Read about Jim & Jackie Garrow's Volunteering Experience
Everyone who has volunteered knows the obvious rewards - self-satisfaction and the feeling that you've made a positive contribution. My husband and I had logged a few volunteer hours before retirement. In addition to school, church and community ventures with our children, over the years we also worked with Habitat for Humanity, veterans groups, special needs kids and HIV/AIDS babies. So when we retired and became full-time RV-ers, it seemed natural to continue donating time to a worthy cause. That's how we connected with Vermont State Parks' Volunteer Program.
Like most state park systems, Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation relies heavily on volunteer assistance. Your contribution can be as varied as your individual skills, talents and interests. We chose to live in our RV onsite in exchange for 30 total hours per week commitment. So how has our experience been and what can you expect if you volunteer?
We think park staff are pretty special folks. Whether career public servants, second-career retirees, PhD's or students, we found one thing in common - they love the land, and embrace their mission to preserve Vermont's cultural and natural resources. If you like meeting people, you'll also enjoy greeting visitors or helping with park programs and events. We made some great friends, and got to use our extensive customer service experience.
Each park is a unique and exceptional gem to appreciate. Lovingly preserved historic structures, deliciously challenging hikes to "secret" places, awesome wildlife encounters, beautiful beaches and boating adventures are all part of the Vermont Parks experience. Volunteers are admitted free to Vermont parks and state-owned historic sites. With more than 50 parks to see and explore on off-duty days, you can see why we keep coming back!
Learn and Grow
Park operations are anything but boring - a typical day can include accounting, facilities and trail maintenance, interpretive programs, research for history or nature programs, visitor registration, or even teaching first-time campers the fine are of constructing s' mores. If you can't learn something new in this environment, you are my hero! In a complex operation like a park there are always chores, but there is also time for you to pursue projects that suit your personal interests.
Make a Difference
We all know the good feeling that comes from working hard toward a meaningful goal. We found great satisfaction in performing maintenance to protect structures built in the 1930's by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC in Vermont State Parks), or planting flowers and trees that will please park visitors in the coming years. I like to believe that every volunteer hour donated in a park results in hundreds of hours of future enjoyment. Consider how the vast total legacy of volunteers in Vermont State Parks must be!
Living in a Park
Why do you camp in the first place? Imagine that "home" for your volunteer commitment is a place you'd choose to visit on a camping trip. Enough said.
Other perks of the volunteer program include: partial-to-full hookups at no charge; propane gas as needed; uniform shirts and identification; other discounted admissions; and, recognition (we really do love a pat on the back now and then, don't we?).
All in all, we have enjoyed a positive experience as Volunteers in Vermont State Parks.
Jackie & Jim Garrow,
Volunteers in Vermont State Parks