Friday, February 13, 2015

Volunteers: Share Your Story for the Park Service Centennial!

Did you know that the National Park Service will be 100 years young next year? That's 100 years of inspiring people from all over the world with the most extraordinary landscapes and historical events our country has to offer!

In the twelve years I've served with the Volunteer Program at Mount Rainier, I've learned that almost everyone I encounter has a story related to this Mountain. I hear them every time someone calls to ask about volunteering. They tell me about the time they went hiking at Paradise, or the bear they met at Summerland. They have a passion for this place. Sometimes that connection goes back generations. "My family has been camping at Ohanapecosh since my grandfather was a boy," they'll say; or, "My grandmother's ashes are scattered near Round Pass."

My experience is no different. I grew up in love with the natural world, but it was a trip to Crater Lake National Park as a child that sparked in me a sense of awe for wild places. A high school teacher who'd been a seasonal ranger at Crater Lake encouraged me to pursue a job with the National Park Service. When I found my way to Mount Rainier as a seasonal ranger in 1994, I also met my future wife, fell in love hiking to Indian Bar and gazing at stars on Backbone Ridge, and proposed at Ohanapecosh. Countless wilderness adventures have deepened my love for this place and for the National Park Service that protects it, and for the people who help, whether they wear the uniforms of paid employees, volunteers, or park partners.

Now, there's a way to share your story with others! The National Park Service has set up a Google site to capture people's stories. I'd love for them to include the experiences of park volunteers! What inspired you to give back? How has volunteering deepened your love for national parks?

Here's a link to the Share Your Story Google site. I look forward to reading what you have to say!

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