the Canyoneers we can encourage people to be stewards for our environment and want to pass it on to future generations.

Thank you to Jim for sharing with us a little bit about his work with us!

Safe Routes to Nature is a program of Circulate San Diego funded by the San Diego Foundation and supported by The Natural History Canyoneers Program, Chula Vista School District, Stretch YMCA, and the County of San Diego Department of Parks and Recreation.