Thursday, April 30, 2009

DRAFT Interpretive Training Schedule

Hey volunteers, we've started nailing down the schedule for the Interpretive Training, but let me emphasize that this remains a DRAFT. Each day has a theme of sorts, and I've broken the days into morning (AM) and afternoon (PM).

Tues 6/2 - Day 1: Climate Change

AM: Introduction, Paperwork and Orientation
PM: Speaker - Climate Change

Wed 6/3 - Day 2: Geology
AM: Presentation & Demo
PM: Field Trip

Thur 6/4 - Day 3: Ecology

AM: Presentation
PM: Demo's

Fri 6/5 - Day 4: History & Culture

AM: Presentation & Field Trip
PM: Demo

Sat 6/6 - Day 5: Informal Interp, Living History & Ecology

AM: Technique, Practice & Demo
PM Walk & Presentation

The tenitive plan is for the day to start at 9:00 AM, breaking for an hour lunch at 12:00 PM and ending at 4:00 PM. Remeber, this schedule is only a DRAFT is is subject to change.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Volunteer and Employee Photo Contest

I just found out about this contest, it sounds like a great opportunity for both Volunteers and Employees of the park to have some fun and maybe win an awesome new digital camera (courtesy of Olympus) for the park. All you have to do is take pictures of NPS Staff and Volunteers in their natural habitat: the park, and engaged in any scientific, educational or interpretive activities related to the parks natural resources. Pictures of visitors enjoying the park are also encouraged.

You can find the entry form and rule here.

So get out there and start taking those pictures, lets win this one for the home team.

Big Project Funding coming to Mt. Rainier

Cash, money, moolah, bling, whatever you call it, Mt. Rainier has some more coming it’s direction this year, courtesy of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. A little over $3.3 Million dollars is going towards the funding of nine projects including:

  • Improved public access to the Carbon River Area.
  • The replacement of exhibits at Sunrise Visitor Center and improving access from people with disabilities.
  • The repair of storm damaged trails.

This one will involve lots of you - the volunteers. Members from the Washington Conservation Corps, EarthCorps, Northwest Youth Corps, Student Conservation Association, as well as volunteers from the Sierra Club and Washington Trails Association will all be working to help bring these trails back to their former glory.

  • Stabilizing the riverbanks and repairing damaged pavement on the Longmire back road.
  • Replacing the electric power line at Narada Falls overlook.
  • Building an accessible trailhead at the new Henry M. Jackson Memorial Visitor Center.

This is also real cool, the plan is to have our volunteers in the Japan Volunteers-in-Parks Association (J-VIPA) program work on building the trailhead when they come over in August and September.

  • Fixing structural problems in historic buildings.
  • Installing a grid-tied solar system on park buildings.

In keeping with the goal of having Mount Rainier National Park carbon neutral by the 2016 Centennial of the National Park Service, money is going towards the installation of a photovoltaic cells on the Longmire Emergency Operations Center.

And this is just a fractions of the $750 million and nearly 800 projects to be completed on National Parks across the country.

If you like to see a full list of the projects happening at parks across the nation check out

Volunteering Rates Dropping? Perhaps...

Hey again, Nick here,

Now, the post title maybe a little worrisome, but I think there is more here than meets the eye.

Kevin recently passed on to me a rather interesting article written by the AP and published on MSNBC.

The gist of it is this: ever since September 11th youth volunteering has been growing, but a recent report released by a Tufts University volunteer research group called CIRCLE shows that in 2005 volunteerism reached its high point with one in three youths volunteering, but in 2006 and 2007 this number dropped to 29 and then 28 percent.

Now, these numbers reflect a variety of conditions, including the impact the current economy has on Nonprofit organizations. In some cases Nonprofits are turning away volunteers because of staff reductions. So it might not be that less people are volunteering, it's that the economy is hurting Nonprofits.

The article also talks about kids and students who once volunteered now having to go find jobs. And the struggle of getting them involved.

A silver lining for Washington at least.

Vermont, North Dakota, Alaska, Utah and Washington were among those with the highest percentages of 16 to 18-year-olds (all above 40 percent, when combining the 2006 and 2007 samples).

So read the article, and keep on volunteering, I know that at least up at Mt. Rainier we always have room for more.

Disclaimer: "Room for more" does not necessarily translate into physical space...

Full Article


Hi everyone, I'm Nick Abel, and I'm Kevin's new Volunteer Coordinator Intern. I'm new to the volunteering game, or at least to the management (that word sounds so... harsh) side, so I figure the best way to break the ice would be an - Introduction Post!

I'm so excited to be working at Mt. Rainier with Kevin this season. I'm a Washington native, coming down from Sammamish (right up the hill from Issaquah), so I have grow up to love an appreciate the beauty of Mt. Rainier and Washington in general. While not interning for Kevin I usually reside in Moscow, Idaho, where I go to school at the University of Idaho.

Expect to see me posting as often as possible, and I hope to see some of you up at Mt. Rainier in the coming months. Looking forward to a great season full of great volunteerism.


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Junior Ranger Program volunteers needed at Ohanapecosh

Volunteers needed to help with Junior Ranger Programs at Ohanapecosh

Volunteers are needed to help provide hour-long children's activities on Mondays and Tuesdays at 10:00 a.m. throughout the summer. Assistance is also needed on weekends at the same time, but the greatest need is for Mondays and Tuesdays.

Housing is not available, so this opportunity is only open to those within commuting distance, though free camping is available in association with your days of volunteering. Volunteers should be willing to undergo a background check. This opportunity is open to both new and existing volunteers!

If you're available and interested, please contact Julia Pinnix by e-mail or by phone at 360-569-6048, or submit an online application.

Happy Earth Day!

President Barack Obama works with Student Conservation Association volunteers on Earth Day

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A New Patriotism

Following up the President's signing of the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, here's a great commentary I came across, by Alan Khazei, addressing our need for "Big Citizenship" rather than "Big Government."

In developing a new approach to addressing our 21st Century challenges, we need to look to what has always been America's greatest natural resource - We the People. From our revolutionary citizen soldiers, to the numerous voluntary associations that so impressed De Tocqueville, to the abolitionists, the suffragists, trade unionists and the civil rights marchers, it has always been citizens that have led great change in America.
The whole article can be read here.

National service, volunteer vacations, and Junior Rangers

Several items caught my eye in the news this morning:

First, President Obama plans to sign the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act this afternoon, tripling the size of Americorps and setting a broad bipartisan priority for volunteerism in the coming years.

Second, an interesting article on about "volunteer vacations," a growing trend among people who want to contribute in a positive way as part of their time away from work. Here at Mount Rainier, the Washington Trails Association's volunteer vacations are wildly popular each year, and our own volunteer program is working to develop regularly scheduled volunteer projects that would better lend themselves to people who want to plan ahead to participate.

And finally, an article about Junior Rangers, also in MSNBC. Not directly related to volunteerism, perhaps... but watch later today for a volunteer recruitment notice for someone to help with our own Junior Ranger programs here at Mount Rainier!

Meanwhile, from the recent mailbag:

Monday, April 20, 2009

Skywarn Weather Spotter Trainier at Mount Rainier on May 11

Here's a great way to contribute as a volunteer from your own back yard! Join us May 11 to learn how to keep track of basic weather data, contribute to our understanding of weather and climate around Mount Rainier, and help make our forecasts more accurate and effective:

by the National Weather Service

Where: Tahoma Woods Education Center – Mt Rainier NP
Date: Monday, May 11, 2009

When: 6:00—8:30 PM
Who: Open to all interested citizens, amateur radio, CERT, citizen corps, emergency responders, transportation, public works, park staff

RSVP: Barbara Nelson, Pierce County Emergency Management 253-798-2168 or

This is your opportunity to learn how to look for and report significant weather events. Use of powerful visual media and group discussion make this class fun! You can play an important role in identification of area hazardous weather events. Spotters are needed, especially in rural parts of Pierce and Lewis Counties, as well as those who have weather instrumentation, such as an anemometer. Class capacity is 35, so sign up early!

Earth Day Park Cleanup

Here's an event that gets park employees out cleaning up our park! Our regular volunteers are part of our "all park" team, so if you're in the area, stop by and join us for breakfast and a volunteer project!

Wednesday, April 22nd
7:00 am to 9:00 am at the Longmire Auto Shop
Hosted by the Administration Division
Celebrate Earth Day by enjoying breakfast and participating in the all park clean-up! Breakfast begins at 7:00 am in the Auto Shop, and the all park clean-up will begin at approximately 10:00 am at Tahoma Woods.

Grand Reopening Celebration of the Longmire Library

I'm proud to share with you the following upcoming event, which was made possible in part through many hours contributed by some very dedicated volunteers:

Come one, Come all
to the
Grand Re-opening of the Longmire Library
Thursday, April 23rd 10-Noon

After many, many, moons, late nights, and very long weeks, the re-cataloging of the park library books, aka Library makeover, project is finally complete! Join the curatorial program in a celebration of the completion of this project and see your new library system.

Ken Burns discusses National Parks on KUOW

In case you missed it, the featured guest on KUOW's Weekday radio show this morning was Ken Burns, who is previewing his new documentary about the National Parks this evening at Benaroya Hall. It's an interesting listen, which you can hear in streaming media or download to your computer or MP3 player on the KUOW website.

I'm listening to the MP3 myself as I write this. What great ideas! "The National Parks are the Declaration of Independence applied to the landscape..." This is going to be one fascinating documentary.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Washington Coastal Cleanup at Olympic, April 18

Summer is rapidly coming--but don't look at the weather forecast! Looks like we may get still more snow above 1000' on Easter Sunday. At least, this time of year it melts rapidly. How does Longmire compare to average? We have 50 inches on the ground as of this morning, compared to an average of 7 inches for this date. That's either 700% of average, which sounds terrifying, or 43 inches over normal, which realistically is only a few extra weeks of good melting weather.

But clearly, we aren't planting at Longmire yet! The Mount Rainier National Park Associates will join us on April 25th for trail work, and are looking for volunteers to help, but that will almost certainly be at a lower elevation location such as Carbon River or Westside Road.

Meanwhile, you can't get much lower than sea level... so consider taking a jaunt across the Penninsula and joining Olympic National Park for their annual Coastal Cleanup Day on April 18! Here's the summary from National Parks Conservation Association representative David Graves:

It is time for this year's Washington Coastal Cleanup on Saturday, April 18, 2009. NPCA will once again be leading a volunteer group to the Olympic National Park for a day of cleaning up the coast and camping (if you want!). If you would like to camp, we will be camping at the Kalaloch Campground in the southwest corner of Olympic National Park (for free!) on Friday, April 17th and participating in the cleanup on the 18th. We will finish the cleanup in the afternoon, which will be followed by a cookout with all the volunteers. Afterwards, you are welcome to head home or stay another night, free of charge, at the beautiful beach side campground at Kalaloch. Last year we had no rain and a beautiful day on the beach. However, the year before we had non-stop rain, so come prepared for all types of weather! To join the group and get the details, please contact David at or (206) 902-1444, ext.25.

See also the Washington Coastsavers website at

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Outreach for Camping

Two interesting article have recently appeared about a new program we're offering here at Mount Rainier as part of our Outreach program. Called "Connecting Youth and Families to Our Parks," it will provide opportunities for traditionally underserved audiences to learn about and experience camping at Mount Rainier National Park with their families, under the guidance of Brad Carlquist, one of our park rangers. Here are the links for more information:

Free camping at Mount Rainier for city kids could be "use it or lose it" idea
The Seattle Times, April 9

Mount Rainier National Park: Reaching Out to Camping Newbies
National Parks Traveler, April 9

Potluck Brunch for volunteers May 9, hosted by the Mountaineers

From Meadow Rover Amy Mann, here's an update on our annual Volunteer Breakfast:

The date of our Spring Potluck Brunch is approaching. Time to catch up with each other and to kick off the 2009 Meadow Roving Season! The date is Saturday, May 9, at The Mountaineers Tacoma clubhouse. We'll plan to start serving food at 9:30 a.m.

The menu is potluck - bring whatever you think would be fun. Coffee, tea, juice and tableware will be provided. Last year the food was great and, of course, bountiful--why should this year be any different!

We'll be there to open the doors at 8:00 a.m. and could use some help setting up tables and chairs. There are two ovens and a microwave if you have something that needs to be heated up.

We hope you will join us and will pass the word along to any other volunteers we missed and to anyone who is interested in finding out how much fun we have volunteering at MRNP. This is a great recruiting opportunity--what better advertisement than a room full of people having fun!

And, of course, all Park employees who can get away are welcome to attend.

Below is the notice that has been running on The Mountaineers website and may well run in the Tacoma newspaper. Let us know if you will be joining us so we know how many tables to set up.

Looking forward to seeing you on May 9th!

Potluck Brunch hosted by the Mountaineers Tacoma Branch Hiking & Backpacking Committee and the Mt. Rainier Volunteers In the Park (VIPs), at the Tacoma clubhouse, 2302 N. 30th Street, Tacoma, WA 98403. All are welcome to attend this event to find out about volunteering at Mt. Rainier National Park and to help the Park VIP's kick off the 2009 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 Carol Berry,, 253-845-9297.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Year's first trail party scheduled

In The News Tribune this week, there is a short article about the Mount Rainier National Park Associates' first volunteer project of the year, scheduled for April 25. MRNPA will be helping with trail work somewhere in the park, probably Carbon River based on the amount of snow still on the ground at higher elevations. The group has been one of our most consistent and faithful volunteer partners, so if you're itching to get out and get your hands dirty (and who isn't?), consider joining their team! Details at their website:

Landmark Agreements Clear Path for Government New Media

As a "pioneer" (so they tell me) in government use of "new media," including blogs, YouTube, and other interactive websites, I've followed with interest President Obama's call for greater use of these media by government agencies.

Two interesting developments have occurred in recent weeks. First, this press release from the US General Services Administration, which I quote in part:

Answering President Obama's call to increase citizen participation in government, the U.S. General Services Administration is making it easier for federal agencies to use new media while meeting their legal requirements.... "We need to get official information out to sites where people are already visiting and encourage them to interact with their government," says GSA Acting Administrator Paul Prouty. “Millions of Americans visit new media sites every day. The new agreements make it easier for the government to provide official information to citizens via their method of choice.” To date, GSA has signed agreements with Flickr, YouTube, Vimeo and, and is in discussions with many other providers that offer free new media services. Federal agencies that want to use these services to meet their mission can now choose to sign the same agreements.

Sounds encouraging. Then yesterday I got an e-mail asking me to participate as a subject matter expert in the National Park Service's discussions about how to implement this policy. So stay tuned! (At the typical rate of governmental change, we might actually enter the 21st century in, oh, about 2016!)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Sabbatical in Mount Rainier National Park

A feature article by Amy L. Gregg, PhD., Associate Professor of Interpretation and Park Management at Ball State University. From July to December 2008, Dr. Gregg spent her sabbatical serving as a volunteer at Mount Rainier National Park.

The goal of my sabbatical was to learn how a national park communicates environmental stewardship for park visitors. I was interested in gaining a behind-the-scenes perspective on national park operations and how the ideas of “sustainability” were being incorporated into park management and visitor services. The term “sustainability” was operationally defined by the three tenets of 1) environment, 2) economics and 3) social equity, and I sought to learn how the three are interwoven in park management. My guiding hypothesis was that a national park serves as a role model for the broader community for finding sustainable, long-term solutions for managing our collective natural resources.

To learn how the concepts of sustainability were being communicated and demonstrated in a national park, I requested to work with two areas of park operations: 1) Interpretation and Education, and 2) Alternative Transportation. The Division of Interpretation was of interest in terms of the messages they communicate to visitors through personal and nonpersonal interpretation that relate to the ideas of sustainability. To learn more about the work of the Interpretation Division, I read and provided reflective comments on several strategic planning documents. Also, I was able to visit all of the visitor centers at Longmire, Paradise, Ohanapecosh, and Sunrise to observe their exhibits and staff interactions with visitors. I was able to spend additional time with interpretive staff by attending the November 2008 Centennial Workshop in Vancouver, WA and the National Association for Interpretation Annual Workshop, in Portland, OR, and also by participating in the NCCN Research Learning Network Workshop at Pack Forest in December. In addition, I attended the annual MORA Interpretation retreat to take part in group discussion, for reflecting on the previous year and planning for the year ahead, and I had the opportunity to make a presentation on my review of the strategic plan for Interpretation.

To study alternative transportation, I worked with several staff on the bus shuttle system, including several projects with the Community Planner. To learn more about shuttle operations, I took the bus several times from Longmire to Paradise to observe the drivers and how they communicated talking points to the visitors and I also observed the transportation interpreter’s program. After the 2008 shuttle season, my role was to analyze the ridership data from 2006, 2007, and 2008, and to create a presentation for the MORA management team meeting in November. Also, I researched other alternative transportation systems to help place the MORA system in context, using the larger NPS organizational framework. Based on this research, I provided final reports to the Park.

Based on the above experiences, I look forward to returning to my duties at Ball State University with a broader world view about national parks and many stories to share with my students in interpretation and park management. Also I plan to continue research projects involving national parks and other outdoor recreation agencies.

Dr. Gregg encourages anyone else who might be interested in spending their sabbatical in the national parks to contact the Sabbatical in the Parks Program, or to contact her for more information about her experience.

Diane Breeding, Program Coordinator
Sabbatical in the Parks Program
NPS Social Science Program
Texas A & M 255-B Francis Hall
2261 TAMU
College Station, TX 77843-2261
Ph. 979.862.1977
Fax 979.845.4792

Amy L. Gregg, PhD
Sabbatical in the Parks Volunteer
Associate Professor of Interpretation and Park Management
Dept. of Natural Resources and Environmental Management
Ball State University
WQ 114
Muncie, IN 47306
Work e-mail:
Work phone: 765-285-5781