Thursday, March 25, 2010

Curatorial Assisants sought for summer 2010

The summer job announcement for curatorial assistants at Mount Rainier National Park has reopened! We are looking for three additional volunteers to help us with the curation of the park's archives: Two from May 4 through September 30, and a third from mid-June through mid-September. For more information, check out previous blog entries about this position, or contact Brooke Childrey, park curator, at 360-569-2211 ext. 2366; then submit an application online!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Jim and Carol Miltimore nominated for Volunteer Service Award

The National Park Service's highest honor for volunteers is the George B. Hartzog Jr. Award for Outstand- ing Volunteer Service. Every year, the award is given to one individual (or couple); one group; and one volunteer program nationwide. (Our own volunteers won the national program award in 2008 for their extraordinary commitment to the park, especially in the wake of the great floods of November 2006.) Park staff all over the country are encouraged to nominate individuals or groups whose contributions to the parks have been extraordinary.

This year, rangers at Mount Rainier have nominated Jim and Carol Miltimore.

In describing why the Miltimores were nominated, it's hard to even know where to begin. Since they began volunteering in 2005, they have been active in almost every part of the park's operations, including citizen science, archeology, curatorial collections, flood recovery, meadow roving, revegetation, seed collection, spring opening, trail construction and maintenance, and wilderness patrol and cleanup. Between the two of them, Jim and Carol have contributed 11,715 hours of service to Mount Rainier National Park.

The Milti- mores' work ethic is legen- dary. Nancy Hori, Lead Librarian for the Pacific West Regional Library, writes of one project they worked on together: "There is absolutely no way that this project could have been accomplished in one trip without all the work they did before we arrived and all their help while we were there. Carol also did amazing follow-up work which allowed us to totally finish the project without a major return visit. This seldom if ever happens. Usually a major library project like this requires several return trips or is never truly satisfactorily finished.... It is not often you have such dedicated year round volunteers. Once they became involved, in this library project they brought to it every ounce of their enthusiasm, dedication and tenacity. I am truly inspired by their commitment to making Mount Rainier a better park."

"Carol and Jim are not typical volunteers," writes Park Curator Brooke Childrey and Acting Chief of Natural and Cultural Resources Greg Burtchard. "These two truly love the park and work long days, for weeks on end, to benefit park programs.... Even though their schedule ostensibly is Tuesday through Friday from 8:00 to 4:30, Jim and Carol often are present and working when the curation building opens at 7:30, and they regularly continue working well into the evening long past its closing. At the close of the week it is not uncommon for them to work clearing trails for skiers in the winter."
Geoff Walker, East District Wilderness Ranger, points out that the Miltimores have also been active in the summer months, working almost full-time to patrol trails and assist with backcountry maintenance. For example, "they identified the location of buried lead-covered wires in the Frozen lake area. The wires were part of an old water system designed to pump water from Lodi Creek, in Berkeley Park, up to Frozen Lake (the water source for Sunrise) should Frozen Lake dry up before the end of the season. Most of this system had been removed. Jim discovered that the still-buried wires contained lead and needed to be removed. This has been a multi-year project, and Jim and Carol have personally removed over a thousand feet of wire, which has then been recycled."

"Before long," says Acting Superintendent Randy King, "they will undoubtedly have enough experience, and knowledge of the resources and operations at Mount Rainier, to serve as its superintendent! We have no doubt that, if needed, they would promptly volunteer. It is a pleasure and an inspiration to work with volunteers like Jim and Carol Miltimore. They inspire everyone around them through their tireless and selfless dedication and enthusiasm. They embody the spirit and mission of the National Park Service as well as any permanent employee. Their efforts are truly appreciated and valued."
The Miltimores' nomination will be reviewed by a committee in the Pacific West Region of the National Park Service and then, if selected, will be passed on for review at the national level. National award winners should be announced within the next month. Nominees will also be considered for further awards presented by the Take Pride in America organization.
Congratulations, Jim and Carol--and thank you, from the bottom of our hearts, for your friendship and hard work!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Volunteers help with snowshoe walks

My family and I visited Paradise yesterday--not for work, just to enjoy the beautiful day--but I couldn't resist capturing a few photos of the volunteers in action! Judy Kennedy and Judy Bell, who led the snowshoe walk my wife and I attended with a few friends, were just two of half a dozen volunteers on duty in and around the Jackson Visitor Center, including also Pete Sabin, Carol Quinn, and Jodie Hollinger-Lant. Kennedy presented an excellent interpretive snowshoe, and Bell followed our group as a "sweeper"--an important job with a large group like ours that included people with many different physical capabilities. Thanks, Judy and Judy, for a great day on the snow!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Next steps for ArrowCorps 502

If all goes well, in 2011, 502 members of the Boy Scouts' "Order of the Arrow" will come to Mount Rainier National Park and vicinity for a week of volunteer service, organized by local lodge number 502. This Friday, members of the group, including coordinators Bob Davies (bandaged from recent surgery in this photo) and Barb Maynes (kneeling), and youth leaders Matt Allyn (in the back row) and Evan Skandalis (kneeling), met with Acting Superintendent Randy King (far right) and Volunteer Program Manager Kevin Bacher (far left) to discuss details of the proposal and plans for carrying it out. If successful, the project--tentatively scheduled for the beginning of August next year--will be the largest single volunteer group ever to work at Mount Rainier.

In the meantime, a lot of planning has yet to be done, identifying projects, crew leaders, campsites, transportation, and other logistics. Because few volunteer opportunities at the park can accommodate anything close to the number of people who may participate, we'll be looking at ways to divide the group into smaller teams working all over the park, and in fact also on adjacent Forest Service land and with partners such as the Washington Trails Association.

Stay tuned for more information as plans are worked out; and meanwhile, you can learn more about "Arrow Corps 502" on their website and in previous blog entries.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Rare birds photographed over Paradise

On this sad day (see my previous post), I want to share with you something more--what, uplifting? Entertaining? It brought a smile to my face and I hope it does for you as well.

I received in the mail last week a color copy of a full-page advertisement spotted by one of our retired park service employees and volunteers, Duane Nelson. Here is a similar version of the image from the website of Lane Powell Attorneys & Counselors:

Duane writes:

"I recently was sitting in a doctor's office thumbing through a magazine entitled Seattle Business. I came across this advertisement displaying a flight of birds with Pinnacle and Plummer Peaks in the background (Know The Landscape). Never, however, in all my travels at Mt. Rainier have I seen these type of birds. Maybe I spent too many years on the north side. Maybe the climate is really warming up and many different species are now appearing. A good chance for you and [your family] to discover them this coming summer. Then you can tell me next September what new species you have seen."

Thanks for the smile, Duane!

Sad news from Oregon

All weekend, I've been hearing news about a missing hiker in the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon whose name sounded uncomfortably familiar. This morning my fears were confirmed: the missing woman, whose body was found late Saturday at the base of a cliff near Table Mountain, is Kate Huether, a former Mount Rainier volunteer and SCA intern who worked with us through the summer of 2006.

We originally hired Kate as one of our 12-week summer interns, working in a position jointly supervised by our interpretation and maintenance programs, to help with exhibit installation and trail marking as the snow melted out in the spring on the trails high above Paradise. After her term ended, she stayed on as a volunteer for another month, through September, in love with the high country and her job in it. For many of us here at Mount Rainier, she was a valued coworker and friend.

Like so many of our interns, Kate went on to other great adventures after her time at the park. She was a student of environmental studies Portland State University when she went for a hike more than a week ago, on March 4, and didn't return. She had planned a trip to Chile this summer. She was just 24 years old.

Our thoughts and prayers are with Kate's family and friends.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Spring Volunteer Brunch set for May 8 at Tacoma Mountaineers Clubhouse

It's hard to believe, but the vernal equinox is now barely a week and a half away! The summer volunteer season cannot be far behind. To that end, it's time to announce this year's Spring Volunteer Brunch, sponsored by the Tacoma Mountaineers. It's been on the calendar for a  long time (since last year, actually), but due to a computer glitch, had dropped off our online calendar page. Thanks to Amy Mann for noticing the omission; it's now back online, along with this official announcement.

Are you interested in volunteering at Mount Rainier? Do you have questions about what's available and what's involved? This year there are more ways to volunteer than ever, and as we get closer to summer, the calendar will fill up rapidly with specific projects and events. Come learn all about it at this event sponsored and organized by volunteers themselves:

May 8, Saturday, 9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. – Potluck Brunch hosted by the Tacoma Branch Hiking & Backpacking Committee and the Mount Rainier Volunteers In Parks (VIPs), at the Tacoma clubhouse, 2302 N. 30th Street, Tacoma, WA 98403. All Mountaineers members, as well as Non-Members, are welcome to attend this event to find out about volunteering at Mount Rainier National Park and to help the Park VIPs 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, and at the VIP blog.

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 Mount Rainier National Park. 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 Carol Berry,, 253-845-9297, Amy Mann,, 253-759-2796, Martha Scoville,, 253-752-5014.

We coulda been a contender... Disney Day promotion reaches 1,000,000 volunteers!

This winter, the Disney company established a unique promotional opportunity that I'd love to see replicated as many places a possible. For one day of volunteer service, you could earn a one-day pass to any of the Disney theme parks. They committed to rewarding one million volunteers in this manner.

What a great deal! All you had to do was to get your favorite volunteer site (say, Mount Rainier National Park) to sign up as a sponsor; then get them to advertise a public volunteer project; register on Disney's website; spend a day doing productive, rewarding work; and then, when your participation is confirmed by us, receive your certificate to go meet Mickey!

And, in fact, we did sign up for the program, and were eager to participate this spring, when enough snow finally melted to permit group volunteer projects to resume. Unfortunately--or maybe it's really a good thing, in the big picture--so many people have volunteered that Disney has already reached the one million mark, two months before our first volunteer projects! The program is now essentially closed. Disney's "volunteer portal" now reads:
One million people have now either committed or completed their service through opportunities found at via the Volunteer Opportunity Portal.... Volunteer can no longer search or sign up for opportunities at Now that the program has ended, Volunteers who have not yet committed to an upcoming opportunity (even if they've expressed interest, scheduled a time to volunteer, or served with you) will no longer be able to sign up and qualify for a ticket.
The Disney Parks website says:
Hats off to each of the one million volunteers! The overwhelming support we received... has helped us reach our goal of inspiring one million people to volunteer a day of service to their communities. The program has now ended. Although you can no longer register and sign up for volunteer opportunities on this site to earn a free Disney Theme Park ticket, you can still continue to give back to your community by locating and signing up for volunteer opportunities through HandsOn Network.
Whether you're recognizing the spirit of volunteerism or a special occasion like a birthday or anniversary, only one question remains, What Will You Celebrate?
Nicely said, and a tip o' the hat for continuing to encourage people to volunteer even after the promotion has ended.
We had 1,865 volunteers at Mount Rainier last year. We coulda qualified for at least a busload's worth o' those million tickets, maybe taken a grand road trip south from Washington state when the snow started flying again next winter...
If I had been more on top of things, I should have at least pointed out the opportunities to you all that may have been advertised by our partners at lower elevations. But even as optimistic as I've learned to be about volunteers, I never imagined the tickets would go so quickly!
Ah, well. Kudos to Disney for such a grand and audacious celebration of volunteerism (and very likely a savvy business move as well). And good work, all million of you who turned out in such force to show your volunteer spirit in the middle of winter! You are truly the most magical people on earth.

Emergency Roadside Assistance volunteers now being sought for Paradise

Spend your summer assisting visitors in Paradise! More than million visitors pass through Paradise, in Mount Rainier National Park, every year. We're seeking two volunteers to help keep things running smoothly by helping with lockouts, jump starts, breakdowns, and emergencies, while helping visitors enjoy their visit. It's hard work, in one of the most beautiful places on Earth!

Apply online at

Provide Emergency Roadside Assistance to visitors within Mount Rainier National Park for the Visitor Services and Resource Protection Division.

  1. Operate a small truck or van on park roads;
  2. Provide battery jumps;
  3. Assist with vehicle lockouts (tools and training provided);
  4. Request tow trucks through Communication Center via park radio (portable radio provided);
  5. Assist Rangers with traffic control in the Visitor Center Parking Lot and along Roadside;
  6. Provide emergency gas; assist with tire change; and other minor problems;
  7. Report accidents, incidents, hazards, or suspicious activity to Park Rangers.
Anticipated results:
As a member of the Park’s Ranger Protection Team you will be provided a unique experience to assist park visitors, provide emergency roadside assistance, and help contribute to the protection and preservation of park resources.

Qualifications for the job:
  1. Valid driver license required. The incumbent will be operating a government vehicle.
  2. Must have basic mechanical and maintenance skills.
  3. Must be able to pass a background check.
  4. Willingness to assist with traffic control on park roads and parking lots.
  5. Must be able to interact with visitors in a friendly and helpful manner. Sometimes these contacts will be under stressful situations.
  6. Must be willing to use a park radio and communicate effectively and clearly with staff and the public.
  7. The ability to work without direct supervision.
  8. Ability to work outside in proximity to vehicles in cold, wet, snowy conditions at altitudes up to 5400’.
  1. VIPs will document ALL volunteer work and services provided. This means effectively communicating with park dispatch and other ranger staff the services provided and assistance needed (law enforcement, tow truck, medical services, etc.). Volunteers will provide a weekly log of hours and services provided and turn it in to the supervisor at the end of each week.
  2. Work within parameters of this position description unless change is documented by your supervisor.
  3. Have a dedication to protection of the park mission and park resources.
Volunteer will participate in park orientation session; safety training; maintenance procedures; on-the-job training; other training as designated by supervisor.
  1. Housing, if needed, for volunteers working a minimum of 32 hours per week;
  2. Coverage for tort liability and on the job injury available through VIP Program;
  3. Uniform and government vehicle provided;
  4. Waiver of park entry/camping fees;
  5. Be part of “Making a Difference” with a rewarding position within the ranger division of Mount Rainier.
Approximately June 1 through September 15, 2010.
Jordan Mammel, West Side Law Enforcement Ranger - (360) 569-2211 ext. 6073,
Park Contact for VIP Questions:
Kevin Bacher, Volunteer Program Manager, 360-569-2211 ext. 3385,
Please note: All volunteers driving government vehicles must have valid driver license and written authorization from supervisor before driving. This position may require a background check.