Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Japan Volunteers-in-Parks Association nominated for national volunteer service award

For twenty years, students from Waseda University in Tokyo have been coming to Mount Rainier National Park to volunteer. Now, the park is nominating the Japan Volunteers-in-Parks Association for a George Hartzog Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service, in recognition of their work. Nominations for this award are submitted by parks around the country and face stiff competition, but we feel that J-VIPA stands an excellent chance of receiving national recognition for their efforts.

We've written a lot on these blog pages about J-VIPA over the years; but now we'd like to share with you the things that make them the worthy recipient of an award presented by the Director of the National Park Service. Here is exhibit A, a letter of support from our Superintendent, Randy King:

February 25, 2014

In 1994, a group of students from Waseda University in Tokyo came to Mount Rainier National Park to serve as volunteers and built a brand new, wheelchair-accessible boardwalk and viewpoint at Kautz Creek. Twenty years later, the “Japan Volunteers in Parks Association” (JVIPA) has a legacy of more than 23,000 hours of service contributed by nearly 400 students and University staff. Their work on trails, viewpoints, campsites, picnic areas and natural landscapes can be seen all over the park. Many of the Mount Rainier staff have formed life-long friendships with members of the group.

JVIPA is one of the longest and most productive volunteer partnerships in Mount Rainier’s history. As they wrap up their time with the park and move on to other projects, it is impossible to overvalue their influence. Park staff have worked alongside them and hosted them in their homes. They have shared with the park a dedication to the mission of the National Park Service, improving facilities for today’s visitors, and restoring natural and cultural resources for future generations.

It would take many pages to list all of the things JVIPA accomplished over the past two decades, but I would just mention a few highlights. A few years ago, group members built an ADA-accessible trailhead at Paradise, dramatically improving access for visitors with mobility challenges to one of the park’s most beautiful wildflower meadows. The previous year, JVIPA arranged for the donation and construction of a $70,000 “Bio Toilet” at Cougar Rock Campground to demonstrate sustainable design. Hidden inside the structure are the signatures of the Japanese students who built it. Some projects have taken many years: construction of a trail at Round Pass, for example, and the rehabilitation of a viewpoint at Paradise. Many students have chosen to return multiple years at significant personal expense to see these projects through to completion.

Last summer, two dozen students, many of them alumni of earlier programs, a few now with children of their own, gathered for the last time at Mount Rainier. As they have always done, they stayed with host families (park employees and community members in Ashford and Eatonville), commuting daily to the park. They combined educational and recreational activities with hard work, including the construction of ten solid, historic-style picnic tables for our Longmire Stewardship Campground—tables that will be used by volunteers, school groups, tribal members and other park partners for decades to come.

Over the years, our partnership with JVIPA has led to other exchanges as well. Our education program has profited from an active (and ongoing) collaboration with teachers in Japan. Park managers and advocates have come to the U.S. from Japan, and the park has participated in conferences there in return. I had the great privilege of addressing such a group myself a few years ago, a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

The Volunteers-in-Parks program was established by Director George Hartzog as a means for including in the stewardship of the National Parks those for whom the parks were created. It is a tribute to George Hartzog’s legacy that these stewards include several hundred members of the International community who have donated twenty years of service and good will at Mount Rainier National Park through the Japan Volunteers-in-Parks Association. We are grateful for their hard work, and I am honored to recommend them for the George Hartzog Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service.


Randy King
Mount Rainier National Park 

Submitted along with Superintendent King's letter, here is the official nomination text. I've taken the liberty of inserting a few photos from J-VIPA projects over the years.

Brief Summary of Exceptional Accomplishments:

J-VIPA volunteers build picnic tables in the
Longmire Volunteer Campground in 2013
During the summer of 2013, 24 students from Waseda University in Tokyo came to Mount Rainier to participate in a project organized by the Japan Volunteers-in-Parks Association (J-VIPA). This year’s team contributed 384 hours to the park, including landscaping and grounds maintenance around the park’s Marine Memorial at Round Pass and construction of ten picnic tables built in the style of the historic Columbia Conservation Corps. Two children of J-VIPA members also participated in these projects.

This year’s volunteer effort marks the final year of a 20-year partnership with J-VIPA that began in 1994. Since that time, a total of 386 individual program participants have contributed 23,040 hours of voluntary service to the park, improving park facilities and the park’s natural and cultural resources (see details below). Some students have returned multiple years, traveling to the U.S. at their own expense for up to three weeks of volunteer service and staying with host families in communities around the park. The J-VIPA program is one of the largest and most enduring international volunteer partnerships in the National Park Service.

After 20 years, the J-VIPA program is retiring its partnership with Mount Rainier to focus on volunteer efforts closer to home, especially in the wake of Japan’s earthquake and tsunami in 2011. We seek to recognize them not only for their work in 2013, but for twenty years of sustained effort that has had a profound and positive effect on the park, its visitors, and its staff.

Magnitude of Work: What was the extent of the work accomplished? What made the work, project, contribution, or program exceptional? Was the program well-managed and efficient? In what ways did the nominee demonstrate creativity or originality?

A J-VIPA volunteer works on restoring a storm-damaged
campsite in the Ohanapecosh Campground in 2012
Every year, our program managers have set challenging goals for the J-VIPA volunteers, and every year they have risen to the challenge and met or exceeded expectations. J-VIPA volunteers have contributed 23,040 hours of service over the years.

Visitors can see J-VIPA’s contributions to Mount Rainier in almost every part of the National Park. J-VIPA volunteers planted, weeded, and repotted plants in the park’s greenhouse. They removed invasive species along the Westside Road and planted native species at Paradise. They built an accessible boardwalk and viewpoint at Kautz Creek in 1994, and rebuilt it in 2005 after it was damaged by flooding. They built historic-style picnic tables at the Longmire Stewardship Campground in 2013. In 2008 J-VIPA members helped build and dedicate a prototype composting toilet at Cougar Rock Campground, donated by Groundwork Mishima, an environmental organization in Japan. They improved the popular Nisqually Vista viewpoint at Paradise in 2000, and in 2009 built a paved, wheelchair-accessible trailhead for the Skyline Trail behind the Jackson Visitor Center. Over the years they rehabilitated and rebuilt picnic sites at Paradise and campsites at Cougar Rock, Ohanapecosh, and White River in response to long-term use and storm damage, and built, improved, and maintained miles of trail all over the park.

The managers of the J-VIPA program, notably its director, Hiro Yamaguchi, have spent twenty years creating a highly successful program that runs smoothly and efficiently despite the significant challenges inherent to an international program. Every year, Hiro works with the staff of Mount Rainier National Park to organize volunteer projects, satisfy visa requirements, and arrange host families. He has built a program that creatively combines service work with educational and recreational field trips, potlucks, and other opportunities for the students to learn about the Unite States. Over the past two decades, 386 students have participated in the program, some of them multiple times, including 24 in 2013.

J-VIPA is exceptional as a model for long-term international volunteer service. I know of no other program in the National Park Service that has maintained such a high level of participation over such a long period of time.

Meeting the Mission: How has the volunteer, group, or program improved conditions for the park facilities or operations, resources and/or visitors? How did the nominee support the NPS mission?

In 2009, J-VIPA crew members built a new ADA-accessible
trailhead at Paradise that bypasses these steps
This year’s students contributed much-needed landscaping and general maintenance to a memorial marker along the park’s Westside Road, and constructed ten historic-style picnic tables for our volunteer campground. As described in greater detail in the previous section, this year’s efforts are merely the latest in twenty years of sustained service, which have improved visitor facilities throughout the park, including trails, boardwalks, picnic areas, campgrounds, and viewpoints. They’ve restored and rehabilitated both historic and natural landscapes scarred by time, flooding, and human activity.

It is safe to say that a high percentage of our visitors make use of facilities built or maintained by the J-VIPA program – whether it’s stopping at the popular Kautz Creek viewpoint built in 1994, or camping at Longmire or Ohanapecosh in sites restored in 2012 and 2013, or enjoying picnic areas, trails, or natural landscapes constructed or rehabilitated over the twenty years of our partnership.

Challenges: Describe any challenges the nominee may have faced.

J-VIPA members in traditional costumes pose with park
staff and host families at their farewell party in 2007

Hiro Yamaguchi and his staff have worked with program managers at Mount Rainier National Park to coordinate and organize three-week volunteer projects for teams of up to two dozen students every year for twenty years. They’ve come up with new projects every year that make significant contributions to the park and its visitors, and they’ve also built educational and recreational activities into each program.

In addition, any international program inherently involves additional challenges. Hiro has worked patiently with the U.S. State Department and the National Park Service’s Office of International Affairs to comply with ever-changing standards for obtaining international visas. He’s coordinated dozens of flights between Tokyo and Seattle, moving hundreds of student volunteers back and forth across the Pacific and then on to host families and daily work sites.

Mount Rainier’s staff has changed frequently over the years, so J-VIPA’s managers have worked with a long series of Superintendents, supervisors, and volunteer coordinates to keep the program running. And because Mount Rainier doesn’t have enough housing within the park for groups of up to two dozen volunteers, Hiro and his staff have arranged for park employees and community members to host students in their homes, in the process enhancing opportunities for cross-cultural experience and education for everyone involved.

Partnerships: How did the project or program build partnerships or boost public interest? Please explain.

The BioToilet at Cougar Rock
Campground is inscribed with the
signatures of the J-VIPA members
who helped build it in 2008
Mount Rainier National Park’s partnership with the J-VIPA program is unique in the number of international volunteers and volunteer hours that it has generated over a sustained 20-year period. The program has also inspired numerous additional partnerships over the years, including the following:
  • Over the winter of 2002-2003, Mount Rainier’s Superintendent and Chief of Interpretation were invited to Japan to participate in a conference discussing issues facing national parks in both countries. The participants in this conference included two agencies (Japan’s Ministry of Environment and New Zealand’s Department of Conservation), two conservation organizations (Fujisan Club and Washington’s National Park Fund), and a university (Tokyo’s Waseda University).
  • During the summer of 2003, several members of Tokyo’s Fujisan Club visited Mount Rainier. The group is dedicated to protecting the natural areas surrounding Mount Fuji (which was designated a “sister mountain” to Mount Rainier all the way back in 1936). Over a period of several days, the visiting Fujisan members explored Mount Rainier’s trails, visited its facilities, and met with its managers to discuss common issues of resource protection, visitor service, and volunteerism.
  • From time to time, J-VIPA volunteers have stayed on or arrived early to serve as individual volunteers at Mount Rainier. In 2007, for example, Tamaki Yasuoka spent three weeks working with the park’s interpretation and education programs.
  • In 2008, Groundwork Mishima, a Japanese environmental organization, donated a prototype “BioToilet” to Mount Rainier to demonstrate sustainable park management practices. The high-tech bathroom, still in use at Cougar Rock Campground, operates with almost no maintenance or effluent.
  • Mount Rainier’s education program spent several years working with teachers in Japan to develop curricula that could be used in both Japan and the U.S. to teach students about volcanoes by comparing and contrasting the geology and cultural significance of Mount Rainier and Mount Fuji. The project culminated in a visit to the U.S. by six Japanese educators in 2010, and a trip to Japan by our staff in 2012, to share and compare and resources and training. (See
  • This spring—in March 2014—15 people will fly to Japan for a week-long cultural exchange, staying with host families and participating in two days of volunteer service at a site near Mount Fuji. The group is made up of members of Mount Rainier’s staff and surrounding community (some as young as age 13) who have worked with J-VIPA students during its 20 years here, and represents an opportunity for us to return the favor, in a very small way, for the many years of service the program’s members have donated to us. Planning for this trip has been going on between staff at Mount Rainier and the Ministry of Environment in Japan since 2012.
  • While J-VIPA has been working with us at Mount Rainier, they have also been increasingly active in volunteer efforts back home in Japan. This work accelerated and took on new urgency following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. J-VIPA students make expeditions (sometimes weekly) to communities hard-hit by the natural disaster, helping to rebuild homes and trail systems in coastal towns and parks.

After twenty years of service, J-VIPA is now wrapping up its partnership with Mount Rainier National Park and applying the lessons learned to build a vital volunteer program at home. Our own park, volunteer program, and community have all been enriched beyond measure, and it is for this reason that we nominate the Japan Volunteers-in-Parks Association for the 2013 Hartzog Volunteer Group Award.

Learn more about the Hartzog Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service, including last year's recipients of the award, on the National Park Service website.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Mount Rainier will be featured at a City Club luncheon on March 19

Painting by Allan Dreyer, Mount Rainier volunteer
Washington's National Park Fund invites you to attend a luncheon program at the City Club of Tacoma, at which Randy King, Laurie Ward, and I will be the guest speakers. Tickets must be purchased in advance, and are $17 for City Club members and $23 for non-members. The luncheon will take place from 11:30 to 1:30 on March 19, 2014 at the Tacoma Art Museum, 1701 Pacific Avenue in Tacoma. Here's a description of the event, from the City Club's website:

Please join us for an uplifting presentation about the current state of our national parks in Washington. Mt. Rainier Superintendent Randy King, Laurie Ward, Executive Director from WNPF, and Ranger Kevin Bacher will talk about the current challenges, recent achievements and plans in the future.
RANDY KING: Randy King is the current Superintendent of Mount Rainier National Park.He has worked all over the US, and even in a World Heritage Area exchange in Australia. Randy grew up in Michigan, and remembers spending most weekends outdoors with his family. Randy describes Mount Rainier National Park as “a powerful place that encompasses all you would expect from a national park.” He likes to get outside as much as possible, and still goes out to hike with his family almost every weekend.
KEVIN BACHER: Kevin Bacher is the Volunteer and Outreach Program Manager at Mount Rainier National Park. He has a Master's Degree in Natural Resource Management from Cornell University, and has been working for the National Park Service since volunteering at the Grand Canyon in 1986.
LAURIE WARD: Laurie Ward is the Executive Director of Washington’s National Park Fund, where she has served since spring, 2010. She has a Master’s in Education from the University of Wisconsin. In her free time, she and her husband enjoy hiking in our national parks and forests with their yellow lab, Brady.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Calling all Snow Rovers to a Winter Wonderland at Paradise

As many of you probably know, over the past week and a half Paradise has gotten a lot of new snow. When I took the total measurement on Sunday morning, the reading was 177 inches. The snow was still falling as the wind blew it into the already covered trees, creating a scene as picturesque as the inside of a snow globe. With all this new snow, there is even more fun to be had out on the trails volunteering with the snow rover program!

Contact Ben Monroe at to sign up to volunteer!

Citizen scientists join NASA to predict snow melt and wildflower bloom

Citizen Scientist Karen Murante collects
MeadoWatch data on Mazama Ridge in 2013
Last summer, 48 volunteers participated in our new citizen science program called "MeadoWatch," collecting about 17,000 data points on the timing of flowering plants at Paradise. This winter, the program's coordinators, Janneke Hille Ris Lambers and Jessica Lundquist at the University of Washington and Regina Rochefort at North Cascades National Park, received a grant from NASA's Applied Sciences division to study ways of combining these data with satellite imagery to forecast dates of snow melt and peak flower bloom. Such information would help managers at Mount Rainier National Park to set spring schedules, including plowing, facility opening, trail maintenance, and the timing of meadow restoration, and would help park visitors to plan the timing of sightseeing and backcountry hiking. Researchers would also be able to use these forecast models to project future impacts from global climate change, including the effects on plant communities and wildlife activity. Community groups like the Mountaineers and Washington Trails Association could benefit from such information as well.

NASA's grant program seeks to find useful ecological or natural resource management applications for its Earth observation products, in combination with biological observations by citizen scientists. The grant will fund a one-year feasibility study, which could be followed by three years of additional funding if the first year produces promising results.

In our case, the project is based on four premises:
  1. Snow disappearance can be forecast from MODIS Snow Cover imagery, captured by satellite, in combination with SNOTEL data collected at the Paradise weather station.
  2. Snow disappearance influences the timing of wildflower bloom. (Previous research by Elli Theobold, beginning in 2002, has shown a strong correlation between the two.)
  3. Quantifying wildflower "phenology" (the dates of budding, flowering, and setting seed) is feasible through Citizen Science.
  4. Natural resource management and conservation would be improved by a better understanding of the dates of snow disappearance and wildflower bloom.
In addition to the research conducted by citizen scientists at Mount Rainier last summer, Lambers and others have used "geotagged" photos on the popular photo service Flickr to add data points to their study. Most digital photos today include embedded information about when they were taken, and embedded location data are becoming more and more common as well, especially in images taken with smartphones. The researchers were able to find more than 2,000 photos on Flickr that included both date and location data, allowing them to collect "crowd-sourced" information about when and where the flowers had bloomed.

NASA imagery from January 2014
(for a comparison with 2013, see the
Cliff Mass weather blog.)
Over the next year, with the help of NASA funding, the UW researchers will develop and validate models for forecasting snow disappearance and wildflower phenology, using NASA satellite imagery, climate station data, remote microclimate sensors, MeadoWatch data, crowd-sourced photography, and previous research. They will also try to develop new products that are both feasible and helpful for decision-making. If these efforts are successful, the next step will be to refine the models and develop methods of automating them through remote sensing.

Meanwhile, volunteer will continue to be a key component of the research. This summer, MeadoWatch volunteers will return to the Paradise trails to watch and document the flowers as they bud, bloom, and set seeds. These ground-based, human-gathered data will be combined with high tech satellite imagery to come up with new ways of understanding our world.

If you'd like to participate in the MeadoWatch program, visit the project website at, or contact Anna Wilson, MeadoWatch coordinator, at You can also upload your own wildflower photos to the group's Flickr page at

Here is the original project proposal that won the NASA grant:

Snow, Montane Wildflowers, and Citizen Scientists
HilleRisLambers, Lundquist & Rochefort

Proposal Summary
The timing of key life events like reproduction (i.e. phenology) is tightly linked to climate. For example, alpine wildflowers emerge and flower within a few weeks of snow disappearance, and complete their life‐cycles before first frost in early autumn. Because annual variability in snow disappearance is large, the timing of seasonal wildflower displays also varies annually, influencing visitation and staffing needs within parks. Additionally, as climate change causes earlier snow disappearance, wildflowers that cannot shift their phenology to match this altered “climate window” may decline. Thus, resource managers and conservation biologists need the ability to seasonally forecast snow disappearance and wildflower phenology as well as monitor their long‐term annual trends to better conserve and manage high mountain wildflower meadows.

To address these issues, we propose to combine MODIS‐based images of snow covered area (SCA), citizen science observations and models to develop decision‐making tools at Mt. Rainier National Park (Washington). Specifically, we will develop and validate snow models driven by MODIS SCA and daily observations of temperature, precipitation and snow (from a SNOTEL climate station) that generate spatially explicit forecasts of snow disappearance date. Next, we will use date‐stamped photos of wildflowers from photo‐sharing websites to develop phenological forecasts driven by snow disappearance date. Phenological models will be validated with data from an existing citizen science program, which will be expanded in scope to meet monitoring goals. Finally, we will partner with the National Park Service to create a long‐term monitoring program of snow dynamics and wildflower phenology. Operationally, these estimates will 1) help managers plan where and when trail maintenance, conservation/restoration activities, and monitoring can occur, 2) allow visitors to better plan trips to view and photograph wildflowers, and eventually, 3) help resource managers identify the climatic and biological signs of climate change.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Mount Rainier seeks volunteer climbing rangers

Come experience YOUR National Parks! Mount Rainier is seeking volunteers for the 2014 Climbing Ranger Program. Volunteers will perform duties related to resource education and protection, visitor services, and hiker/climber safety.

  1. Participate in search and rescue operations throughout the park. These include searches, rescues, and body recoveries for lost, injured, and deceased persons. Volunteers will participate and train in areas of technical rope rescue, land search, helicopter operations, and avalanche rescue.
  2. Climbing volunteers participate in patrols of various routes on the mountain within the volunteer’s skill level.
  3. Volunteers may staff the high camps (Muir and Schurman).
  4. Assist in resource protection efforts (including human waste management at high camp facilities).
  5. Staff ranger stations and issue climbing and wilderness use permits, and disseminate information related to the park, including climbing, weather, safety, and climbing route information.
What we provide:
  1. Housing in the park;
  2. Food Stipend ($20/day)
  3. Paid during rescues ($ depends on duties)
  4. All the equipment
  5. Training in technical SAR, EMS, ICS, etc
  6. Strong leadership, a great team, and a fun place to live, work, and play!
Qualifications / Requirements:
  1. Mountaineering experience (glacial and ice-climbing)
  2. Technical SAR experience
  3. EMT or WFR (current)
  4. Avalanche (AIRE 2 preferred)
  5. Intermediate to advanced skier or splitboarder
  6. A commitment from April 14 – Sept 1st
Interested folks should send a resume and a list of significant climbing/outdoor accomplishments to: Questions? Call 360-569-6644.

Great history resources for National Park volunteers

In my in box this week is word of a pair of new websites, assembled by volunteers, that compile historical resources about national parks across the country. Mount Rainier is well-represented, and this is an excellent resource for volunteers who'd like to learn more about our park! I'll let Park Planner Mary Lucid explain the details:

I am forwarding weblink information below to you for two new websites, both developed by retired NPS historian, Harry Butowsky.

The links are: continues the legacy of the NPS History e-Library, linking to over 6500 NPS and park-related documents, some rare and not otherwise easily available. New content includes a large collection of past issues of NPS Courier, In Touch, CRM, and an ever-expanding collection of park brochures, with new electronic documents being added regularly.

The companion Website,, will launch shortly, being the largest digital library of documents about Parks Canada and the Canadian National Park/Historic Site/Marine Conservation
Area System.

If you have non-proprietary documents you'd like to submit or to request hard-to-find NPS or Parks Canada published materials, Email Harry at:

If materials submitted contain sensitive materials not intended for public release, Harry will check with the appropriate NPS authorities to ensure that the proper safeguards are taken.  The work done on the NPS history in this website is done on a volunteer basis and has not received NPS or other government funding.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

More youth volunteer opportunities

It's that time of year when job opportunities are flying around everywhere. I tried to capture those targeted at youth in a previous post, but since then, others have come open, both at Mount Rainier and with some of our local partners. Consider this an addendum:

From District Interpreter Lee Snook, a position not yet advertised on the Student Conservation Association's website as of this writing, though it should be there soon: A Cultural Resource Intern. "Right now it is to work with our collections manager to archive items found in the museum, do an inventory of the National Archives in Seattle of items from Longmire, and do some research for Interpretation so we can create some vignettes for living history. We will also try to expose the intern to archaeology, historic landscape, and architecture."

The North Cascades Institute is recruiting high school students for its Youth Leadership Adventures program in June, July and August. Says Matt Kraska, Youth Ledership Instructor, "We seek to recruit deserving students who otherwise wouldn't have access to outdoor opportunities. North Cascades Institute’s Youth Leadership Adventures program provides educational wilderness trips to engage high school students in the natural world through education, conservation and stewardship. Trips take place in North Cascades National Park and Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.  During these courses students will learn how to canoe, camp, and backpack while completing service projects and receiving hands-on training in outdoor leadership, field science, communication skills and public speaking. This year we will be offering an 8-day Outdoor Leadership Course for 14-16 years olds and a 16-day Science and Sustainability Course for 16-18 year olds. The Science and Sustainability Course also includes a service project component when the students return to their home communities." The application deadline is March 28th.

Youth Leadership Adventures is also offering two undergraduate internships for the program this summer, and is recruiting alumni from similar programs.  Applications are due Feb 28th.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Secretary Jewell Redux

Secretary Jewell tours the Paradise
weather station with park scientist
Rebecca Lofgren
Completely coincidental to my recent blog posting about Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, the woman herself showed up outside my office less than a week later. She wasn't here to respond to my bit of journalism, but to talk with park staff about Climate Change, an issue that affects us pretty dramatically, with our 14,411-foot mountain and its 25 glaciers. Still, she made a point of poking her head in my door, shaking my hand (and yes, she remembered me from her visit to the park as a volunteer seven years ago), and asking me about our youth volunteer outreach.

You can read a couple of stories about Jewell's visit to Rainier here, and here.

So, President Obama, when are you stopping by? My door is open!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Be a Champion: Volunteer!

Cliff Avril wants YOU to volunteer  in your community!
Oh, yes, how sweet it is for Pacific Northwesterners: the Seattle Seahawks are World Champions! But for those of us who have been following the team for some time, we've known these guys were champions all along. Consider:

Quarterback Russell Wilson volunteers weekly with his wife Ashton at Seattle Children's Hospital. In the off season, he hosts a youth football camp and donates the proceeds to the Charles Ray III Diabetes Association.

Running Back Derrick Coleman volunteered on the day before the Superbowl with the Starkey Hearing Foundation in New York.

Defensive End Cliff Avril shares something in common with yours truly: he is a volunteer recruiter, through the United Way, for the Seattle community. "We're trying to get more people out there to go and volunteer their time for youth... get guys out there to volunteer their time and tutor, mentor, and do a big thing for education," says Avril.

Defensive Back Kam Chancellor volunteered and donated to Seattle's Union Gospel Mission and hosted a toy drive this Christmas through his Kam Cares Foundation, established to support "programs that have a direct impact on the under-served and less fortunate."

Defensive Back Richard Sherman has volunteered with Football Camp for the Stars, a San Jose-based event for athletes with Down syndrome, and with the Special Olympics. His charity, Blanket Coverage, raises money for inner-city schools.

Offensive Lineman Russell Okung founded the Russell Okung UP Foundation, and volunteers regularly, "to give back to the community by reaching out to children of single parent homes while offering them hope through activities and information on the importance of a good education and social responsibility." He also volunteers with "We Day," an organization with the goal "to empower a generation to shift the world from 'me' to 'we'".

Fullback Michael Robinson and Wide Receiver Golden Tate volunteer with Treehouse for Kids, an organization that aims to provide foster children with "the opportunities and support they need to pursue their dreams and become productive members of our community." Robinson also volunteers with the Humane Society and sponsors the Excel 2 Excellence Foundation, "established to develop underprivileged youths with team work, leadership, and life skills."

Running Back Marshawn Lynch sponsors the Bay Area Fam 1st Family Foundation, "dedicated to uplifting and empowering youth in the Bay Area and throughout the United States... aiming to build self-esteem and academic learning skills in underprivileged youth."

Offensive Tackle Breno Giacomini sponsors and volunteers with American Football Without Barriers, an international nonprofit that hosts football camps and supports local charities that provide basic living needs.

Coach Pete Carroll works with the Seattle YMCA and the Seattle Youth Violence Prevention Initiative, and founded "A Better LA," which "aims to reduce gang violence in inner-city Los Angeles by empowering change from within the communities."

Many of these, like Mount Rainier National Park, are local community organizations that accept volunteer time from individuals, whether you're a Lombardi Trophy winner or an employee of Boeing or Starbucks. Anyone can be a World Champion and make a difference in someone's life through volunteering. As Russell Wilson says: "Why not you?"