A review from the volunteer and filmmaker Rebecca
I met some VIPs (Volunteers in Parks) today, and like most volunteer opportunities, I found out how easy it would be for me- or anyone!- to dive into an experience of a lifetime.
Did you know that in 2005, 137,000 volunteers donated 5.2 million hours to US national parks?
The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
I had the pleasure of meeting Liz at the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore historic lifesaving boathouse today. She was helping me and other park-goers better understand the past and present of life on the dunes, and when the other visitors moved along, I asked why Liz chose to volunteer with our National Park Service and why Sleeping Bear Dunes. Liz told me that she is semi-retired and needed a refreshing experience; Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore offers her the ability to learn blacksmithing during her free hours. Liz trades a set number of hours per week providing interpretive services in exchange for a free campsite, the opportunity to enrich others’ experiences, and a neat item on a resume.
Liz sent us to the historical blacksmithing shop in Glen Arbor, where three volunteers had enchanted benches full of adolescents, parents, and seniors with their glowing metal and spirited explanations. It was one of the volunteers’ last days- after 20 years of service!- and it warmed my heart to see the legacy that he leaves in his well-trained colleagues and organized shop.
The volunteer coordinator at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore happened to be at the blacksmith’s shop, so of course, I had a long, enjoyable chat with him. He said that there are around 400 volunteer opportunities at Sleeping Bear Dunes alone!
The volunteer duties are wide-ranging and positions can be filled for 2-3 months at a time. Andrew and I left feeling certain that we’d be back to lend a hand at this gorgeous, history-rich national park.
Become a VIP – volunteer in parks
Whether you’re a
- college student with an empty summer, someone who wants to (or finds that you need to) take a few months off between jobs,
- or a retiree who wants some adventure,
jump on volunteer.gov/gov and consider this volunteer opportunity.
By giving to your parks system and its visitors, you’ll surely give yourself an unforgettable experience.
More volunteering opportunities in the United States