Wednesday, April 30, 2008

New news and previews of coming events

April and May are always busy months for our volunteer program. I'm getting at least half a dozen calls and e-mails per day from people with questions about volunteering, and we're busy planning projects and training for the coming season. Here's where we stand:

New Volunteers: I've received dozens of calls and e-mails in the past two weeks while I've been traveling from people interested in joining our volunteer program. Thank you all for your interest! I'm a bit overwhelmed at the moment getting caught up from being away, but responding to your inquiries is high on my priority list. Please be patient, I intend to respond to each of you, hopefully within the next week. This is a good place to remind you, too, that I would be extremely grateful for some help keeping up with the start-of-season flood of paperwork and correspondence related to new volunteers. Some of it (the correspondence especially) could even be done remotely. If you'd like to help, send me an e-mail.

Projects: Meanwhile, we're making progress on a project calendar for the summer. My partner on the SCA side, Jill Baum, will be sending me a list of upcoming projects, which I will post here on this blog. We have few specific dates yet, but hope to have them soon. Most of the work will begin in mid June, with a few earlier projects; you can, for sure, set aside June 7, which is National Trails Day and will have a bunch of projects scheduled.

Training: We're also closing in on a training schedule. I have a tentative schedule, at least, for our beginning-of-season interpretation training, our volunteer program management training, and our Conservation Corps training. Volunteers are welcome to participate in any or all of that. I'll post those tentative calendars later today or tomorrow, so stay tuned and watch for it in a later blog entry.

Surveys: Don't worry, I haven't forgotten to get back to you with the results of the volunteer survey. It has been such a gold mine of information that it's taken some time to compile. I'm about halfway through preparing a PowerPoint/PDF summary of the key insights we've gleaned from the survey, and will share that with you, along with the raw data, as soon as I get it finished.

Representing Mount Rainier: As we announced recently, Mount Rainier National Park has received the George B. Hartzog Jr. Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service. Superintendent Dave Uberuaga and I will be traveling back to Washington D.C. next week with volunteers Eva Meassick and George Coulbourn to receive the award on behalf of our volunteer program. Thank you to Eva and George for agreeing to represent us at this prestigious event! It will be a luncheon ceremony at noon on May 8th, attended by the Director of the National Park Service.

Eva and George are both patrol rangers in the Carbon River/Sunrise areas of the park. Both have been volunteering for years and have received our Superintendent's Award for Lifetime Achievement. Eva has passed the 10,000 hour mark for volunteer service since 1987, while George is closing in on 5,000 hours since 1997.

More from the EarthVision Summit: The EarthVision Summit I attended last week, sponsored by the Student Conservation Association near Washington D.C., was incredibly energizing. More than 400 youth attended, and their commitment to service on behalf of the environment was inspiring. I'm still sorting through my own pictures, but meanwhile, if you're interested, you can find loads of images, videos, and stories at SCA's Conservation Nation blog.

In the News: Also out there in cyberspace: The Washington Trails Association now has a YouTube page; spring opening is a struggle at Olympic National Park (no surprise, since we're dealing with lots of lingering snow issues ourself); and Mike Gauthier has posted a "year in review" summary for the Mount Rainier climbing program. I hear also through the grapevine that a citizen climber on our mountain will be receiving a Valor Award next week for help in saving the lives of a couple of other climbers. I'll try to get more details on this and share it with you. Meanwhile, Mount Rainier is one of many national parks nationwide that will receive Centennial Initiative funding to help improve the park; the park is still accepting input from the public about proposed repairs to the Wonderland Trail near Carbon River; and a news website in Massachusetts (!) listed WTA-led volunteer projects at Mount Rainier as one of six examples of Earth Day activities nationwide.

That's all for now; I'll get those training calendars, project lists, and survey summaries posted as soon as I receive them.

Native Plant Society presentation on May 1st

From volunteer Jan Bird:

For those of you in the Seattle area, the Washington Native Plant Society will have Mark Turner, photographer and co-arthor of Wildflowers of the Pacific NW give a presentation this Thursday, May 1 at 7:30 at the Center for Urban Horticulture at UW. He will be talking and showing his photos of wildflowers of the Pacific NW National Parks. For more information, check out the WNPS web page.

Reminder: Volunteer Brunch coming up May 10

From volunteer Martha Scoville:
Join Us to Learn More about Volunteering at Mt Rainier National Park!*
*Recipient of the 2008 George B. Hartzog Jr. Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service

Already a Volunteer in Parks (VIP)? Come share your stories - and spend time with volunteer friends.

Potluck Brunch Saturday, May 10, 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.
How about volunteering at Mt. Rainier National Park? Come help Sunrise VIPs kick off the 2008 Meadow Roving season and find out what makes a Rover a Rover. Opportunities at the Park abound - check out the volunteer opportunities listed on the Park website. It's a terrific "job!" If you have just a couple of days a month (weekends or weekdays) there is something for you to do at MRNP. If you've done all the trail maintenance and rebuilding that your body can handle, meadow roving might be just the ticket to get you out and let you give something back to the Park.

Menu: Bring something yummy to share for brunch. We'll plan to start serving food at 9:30 a.m.. Doors will be open by 8:00 a.m. if you want to come early to slip your treat into the oven to heat it up.

Coffee, tea, juice, tableware will be provided.

Location: the Tacoma Mountaineers clubhouse, 2302 N. 30th Street, Tacoma, WA 98403.

Please RSVP (we wouldn't want to run out of forks): Martha Scoville,

Hosted by the Tacoma Branch Hiking & Backpacking Committee and the Mt. Rainier Sunrise Volunteers In the Park.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Boeing workers' generosity strengthens communities

From The News Tribune:

Boeing employees build a lot more than airplanes. They also help build the communities where they live and work....

Employees’ contributions to their communities extend beyond the financial. They also donate personal time, volunteering on such projects as storm-recovery efforts at Mount Rainier National Park, coaching sports teams, building wheelchair ramps and serving as youth mentors.

Some of our most dedicated volunteers at Mount Rainier are Boeing employees. In addition, Boeing recently contributed $93,000 to the Student Conservation Association, National Parks Conservation Association, and Washington Trails Association to support volunteer projects at Mount Rainier. We are deeply grateful for their support!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

How to get involved

The Seattle Times had a really nice editorial today about our volunteer program and the awards we and our volunteers have received recently. Here's the lowdown on how you can help:

  • Check out the list of current volunteer opportunities in the right-hand column. Most of these are long-term or recurring volunteer projects.

  • Watch our calendar of volunteer projects on the website of our partner, the Student Conservation Association. These are mostly short-term (one to five day) projects. Nothing is posted yet, and not much is going on right now because of an abundance of spring snow, but we'll start posting projects within the next month. You can also follow all of our volunteer program activities on our master calendar in the right-hand column of this page.

  • If you'd like to get on our mailing list, just send me an e-mail. I hope to get our our first newsletter of the season within the next week or two, and after that, I'll be sending out regular updates as projects and training opportunities are announced. You can also watch for news on this blog, of course.

  • Volunteer with our (award-winning) partners! The Washington Trails Association is already listing trails projects that you can sign up for, for instance; and Olympic National Park, with more low-elevation terrain, has projects underway. In addition, you can get involved through the National Parks Conservation Association, Washington's National Park Fund, or The Mountaineers.
See you soon out on the trails!

Loads of news from all over

Lots of cool things to catch you up on today. First, check out this awesome picture taken today by volunteer Eva Meassick, on patrol with Uwe Nehring at Chinook Pass. Yes, that's the entrance arch at the pass, completely buried by the snow!! Latest word is that DOT has plowed to about a mile and a half from Cayuse Pass.

Next, in the news: Here's the Department of the Interior's press release about our Cooperative Conservation Award; the Adventure Guys at The News Tribune report on "Another Award for Mount Rainier"; American Rivers borrows one of our flood damage photos for their advocacy efforts; and the Seattle Times had a great article recently about EarthCorps and their volunteer efforts, including work at Mount Rainier, titled "Local Agency, Global Reach".

Here's a memo from Mary Bomar, Director of the National Park Service, about National Park Week, April 19-27:

National Park Week is also a time to pause and thank all those who help protect our special places and provide outstanding visitor experiences to all. That certainly includes the men and women of the National Park Service; but it also includes the volunteers, concessioners, cooperating associations, friends groups and partners who work with us daily. Together, we can engage Americans with their parks—to visit them, to support them and to ensure they remained unimpaired for the future generations. Thank you for all you are doing for National Park Week and for what you do every day. You’re the best! Happy National Park Week!

Finally, a quick update on my adventures in Washington D.C. Superintendent Dave Uberuaga and I spent Tuesday and Wednesday participating in the Cooperative Conservation Workshop, sharing ideas with other winners of the Cooperative Conservation Award. There are a lot of good programs out there, and I think we learned a lot from each other. Today we both moved on to the Student Conservation Association's EarthVision Workshop, so I'm blogging from a dorm room at the 4-H Conference Center in Chevy Chase, Maryland, surrounded by literally hundreds of high school and college age kids (and some old guys like me too) who are fired up about service for public lands. I attended one session this evening, but the main events begin tomorrow, with a welcome from the Secretary of the Interior and a set of service projects around the Capitol.

In between, Dave and I attended the rollout of the Park Service's Centennial Initiative on the steps of the Capitol Building. The ubiquitous Secretary Kempthorne was there, along with Director Mary Bomar, several Congressmen including Norm Dicks, representatives of several major partnerships, lots of park rangers, a bunch of very hot kids representing the Class of 2016 (NPS's centennial year), and even Ben Franklin! We also walked around the Capitol dropping off framed copies of our Mount Rainier Recovery poster to both of our Senators, our to Congressman (Dave Reichert), and to Congressman Norm Dicks, who has been so vital a partner in his role on the Interior Appropriations Committee. We missed seeing Congressman Reichert and Senator Murray in person, but were welcomed by their staff. Congressman Dicks was on his way to a vote, but brought us into his office for five minutes to hear all the news from the park. We thought we'd missed Senator Cantwell, but she came in just as we were leaving and we were invited to join her and about ten other people for a coffee meeting! So we got to spend about half an hour with her and to present her with her poster in person. All of the elected representatives that we met today were very impressed by your accomplishments as volunteers, and all of our Washington delegation had very specific questions about the ongoing work in the park.

We're finalizing details for our return trip to D.C. for the Hartzog Award on May 8. We've tentatively confirmed two volunteers to travel to the Capitol to receive the award on behalf of the rest of you. I'll share the details with you when they are confirmed.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Next up: The Hartzog Award

On Monday, Mount Rainier National Park, the Student Conservation Association, and the Northwest Parks and Public Lands Storm Recovery Coalition received the Cooperative Conservation Award, the Department of the Interior's highest honor for leadership in the area of partnerships. In two weeks, on May 8th, Mount Rainier's volunteer program will receive the George B. Hartzog Jr. Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service, the National Park Service's highest honor. It's an exciting time for Mount Rainier volunteers!

In many ways, I've even more proud of the Hartzog Award than I am of the Cooperative Conservation Award. The latter recognizes those of us who work behind the scenes, the noble politicians and bureaucrats, organizing, directing, fundraising, promoting, and problem-solving. It's a great honor to be recognized for the hard work that has gone into building and implementing a shared vision for our volunteer efforts.

The Hartzog Award, by contrast, recognizes our field team: the 1,724 of you who came out and put in the hard work on the ground, building trails, planting trees, scanning historic images, and working in the park's visitor centers. You are the ones who've been keeping our greenhouse running and helping to rescue people lost on the mountain. You're the ones who've invested weekends to patrol trails at Carbon River and summers to serve as Campground Hosts at Cougar Rock and Ohanapecosh. You're the ones who've been coming out faithfully for twenty years, or who chose to spend four months living in a platform tent last summer, or who took a long weekend to camp out and serve as Meadow Rovers, or who spent a day of your vacation volunteering with the Washington Trails Association, or who squeezed in few hours to help restore the Longmire Campground with your kids on National Public Lands Day. You're the ones who wrote letters to your congressional representatives in support of the park, or invested your money in the SCA or Washington's National Park Fund during tough economic times.

Your George B. Hartzog Jr. Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service is well-deserved, and you deserve to be very proud.

We're still working on the logistics of who will travel to Washington to receive the Hartzog Award on your behalf. The award comes with round-trip travel for two people. We'll make sure that at least one of those is one of you. I wish we could bring all 1,724 of you to Washington D.C. and show all of the politicians and bureaucrats here just what an amazing team you really are.

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Cooperative Conservation Award Ceremony

The award ceremony was in the auditorium of the Main Interior building.

The ceremony opened with a color guard and the singing of the National Anthem.

The keynote speaker was Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne.

A photographer took photos of all of the award winners, so eventually I'll have a picture of us with the Secretary. For now, here's the nearest award winners to our own region: the Willamette River Water Trail Partnership. Secretary Kempthorne is second from the right.

SCA Vice President Jay Satz watches the ceremony and inspects his copy of the award certificate.

After the ceremony, we got a photo of the whole group with my own camera. I'm on the left in uniform next to Jay Satz (SCA), Sean Smith (NPCA), and Superintendent Dave Uberuaga. We're flanked by representatives of Congressman Norm Dicks, who attended the ceremony.

The partnerships workshop begins tomorrow. It'll be interesting to hear from all the different award winners.

Volunteers on the Mall

It's Monday morning and I'm preparing for the Cooperative Conservation Award ceremony. My wife and I came out to D.C. a few days early to see some of the sights on the Mall. The weather was wet, wet, wet, wet, wet!

That made for some dramatic photographs and smaller crowds. We saw lots of volunteers in action on the Mall. Here are a few of them.

These guys were in line to go up in the Washington Monument. When the park ranger started to clean up a mess around the trash can, they ran over to help. Spontaneous volunteerism!

Volunteers provide information from kiosks around the Mall. I like the reflection of the Washington Monument in this photo. Unfortunately, I didn't think to write down the volunteer's name.

At the Vietnam War Memorial, several volunteers were working to assist visitors. Here, volunteer Donald Adam helps a visitor make a rubbing from a name on the wall.

Along with assisting visitors, volunteer Leroy Lawson takes pictures that are used by the National Park Service in exhibits and publications.

Ron Worstell is another Kiosk information volunteer.

These aren't park service volunteers, but I had to add a picture of the large crowds of young people who turned out in the rain to hear speakers talk about the importance of environmental action on the eve of Earth Day. That's Edward Norton speaking on the stage and monitor.

One more thing to share: This from Superintendent Dave Uberuaga this morning:

As I am getting ready to attend the Departmental Award ceremony I was reflecting on our last year together. I just want you to know how much I appreciate your involvement at Mount Rainier. You worked hard to help all our members, friends, partners and volunteers come together for a incredible response to the floods and more. The recognition today is about your partnership-I salute you and stand proud to represent you on the stage today. I wish we could all be here today.


sent from Dave's BlackBerry

Well said, and my sentiments exactly!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Washington Coast Cleanup Day at Olympic National Park

From the Northwest Interpretive Association, for those of you near Olympic National Park:

Washington Coast Cleanup Day is Almost Upon Us - Join Us April 26th! To celebrate Earth Day this year, we're hoping about 1000 people will come out to Washington's Pacific Coast to help remove tons of marine debris from our state's beaches. It's going to be a great day, and I hope to see lots of NWIA people and partners out there helping. Visit the Washington CoastSavers website to signup for your favorite beach: .

Thursday, April 17, 2008

We won!

Great news, everyone! I got a call this afternoon from Joy Pietschmann, the Servicewide Volunteer Coordinator for the National Park Service. She informed us that our volunteer program here at Mount Rainier has won one the Service's highest awards: the George B. Hartzog Jr. Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service!

Every year, one volunteer individual, one group, and one program are selected nationwide. This year's individual award winner is Dr. Jennifer Dow, who has worked with many of the Alaska parks to provide and develop partnerships to provide medical training and rescue services. This year's volunteer group is the Flight 93 Volunteer Ambassadors. Our program won for our outstanding success in working with volunteers following the flood of November 2006.

In other words, you--you!--are the reason for this award, all 1,724 of you! I am as proud as I can be. I'll keep you posted as I get more details.

Lots of new news

I'm off to Washington D.C. tomorrow for a week of awards, workshops, conferences, and, yes, a little bit of sightseeing. But it has been a busy week, with lots of news to pass on to you.

Donations: First, check out these awesome paintings painted by volunteer Allan Dreyer! Four of these paintings have been donated by Allan to Washington's National Park Fund, to be auctioned off at our gala reopening ceremony at the Paradise Inn next month. Allan has a real gift for painting Mount Rainier's landscapes, and capturing the play of light on snow and trees. If you're attending the auction, watch for his work. Some of the remaining paintings will be donated to offices at the park, and others will be available for sale.

Wonderland Repair: Plans have been released for repairing the Wonderland Trail in the Carbon River Valley. You're all encouraged to comment on the proposed environmental assessment. Find the complete press release here, and submit your comments online at (Choose Mount Rainier from the drop-down menu.)

Potluck Brunch for Meadow Rovers: If you're a Meadow Rover, or think you might like to be one, join us for brunch at the Mountaineers Clubhouse in Tacoma on May 10:

May 10, Sat., 9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. – Potluck Brunch hosted by the Tacoma Branch Hiking & Backpacking Committee and the Mt. Rainier Sunrise Volunteers In the Park (VIPs), at the Tacoma clubhouse, 2302 N. 30th Street, Tacoma, WA 98403. All Mountaineers members are welcome to attend this event to find out about volunteering at Mt. Rainier National Park and to help the Sunrise VIP's kick off the 2008 Meadow Roving season. There are a number of Tacoma Mountaineers who volunteer at Sunrise during the summer, as well as other Mountaineers who volunteer at Paradise and in the backcountry on a year round basis. Opportunities at the Park abound - check out the volunteer opportunities listed on the Park website, It's a terrific "job"! If you have just a couple of days a month (weekends or weekdays) there is something for you to do at MRNP. If you've done all the trail maintenance and rebuilding that your body can handle, meadow roving might be just the ticket to get you out and let you give something back to the Park. Bring something yummy to share for brunch. We'll plan to start serving food at 9:30 a.m. Doors will be open by 8:00 a.m. if you want to come early to slip your treat into the oven to heat it up. Coffee, tea, juice, tableware will be provided. Questions or for directions, contact Amy Mann,, 253-759-2796 or Martha Scoville,, 253-752-5014.

News links: Perhaps some of you saw the notice on the Washington Trails Association blog or in the News Tribune newspaper about the ski hut that burned down near Ashford. Many of you, I know, love to ski on these trails, so this is a great loss. The Akron, Ohio newspaper had a short feature on our lead climbing ranger, Mike Gauthier. And Volunteer Eric Degerman has a detailed post on the blog of the Tri-City Herald, commenting on our especially snowy year here at the park.
Still snowing: Speaking of snow, it remains very snowy at Longmire, with more in the forecast. Paradise, of course, has been snowy too, though not quite on the record pace we've set at lower elevations. Ranger Stefan Lofgren writes, "There has been some interest in how this year's snowfall is shaping up compared to other years. We have just over 800 inches currently and two more months. If we get average amounts for April, May, and June, that will put us up to near 900 inches by June 30th." Here's a breakdown of the top 10 years so far:
1. 1971-72: 1,122
2. 1973-74: 1,071
3. 1970-71: 1,027
4. 1955-56: 1,000
5. 1998-99: 963
6. 2001-02: 855
7. 1975-76: 854
8. 1968-69: 829
9. 1974-75: 820
10. 1996-97: 795
Digital Photography Class: Our Museum Curator, Brooke Childrey, writes:
Hi Folks:
Last year I tried to schedule a photography class for park staff with John Chao and Loren Schmidt our VIP Photographers. Well, we finally have a class date--Two actually and field sessions.The class will be held on May 16th and repeated on June 27th. The class is a half day (9am -noon). Field sessions will be scheduled for July and August with each of the participants in the class, so that the groups are small and work with your summer schedule.
This class is open to all park employees (Perms, Terms, Seasonals, VIP, Interns, SCA, etc.). No camera is necessary at the first class. For the field classes, I will try to have extra digitals available for those who do not have one. If interested in attending, Please check with your supervisors first and then drop me an email or voice mail letting me know whether you want to attend the May 16 class or the June 27 class.
That's all for now, folks. More news rumored to be on the way later today, and I'll try to post an entry or two from Washington next week as well.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Preparing for the Cooperative Conservation Workshop

I'm preparing for a short presentation at the Cooperative Conservation Workshop in Washington D.C. next Tuesday. My challenge is to come up with a PowerPoint presentation lasting five minutes or less that introduces our volunteer program and the success it achieved through our partnerships with the Student Conservation Association and the Northwest Parks and Public Lands Storm Recovery Coalition last summer. That's a challenge! We were so successful that it's hard to boil down to 5 minutes. Here's what I've come up with. It's 28 slides, but I think if I move through them briskly and resist the urge to enthuse over the people and projects pictured in every image, it'll probably meet the criteria...

I'm looking forward to my trip to Washington D.C., meeting all the other Cooperative Conservation Award winners, and hearing about their projects. It sounds like key people in the agency could be there, including Secretary Kempthorne, and maybe even some of our members of Congress. What a great opportunity to promote the important work of volunteers in our National Parks and other public lands!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Volunteers Respond: Preliminary survey results

Our survey of volunteers is now complete. Thank you to all of you who responded with your comments and insights! There were 157 responses total. Jill Baum and I are sifting through the numbers and written comments, and probably will be doing so for some time. This is a treasure-trove of information that will allow us to identify your greatest concerns and challenges and how to overcome them. It will help us to focus our training efforts this summer. It will help us to determine what's working really well, which we should hang onto, and what's broken and needs fixing.

I'm sure many of you will be interested in seeing the results, too. Here is the first piece: the summary of responses. This contains only the numerical responses. The written commentary is on a separate spreadsheet, which I will post as well as soon as I have a chance to review it and make sure that any potential privacy concerns (e.g. names mentioned) are addressed.

Here are some highlights from the summary:

  • Our responses came from a great cross-section of volunteers, including about equal parts those that volunteered only once, those that volunteered 2-5 times, and those that volunteered 6 or more times last year.

  • 43% of respondents volunteered less than 20 hours last year, while 25% volunteered more than 100 hours. (We appreciate every one of those hours, by the way, even the smaller numbers.)

  • Most volunteers live between 51 and 100 miles from the park. Fully 28% of our volunteers travel more than a hundred miles to get here.

  • 42% of our volunteers camp overnight when they volunteer.

  • 70% would be interested in carpooling or public transportation.

  • The biggest challenge that prevented people from volunteering was schedule conflicts, followed closely in second place by a related concern, lack of time.

  • 96% of our volunteers said they were somewhat or very pleased with their experience.

  • The favorite volunteer task, by far, was trail maintenance, followed by meadow roving and backcountry patrol. (I wonder if this is partly because more people had experience with trail maintenance last year than any other activity?)

  • Summer weekends are the best time for most people to volunteer. However, a healthy percentage look for opportunities during the winter or on weekdays, as well. The same is true for the best times to participate in volunteer training.

  • The most popular training opportunities are plant identification, wilderness first aid, ecology, geology, and meadow restoration, followed by trail maintenance, backcountry travel and safety, map and compass use, interpretive skills, and historic preservation.

  • Good numbers of volunteers made at least occasional use of all of our volunteer resources except our volunteer handbook. I wonder if that's because it's not useful, or because few people have copies of it?

I promise much more feedback as I have more of a chance to sift through your responses and comments!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Now Recruiting: Volunteer Program Assistant

Duties: Mount Rainier National Park is looking for a capable individual or individuals who can assist with the day to day operation of a very active volunteer program.

Last year, we worked with 1,724 individuals who contributed 84,038 hours of volunteer service. We currently have 300 additional names in our prospective volunteer database. We work with dozens of groups, multiple partnerships, and most of the park's various programs. Volunteers come from as near as Ashford and as far away as Russia. Every active or prospective volunteer requires a database entry, correspondence, updates on park news, various kinds of paperwork, training, supervision, housing, and uniforms. We're looking for someone who can help with these basic tasks, freeing the Volunteer Program Manager to work on long-range planning, project coordination, recruitment, partnership building, fundraising, budget wrangling, and other management tasks. Specific projects might include (roughly in order of priority):

  • Answering volunteer correspondence
  • Recording data from volunteer applications, work agreements, and timesheets into a computer database
  • Sorting and filing paperwork
  • Organizing and maintaining our equipment storage area
  • Helping the Student Conservation Association's Mount Rainier Recovery Corps with projects, including organizing equipment, building platform tents for volunteer housing, or preparing and serving meals for teams of volunteers
  • Assisting with special events such as National Trails Day, National Public Lands Day, volunteer training, and volunteer appreciation picnics
  • Assisting with preparations for special groups, including the Youth Conservation Corps and the Japan Volunteers in Parks Association
  • Creating or updating written and online reference materials for volunteers and their supervisors
  • Taking photographs and/or digital video of volunteers in action, for park records and recruitment, and posting these files on the park's website
  • Maintaining and contributing to this volunteer program blog and/or newsletters
  • Developing new online tools for volunteer program management and recruitment

Exciting things are happening with Mount Rainier National Park's volunteer program. You can help us to maintain our role as a leader among NPS volunteer programs nationwide!

Location and Housing: Housing is not available for this position. Commuting is required. The park's volunteer program is based out of Longmire, in the southwest corner of the park. Some of the work could be done remotely via the World Wide Web.

Time Commitment Required: Up to three volunteers are needed who can commit a total of 16 to 24 hours per week.

Skills required:

  • Attention to detail.
  • Ability to work comfortably with computer databases and websites.
  • Strong written language skills.
  • Ability to follow directions carefully, but also to work independently.
  • Creativity and problem-solving.

Other Information: Homeland Security regulations require that volunteers working on networked computer systems complete a basic background check. Numerous training opportunities are available to volunteers, including volunteer program management, wilderness first aid, CPR, trail construction, risk management, Leave No Trace, and others.

For more information: Contact Kevin Bacher, Volunteer Program Manager, at 360-569-2211 extension 3385.

To apply: Visit our listing on, where you can submit an application online. For a listing of other volunteer opportunities at Mount Rainier, visit our volunteer projects page. For volunteer opportunities in your area, visit and search for your zip code.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Spring Break Roundup, part 2

More news from my in box this week:

Volunteer Program Management Training: Mount Rainier National Park will host training in volunteer program management on May 28 and 29. This 15-hour course will focus on the nitty-gritty details of recruiting, hiring, and supervising volunteers, as well as running a volunteer program. It's targeted first to NPS supervisors, but would also be valuable training for anyone who wants to work with volunteers--including volunteers interested in taking on leadership roles. Click here for the complete training announcement and nomination form.

Snow and other winter hazards: Ohanapecosh might open late due to the heavy snowpack. One of our seasonal housing apartment buildings was damaged a few weeks ago when snow pushed over the chimney; it won't be habitable until the furnace venting has been fixed. And it looks like the opening for Skate Creek Road, between the west side of the park and Packwood, will be delayed because of an extensive rock slide across the road. WASDOT has projected tentative opening dates of May 9 for SR 123, and May 23 for SR 410.

New Visitor Center Sneak Peek: Climbing volunteer Rebecca Agiewich got a preview of the new visitor center under construction at Paradise. Read her report, with lots of pictures, on the Mount Rainier Climbing Blog.

From Reindeer to Rainier: Check out a free presentation subtitled "People and Climate Change from the Nordic Countries to the Pacific Northwest" on Tuesday, April 22 at 7 p.m. at the Seattle REI. This far-reaching discussion includes input from UW scientists, volunteer glacier monitors in Iceland, and North Cascades Superintendent Chip Jenkins.

A report from Tamaki Yasuoka: Tamaki is a member of the Japan Volunteers-in-Parks Association who spent a few weeks volunteering in the Jackson Visitor Center at Paradise last summer. Her report, attached here in PDF format, is a colorful and informative look at the experience of an international volunteer at Mount Rainier. We work with several such volunteers every year; they take a lot of extra planning and logistical preparation, but the benefits can be very rewarding, both for the volunteer and for the park.

Day Hiking: Mount Rainier: That's the title of a new book of day hikes published by Dan Nelson and reviewed by the National Parks Traveler blog. 1% of the proceeds from the book are donated to the Washington Trails Association, a major partner with Mount Rainier National Park in our volunteer trail maintenance and repair following the storms of November 2006.

Association of Partners for Public Lands lauds Cooperative Conservation Award: We were recognized by APPL in their monthly newsletter. That awards ceremony is coming up in just two weeks, on April 21, in Washington, D.C.

Spring Break news roundup

I doubt many of you noticed, but I've been away from the office for the past week, vacationing with my family over Spring Break. I'm still catching up on my e-mail and phone messages, and there are a few issues that have come up over the past week that need to be dealt with, mostly involving logistics for the large number of volunteers we expect to host in the historic Longmire Campground this year. Which, ultimately, is a good thing! And I have little doubt that the inevitable snags will be far less complicated to resolve that those we dealt with last year in the immediate wake of our great flood.

Meanwhile, here's a roundup of the flotsam and jetsom in my in box this morning:

Snow at Paradise... and Longmire: Washington Ski Touring Club member Lynn Tucker sent an e-mail to backcountry supervisor John Piastuck last week, asking about the schedule for their traditional removal of the poles marking ski routes at Paradise. His response: "Due to the heavy snow we are going to leave the poles up for awhile. When the road crew starts spring opening on the Canyon Rd, we will grab those poles. I imagine visitors will be using the Nisqually for another month at least. 21 feet of snow up there now." Wow, that's a lot of snow!

Our daily report says 243 inches as of this morning, including 15 inches of new snow overnight, with an estimate of 790 inches total for the snow year so far (July to June). There are still 62 inches of snow on the ground at Longmire, including 7 inches fresh overnight.

According to the Western Regional Climate Center, the average snow depth for Paradise on this date is 177.2 inches, and for Longmire, 8.1 inches. The record depth for this date is 328 inches at Paradise, in 1956, and for Longmire, 39 inches, in 1997--so our current snow depth at Longmire has shattered the old record. Average cummulative snow depth for this date at Paradise is 606 inches, so while we're on track for a banner year, it probably won't break the record of 1,122 inches set in 1972.

Guns in Parks: The issue of whether guns should be allowed in National Parks has been a very hot issue recently, with press coverage nationwide. Guns are currently not allowed in the parks, except for those carried by our law enforcement rangers, but revised regulations have been proposed that would make them legal. As a government employee, I cannot take an official position on this issue. Private citizens certainly can, however, including NPS volunteers. One of our own, George Coulbourn, an NRA member who volunteers at Carbon River, has weighed in and has generated lots of commentary in newspapers and blogs across the spectrum. Here's a sampling from my Google News alerts:

"Gun debate plays out at Mount Rainier National Park," The News Tribune, March 26 (and updated March 27 here). Reprints so far, with plenty of online responses and commentary, include Free Republic (March 27); the Casper Star-Tribune (March 29); and the Jackson Hole Star-Tribune (March 29, and updated March 31). Blog responses include "More on National Parks," Snowflakes in Hell, March 28; and "The Gun Banner Game Plan," Ride Fast & Shoot Straight, March 29.

More later...