Thursday, March 3, 2011

Maintaining and Sustaining

Last week I preached the wonders of outdoor summer employment. For those of you still not convinced, I offer more flexible opportunity. The National Park Service has volunteer work available across America. Have you ever dreamed of wrangling bears in Yosemite? Stomping out invasive species growth on the Boston Harbor Islands? As a "VIP" or Volunteer In Parks, you would be working side by side with NPS rangers as stewards of over 390 parks nationwide.
Your duties could include (and I pulled these right off of
  • Working at an information desk answering visitor questions
  • Presenting living history demonstrations in period costume
  • Building fences, painting buildings, and making cabinets
  • Giving guided nature walks and evening campfire programs
  • Assisting with preservation of museum artifacts
  • Maintaining trails and building boardwalks
  • Designing computer programs or park websites
  • Serving on a bike, horseback, or beach patrol
Doesn't that sound fun? You can get a volunteer application from, along with lists of parks that need help. If you are a young outdoor enthusiast interested in getting a foot in the door, the National Park Service hosts the Junior Ranger program. Junior Rangers have the chance to visit local parks, participate in games and scavenger hunts, and discovery the area's history. Home-bound kids can get a slice of the fun by becoming a web ranger, and participating in over fifty games and quizzes set up by

I stumbled upon another website specific to the Appalachian Trail. Appalachian Trail Conservancy ( offers many volunteer opportunities from Georgia to Maine. Join the maintenance clubs and corridor stewardship programs to keep trails hiker-friendly. If you're feeling extra ambitious, join part of the AT's trail crew, and take week long backcountry expeditions to relocate and rehabilitate portions of the trail. offers resources for workshops and training, and also provides volunteers and public with a monthly newsletter that displays excellent articles such as "Signboards and Privies and Bears... Oh My!"

Volunteering is rewarding and flexible, allowing you to fit some outdoor time into the smalls vacancies of your schedule. Help to keep America's trails and parks clean and visitor-friendly. And no matter how much the daily grinds bog you down, keep in mind to never stop playing!

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