They are precisely the type of volunteers that insure success. Lynn Kieper and Richard Peterson, both from Bismarck, recently completed another successful stint helping youngsters at the Conservation and Outdoor Skills Park at the North Dakota State Fair.
Kieper could be found walking the fishing pier where he would eagerly help bait hooks, offer advice to young fishermen and help unhook fish. His friendly demeanor and years of fishing experience were obvious to those he assisted, always helping with a kind word and a smile.
Peterson's role was a bit different. He kept busy teaching the skills of casting with a fishing rod and closed-face reel. His tutelage proved valuable to those youngsters aiming to place a cast on target.
Kim Fundingsland/MDN • Fellow volunteers Lynn Kieper, left, and Richard Petersen, both of Bismarck, helped man the Conservation and Outdoor Skills Park during the North Dakota State Fair.
"They've been around quite a while," said Nancy Boldt, North Dakota Game and Fish Department water safety coordinator who helped staff the Conservation Park and recognized the fine work done by the veteran volunteers. "They do a lot with our fish camps. They help out with just about anything we ask them to."
"They are working hard. They love it," added Skip Balzer, a fellow volunteer.
Kieper said he was introduced to fishing at age 3 or 4 when his grandmother used to tie him to a pillar during fishing trips to the shores of Lake Erie in New York. Kieper wasn't being held against his will, far from it, he was just being kept secure from falling into the water while his grandmother was fishing.
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"She got fishing into my blood. We'd go every night. I just love it," said Kieper.
Now the veteran volunteer does everything he can to help youngsters learn about fishing so they can appreciate it and enjoy it too.
"I love to see kids catch fish. That's what it's all about," said Kieper. "I have a grand-daughter who is physically challenged so that gives me a little more pleasure, or incentive, I guess."
The reality is, the pair of volunteers doesn't need a lot of incentive to give of their time. Particularly when it comes to fishing. They both enjoy the reward of seeing positive results.
"One day we had two girls that were 13 or 14 that caught their first fish. Seeing the smile on their face, the satisfaction of seeing their parents taking pictures with them. To me, it is the satisfaction of working with the kids," said Peterson.
"You can't describe the feeling when you see their eyes light up," remarked Kieper. "One moment we had four kids catch their first fish. One was a young lady in a wheelchair. I love it."
The pair of enthusiastic volunteers have been generous with their time for many years. Kieper was a former State Farm Insurance agent. Peterson retired as manager of the Bismarck Civic Center. Both have been working the Conservation Park at the State Fair for 10 years.
"Both Lynn and Dick are really long term guys here," said Greg Gullickson, NDG&F. "They definitely have their hearts in the right spot and make our job a lot easier."
The pair made visiting the Conservation Park easier for youngsters and parents alike. They were more than willing to greet visitors and provide some friendly advice. From the reaction of those who they helped, it was obvious to all that their generous assistance was greatly appreciated.
Volunteering is in their blood. Even while the tandem was helping out at the State Fair they were looking ahead to their next volunteer project.
"(In) August we've got the Bible camp in Devils Lake," said Petersen. "There's about 54 kids signed up now. I'm going to keep helping as long as I can go."
Kieper, 71, had similar thoughts, a revealing look at valued volunteers.