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.

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