Monday, March 17, 2008

Mount Rainier's volunteer program nominated for a George B. Hartzog Jr. Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service

Mount Rainier's volunteer program--that means you, folks!--was nominated today for a George B. Hartzog Jr. Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service. The award is named after a former NPS Director, who established the Volunteers-in-Parks program back in the 70s and promoted volunteerism in the parks throughout his career.

Every year, the National Park Service presents three such awards: one to an individual; one to a group; and one to a volunteer program. Past awards have recognized individuals, groups, and programs throughout the Service. Winners in our region have included Golden Gate National Recreation Area and the Crater Lake Ski Patrol. Mount Rainier has submitted several strong nominations over the years, including Clay and Dixie Gatchel (who did not win the Hartzog Award, but went on to win the national Take Pride in America Award for their years of service); Clyde and Lois Ambacher; and the Japan Volunteers-in-Parks Association.

Mount Rainier, of course, has always had a strong volunteer program. But this past year, we outdid ourselves (by which I mean, you outdid yourselves). The flood response last year raised our program from the level of "strong" to one of the best in the nation. That's my own opinion, of course. Now we'll see what a national committee of nomination reviewers thinks!

Some exerpts from our nomination:

"The public response and the successful flood recovery volunteer program is one of my career highlights. We truly engaged our public and through a very positive program, created thousands of new citizen stewards." - Superintendent Dave Uberuaga

"These partnerships [with SCA and the NW Storm Recovery Coalition] will continue, and with their help, and the help of existing park volunteers, the lasting legacy of the 2006 flood will not be devastated roads and trails, but a renaissance of public partnership in support of park stewardship." - Volunteer Program Manager Kevin Bacher

"Not only does senior management at Mount Rainier recognize volunteers as the true resource they are, but they recognize an even more important element to the equation. The foundation of Mount Rainier’s VIP program is not to just get work done that might not other wise be possible, it is also very deliberatively engaging the public to take ownership of their park."

"I am often asked by people why I choose to volunteer. One simply needs to experience ths subalpine meadows in the summer and see the grandeur of the environment; the explosion of color, the richness of the smells, hear the marmots whistling your approach, watch the variety of birds above and below you, hear the distant rumble of the glaciers as they groan, see the lines of climbers that seem like insignificant 'spots' on the snow heading toward Camp Muir and simply see the slopes of Mount Rainier towering above and you find the answer. As one experiences the treasure of Mount Rainier, you understand the need to protect and conserve this resource for the future and it is truly an honor as a volunteer to be able to participate in a small way in this effort." - Meadow Rover volunteer John Walsh

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