Volunteer Spotlight: The Halling Family

by | Oct 26, 2021

“It’s wonderful to do something meaningful together that teaches our sons the importance of giving back…”

Tell us about your volunteer work in the park.

Our family (Parents Katie and Andrew, sons Max and Dylan) have been stewards for the small overlook park at Otto and Shepherd roads (part of the Sam Morgan trail) since 2015. We pick up trash, look after the trees, and check on how things are looking in general.

The overlook has a beautiful view of the river with benches and drinking fountains, so many folks who use the trail stop by, as well as neighbors out for a short stroll.

How did you get started?

We live in the West 7th neighborhood near the overlook. With the birth of our first son, we started to take walks to the trail back when there was no consistent sidewalk to get there. The city then put in huge improvements to create safe and easy access.

The park became especially meaningful after the sudden death of our infant daughter. Friends and family donated two Maple trees in her honor for the overlook, so now we check on them and spend time reflecting at this beautiful spot.

After the trees were planted, we were talking about how our family could give back to the space. I wasn’t aware of the park steward program then but found it on the city website and reached out. Park staff has always been so great. Tricia Wherle, the volunteer coordinator, is so nice and helpful.

Knowing that this spot is so special to your family, what else do you get out of serving as its stewards?

We love St Paul and the parks – I’m a life-long resident of the city. It’s wonderful to do something meaningful together that teaches our sons the importance of giving back and making a firm commitment to the community. We take great pride as a family in our work in the park.

What other parks or public spaces do your really enjoy?

With sons aged nine and five, we visit parks based on playgrounds. Our favorites include Edgecumbe, Linwood, and Harriet Island. We do love the events in the downtown parks like Music in Mears and Rice Park. We got married on Raspberry Island, so we’re clearly a park family!

Inspired? Volunteer in Saint Paul parks! From Wildlife Monitors to Park and Garden Stewards, there are ways to make a difference that connect you to nature.

Learn more And, if you know someone who would find meaning in a memorial tree, you can reserve one for Spring 2022 here.