Wednesday, May 21, 2014

MVP Crow Vecchio

Crow in one of her field
offices at Sunrise
Our feature volunteer for May is Petrina “Crow” Vecchio who is and has been involved in many aspects of the Park’s volunteer program.

Crow got interested in volunteering at Mt. Rainier when she was a young child. Her uncle was a Ranger at Lake James who took her with him (with the superintendent’s permission, of course) on a tour of duty. “I fell in love with Carbon River right then. I always knew I wanted to work in the Park.”

She officially started volunteering in the Park in the late 70s. Prior to that, she has a history of helping any visitors planning hikes or needing help with plant identification. She worked at the Carbon River Entrance/Mowich winter and summer for three years, and the winter duty was the “most glorious assignment” she ever had. She would snowshoe in to her cabin assignment for 10 days at a shot where the temperature inside was usually colder than outdoors. She would take a chair outside in the snow, all bundled up, and sit there in the sun reading in temperatures as low as 17 degrees!

These days she is busier than ever working in the Volunteer office, and is also a member of the Park’s Safety Committee. She writes a regular column on the Park’s Facebook page as well as blogging on the Volunteer blog. Crow has edited material for handbooks and handouts, plus she has written some of the material. She is very involved in the cleanup and restoration of the Longmire Stewardship Campground and leads the Mt. Rainier Volunteer crew Adopt a Highway Litter Patrol! One of her most interesting assignments was to find a “lost” hydroelectric dam on the Paradise River so that it could be taken off the Federal Register. Yes, she found it! According to Crow, she will turn down no assignment except plumbing! She did enough of it at Carbon River and claims she will NEVER do plumbing again!

What satisfies her most is working for “my Mountain”. “If I have a purpose it is to make people aware of Nature any way I can, whether that’s with photos and descriptions of lichens, talking to them about the Wonderland Trail” … all part of the legacy she hopes to leave behind!

Crow also volunteers in other nature programs such as the Nisqually Land Trust and the Invasive Plant Council.

When she is not volunteering she is an avid kayaker, bicyclist, hiker, Angry Birds fan, Trekkie, mom to two cats and has studied crows and ravens all her life, hence the nickname Crow.

On a special note, as a volunteer she participated in the Park’s Winter Fitness Challenge, packing in 1514.5 aerobic-equivalent miles from January 7 to March 30! This earned her the title of “Iron Ranger” as she outpaced National Park employees from throughout Washington State!

- Jean Millan

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