Mission accomplished in the botanical garden


Mission accomplished in the botanical garden

A group of handy people chose the UPJŠ Botanical Garden as "their" location during the Steelmakers for Košice event. The fact that we met at the Mini Zoo operated by the botanical garden was no coincidence. The civic association BotaniKE received support for its revitalization from our grant program Together for the Region. So in the end of the day, we supported them financially, as well as by our work. On Saturday, the hands of steelmakers helped to start the process of restoring the Mini Zoo's facilities, which was much required after more than ten years of its operation.

During usual days, mainly families with children come to the aviaries. The main attractions are several dozens of colorful rabbits, several types of parrots and chickens. Today, however, there is a large group in bright green T - shirts: Kosmas Bekiaris, Marián Vranay, Branislav Klobošič, Peter Bílek, Tomáš Kolář, Peter Chytil, Katarína Kristiňáková and Eva Stanová. Scholars Viliam Kačmár and Jaroslav Vojaček also joined. Peter Bencko arrived with his son. There are other workers in the group who are equally important. It's been "boiling" at this site all morning. After disassembling the aviary casing, they sand the metal structures with sandpaper. They are also preparing a new mesh. Fortunately, parrots are safe inside their breeding facility, the workers of the botanical garden took care of that. Budgies have nested and laid eggs, they don't need fuss. The aviary frames are getting a new coat of paint – green, of course. Fortunately, it is not raining, but it has been very hot and stuffy since early morning. Light green T-shirts are slowly losing their brightness...

Above the aviary stands the gazebo - our base. Colleagues from the botanical garden paint it inside and out. The coating gets dry fairly quickly in this weather. Zuzana Ondrejčo with her daughter paint as well, later she also paints information boards. It's her first time here. What motivated her? "Meeting colleagues and being here, in the botanical garden, because I like it here. I have very few opportunities to come here, so I took the opportunity to get involved. And I brought my children, too." Her son - a student supported by aour scholarship programme, works at the aviaries.

Near the gazebo there is an enclosure for sheep and goats, which stay here in the off - season - in winter and spring. We don't see them in the paddock during the summer, their mission is to maintain the forest park by ecological grazing. The worn paddock needs restoration. Peter Mosný, Ján Hijj, Miloš Mitaľ, Adrian Širotník, Igor Hornák, Jaroslav Križičko and others are embarking on its liquidation. Ján Bača and Tomáš Kollár undertook the repair of the shed for goats and sheep.

And why did they come?
"I have always been close to nature, and the botanical garden allows me to spend time in the midst of greenery. I grew up near here and used to come here very often as a child and teenager. Now, in my own way, I can give something back to the botanical garden," reveals Ján Hijj.

Peter Mosný adds: "I was attracted by the pleasant environment of the botanical garden. I also wanted to meet my colleagues and share not only my work time, but also my private time, too."

Miloš Mitaľ says: "I came to this event to relax, leave my work duties behind and transfer my energy in a different way. I wanted to meet people I know, meet those I didn't know. I also used this opportunity to talk to Robert Gregorek, who gave me valuable advice about the banana and lemon trees I grow."

Colleagues hidden in the middle of the trees are painting cage wire mesh: Drahoslava Nagyová, Soňa Berková, Diana Mašľanová with her daughter, Stanislava Štekláčová, Barbara Kollárová and our scholarship recipient Zuzana Jakubčáková. Diana’s daughter Zuzana is another student supported by our scholarship programme and she also volunteered the day before during the Steelmakers‘ Drop of Blood.

Jana Radianská and her friend returned from their working point smiling and in a good mood. They helped with weeding. “I love weeding. For me it's relaxation. I come back here regularly, it's my favorite location during Volunteer Days."

The boys are still spreading gravel near the aviaries and installing the renovated rabbit gates. For a short moment, the entrance to the aviary remains without mesh... fortunately, we didn't have to chase the rabbits. Mrs. Gregoreková from the botanical garden offers us a homemade cookie and the volunteers change their wet T-shirts...

Robert Gregorek, deputy director of the UPJŠ Botanical Garden, summarized the job done: 
"Many thanks to the steelworkers for this beautiful day. The weather had mercy on us and gave us a chance to do some great work. We started the reconstruction of the Mini Zoo in a very serious way, we took care of the demolition of the old enclosure for the goats, which will open up space for us to start building a new fence and prepare for the return of sheep and goat to this part of the area by autumn. We have started the reconstruction of the roof above the breeding facility for goats, which is almost finished, only a few steps remain and it will be fully functional. Some colleagues helped with the distribution of gravel on intensively used areas, primarily related to the Mini Zoo, but also in other areas of the complex. Colleagues also helped us with weeding in the ornamental plant nursery and with painting wooden and metal structures, which is traditional here and which we really can't paint during normal operation. In addition to the fact that a lot of work has been done, the presence of colleagues from the steel mills helps us revive work enthusiasm and return to the stereotypical tasks that keep us busy here today, so it also induces the right working mood."

Photo gallery: Arpád Köteles, author

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