Saturday, February 21, 2009

News and upcoming events

There are several current events relevant to volunteers going on at Mount Rainier this week. Here's a quick round-up:

Volunteers Needed
From West District Interpreter Curt Jacquot: Hi Staff and VIP Friends! We will be moving things from the Longmire Field Office and the Museum on Friday, February 27. We need to vacate the Field Office for a renovation. This is a small job for many or a big job for a few individuals. Please let me know (360-569-2211 ext. 3312) if you can help or not. Meet at the Museum at 9:00 AM. We'll go till 4:00 PM. Drinks, snacks, and a crock-pot of soup provided. Thanks in advance!

John Muir is coming to Seattle
This from David Graves: The National Parks Conservation Association is hosting a very special event this spring. John Muir, the father of the modern conservation movement, is coming to Seattle. Lee Stetson is an actor who has portrayed John Muir for years at Yosemite National Park and around the country. On March 19th, he will be visiting Seattle’s Town Hall for:

The Spirit of John Muir
This show is a fun romp through some of the very best of Muir's grand, thrilling adventures in his beloved western wilderness. The show includes Muir's encounters with a mighty Yosemite earthquake, a climb up Mount Rainier , dangerous Alaskan ice crevasses, snow blindness, and much more - all liberally salted with Muir's wilderness philosophy.

When: Thursday, March 19, 2009. Doors open at 6:00 PM ; Show starts at 6:30 PM

Where: Town Hall Seattle, 1119 Eighth Avenue (at Seneca Street)

Tickets purchased by March 13th, will be $7.00 plus applicable fees at: Tickets purchased at the door will be $10.00. For more information, please contact Shane Farnor at (206) 903-1444, x24 or

About Lee Stetson : Lee Stetson's plays include three one-person shows based on the life of naturalist John Muir, and a fourth based on both Muir and President Theodore Roosevelt. These productions, with Mr. Stetson in the title role, have been presented in Yosemite National Park since 1983 to more than a quarter of a million visitors. Additionally, the Muir shows have toured throughout the country to universities, parks, museums, wilderness and environmental organizations from Washington D.C. to Hawaii . Mr. Stetson lectures frequently on the arts and the environment, and spends a considerable portion of his time promoting the performing arts in the national parks. Lee's career has included founding and managing the Hawaii Performing Arts Company, being the Artistic Manager of both the Hawaii Theatre Festival and the Antique Theatre Festival of Idaho, and freelance directing throughout the Northwest and in Los Angeles . He is also featured in the upcoming Ken Burns’ documentary, The National Parks: America’s Best Idea.

A poster for this event to post at your place of work can be downloaded at:

Volunteers publish foreign language brochures
Mount Rainier has been working with volunteers based at the National Park Service's Columbia Cascades Support Office in Seattle to translate park brochures for use by speakers of languages other than English. Interpretive Media Specialist Patti Wold has posted the brochures on our website:

Climbing Program wins national safety award
Here's a note from Superintendent's secretary Donna Rahier:

CONGRATULATIONS TO US!!! The two highest awards bestowed by the National Park Service for outstanding public and employee safety achievement – the Andrew Clark Hecht Public Safety Achievement Award and the Director’s Safety and Health Achievement Award – have been presented to Mount Rainier and Glacier Bay National Parks. This year, the Division of Risk Management was pleased to receive outstanding nominations from six regional winners competing for the public safety award and five regional winners competing for the employee safety award. Two separate review committees comprised of field, regional and headquarter NPS staff faced a challenging task to select the best from among such excellent contenders, but each review committee member put careful consideration into the selection process.

2008 Andrew Clark Hecht Public Safety Achievement Award
Mount Rainier National Park, Pacific West Region – Despite unforgiving conditions and the more than 9,000 climbers who visit Mount Rainier National Park annually, through innovative efforts of the Mount Rainier Climbing Program, other park staff and partners, the park was able to realize impressive decreases in injuries and fatalities over a sustained three year period. Enhanced communication, training, improved concessions management, and improved coordination among park programs has resulted in significant reductions in visitor injuries. Climbing-related search and rescues (SARs) have decreased from 1.14 per 1,000 climbers in 1998-2005 to 0.49 from 2006-2008. Injuries have also decreased, from 1.03 per 1,000 climbers in 1998-2005 to 0.35 in 2006-2008. Fatalities on the upper mountain have also decreased from 0.18 per 1,000 climbers in 2005-2008, and there were no fatalities in 2006-2008. Overall, 2008 had the least number of total park-wide search and rescue incidents (10) since 1987.

Mount Rainier's climbing program relies heavily on volunteers to staff upper mountain high camps and the climber information center at Paradise. Climbing volunteers, this award belongs to you as much as it does to the paid staff!

Are you deducting volunteer travel on your taxes?
There's been a very interesting discussion on our volunteer discussion group regarding deducting travel expenses incurred while volunteering on your Federal taxes. I am not a tax professional, and everyone should check with their own tax advisor to confirm this information; but the word is that travel to and from the park, when you're volunteering, can be deducted in Schedule A if you itemize on your taxes, in the "Gifts for Charity" section. You can claim the actual amount you spent on gas, if you've kept specific records, or a specified amount per mile, which in 2008 was 14 cents per mile. Given current gas prices, this is a good reason to start keeping good records! This is also the kind of discussion that demonstrates why it's worthwhile to join our free volunteer discussion group.

I blog, you blog, isn't everybody blogging?
Apparently not. A recent article on the blog of the Sunlight Foundation is called "The Feds are blogging," and discusses a new trend of openness in government through the use of blogs. They list a grand total of 40 such blogs currently active as a means of communicating interactively with the public, including--hey--this one! But only 40? I knew we were on the cutting edge, but given the size of the Federal government, and the importance of communicating with and listening to feedback from those we serve, that number seems a bit anemic. But maybe we'll inspire others! Meanwhile, if YOU have ideas about how to make this means of communicating with you BETTER, I'm all ears: post your ideas in the comments section at the end of this post! (And while you're at it, also check out

No comments: