Monday, December 7, 2009

Winter volunteer opportunities

Yes, it's that time of year again! I'm starting to get inquiries about what opportunities might be available for volunteering at Mount Rainier National Park during the winter months--which up here in the mountains means roughly November through May. Unfortunately, there aren't many such opportunities. But there are a few. Here's a quick summary:

- Nordic Patrol. We work in partnership with the Washington Ski Touring Club to provide ski patrol services at Paradise, including marking trail routes and assisting visitors. This requires a very dedicated and spirited kind of volunteer, but those who contribute provide an invaluable service. People interested in this opportunity should contact WSTC directly at, as we work with the group, not with individuals. If you have questions about ski patrol at Mount Rainier, contact Daniel Camiccia at 360-569-2211 ext. 3419.

- Visitor center and snowshoe walks. Most of the work in our visitor centers, and on the trails leading snowshoe walks, is done by our permanent and seasonal staff. However, there are always busy times like the Christmas holidays when we're short staffed and welcome the help of volunteers. Anyone interested in these opportunities should contact us well in advance of the winter season so that they can participate in our winter seasonal training in early December. In other words, if you're interested this year, now is the time to contact our West District Interpreter, Lee Snook, to express your interest. Her number is 360-569-6043.

- Greenhouse assistance. Our greenhouse is active throughout the winter, and we're always open to working with volunteers who are willing to commit to coming out on a regular basis to help us weed, pot, and care for our plants, most of which will be used on revegetation projects during the summer. We especially need help in the spring as we're gearing up for the season. For more information, see our listing on, or contact Josh Drown at 360-569-6170.

- Curatorial library. Brooke Childrey, our museum curator, works with many volunteers to sort and store our archives, photos, and historic artifacts collections. Our full-time curator positions are filled for this winter already, but there may still be possibilities for the right person to help with special projects on an intermittent basis. Call Brook at 360-569-2211 ext. 2366.

- Education program. Our curriculum-based education program works with many school groups in the spring and fall, and also has a number of curriculum-development projects underway. We're always looking for individuals who have educational background and experience to help out. For more information, contact Fawn Bauer at 360-569-6037.

All of these opportunities, as well as the summer positions we're already recruiting for, are posted on our NPS website at

By the way, as you may know, during the summer we provide free camping for people who volunteer in the park. In the winter that's also true--but much colder! So, during the winter we also keep an apartment warm and stocked with basic supplies for use by working volunteers. If you are able to arrange an intermittent winter volunteer position, contact me to ask about using the volunteer apartment. My number is 360-569-2211 ext. 3385.

Summer positions will be coming soon! Watch the list in the right-hand column and on the NPS website for positions we're currently recruiting, including student internships, volunteer coordinators, campground hosts, group opportunities, and many more. If you'd like to get on our mailing list, just send me an e-mail. And watch this blog for late-breaking updates!

Lower elevation opportunities: While we're under heavy snow for half the year, many of our partners work at lower elevation under the snowline. Consider volunteering with them through the winter! The Washington Trails Association, for example, has a long list of volunteer projects. Olympic National Park has land as low as sea level, and their annual Coast Cleanup is legendary. Or, check out the websites of the National Parks Conservation Association, Washington's National Park Fund, or The Mountaineers. You can also find great opportunities throughout the region on the websites and

Wherever you contribute, thanks for your time!

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