Volunteers in Alaska's Parks
Do you enjoy helping people, sharing your skills and talents? Do you like to spend time outdoors? Then Alaska State Parks has a place for you. There are positions for Volunteers in Parks (VIP) statewide, from the rain forests and fjords of southeast Alaska, to the salmon streams of the Kenai Peninsula, to the rolling hills and birch forests of the Interior.
Alaska State Parks depends on volunteers to help manage and maintain the parks. Volunteers provide services that would not otherwise be offered. In turn, volunteers receive valuable training and experience for their service. There are several facets to the VIP program. Perhaps one of them is for you.
Full Time Summer Positions
Two catalogs are printed each year on available positions. One catalog lists campground host positions. Campground hosts live in the campground and assist the ranger with campground maintenance and visitor contact. The other catalog lists all other positions, such as:
Archaeological Assistant: Assist staff with various field investigations, including mapping, site documentation and artifact cataloging.
Trail Crew: Assist staff with maintaining and constructing trails and other facilities.
Ranger Assistant: Assist staff with public contacts, facility maintenance, and patrols.
Interpretive Assistant: Assist staff in providing tours and programs on natural and human history of the park.
Special Projects: Vary from year to year and are often geared towards college interns.
These positions offer some compensation for the time given. Uniforms, food stipend, and rustic housing are some of the benefits received. These positions are advertised nationally and are very attractive to non-residents. Volunteers are responsible for their own transportation to Alaska. Contact the volunteer coordinatior for one or both catalogs of jobs. See For More Information
Some people "drop in" to their local park office or ranger station and ask to volunteer. These people either have specific projects they would like to do or are open to staff suggestions and the need of the park. Some people are there only for a day and others return on a regular basis. Most of these volunteers work as they can, when they can. Past projects have varied from botanical studies of a park to weeding flower beds at a visitor center.
Park Watch was started in the fall of 1992 in response to the high rate of vandalism at trailheads and other facilities in Chugach State Park. The public response was overwhelming - over 70 people signed up to participate in the program.
Orientations are set up for park watch training. Fund raising and donations, from businesses and individuals, purchase field equipment, most recently a pair of radios. Through the Park Watch Coordinator, itself a volunteer position, teams of trained volunteers are scheduled to watch a facility for a certain time period.
An extension of the program is Park Watch Neighbors, for those who live near park facilities. Emphasis, so far, has been at Hillside locations in Chugach State Park. Those involved in the program hope to see it expand throughout Chugach and into other state parks as well. The foundation of Park Watch is to deter crime, not to catch criminals.
Various parks will set aside certain days as work days to accomplish certain tasks. REI Trail Days in Chugach State Park and Clean Up Day on the Kenai River are examples.
March for Parks
March for Parks began in the Lower 48. Alaska State Parks joined in the spring of 1991. Each year, volunteers obtain pledges for their march along Turnagain Arm Trail from Potter to McHugh. Approximately $1,300 has been raised each year, with the assistance of Friends of Chugach State Park and the National Parks & Conservation Association. All funds have gone to the Park Watch program.
Chugach State Park started this program in 1992. Organizations sign an agreement to maintain trails. The agreement states how Parks will support the group and what maintenance work the group will do. Anchorage Snowmobile Club, King Career Center - ASD, REI, and Mountain Bike Division of the Arctic Bike Club are some of the associations who have signed on.
For a number of years, Alaska State Parks have been host to Youth Services International (YSI) - formerly Operation Raleigh. YSI arranges trips and projects for groups of young people throughout the world. In Alaska State Parks, they have done a variety of tasks; trail maintenance, cabin and bridge building are a few.
Boy Scouts have helped with various projects for State Parks. Often, a Boy Scout member will organize a trail project to earn his eagle patch.
Throughout the state, there are "Friends of" organizations for a particular park. (ie. Friends of Chugach State Park, Friends of Independence Mine State Historic Park). These organizations perform tasks limited only by the group's imagination. Trail work, fund raising and interpretive programs are only a few of the benefits Alaska State Parks have received from these people.
Citizen Advisory Boards
Some parks have citizen advisory boards. Members of these boards volunteer their time and are chosen through an established process. These boards assist the park staff in management decisions and bridge the gap between park staff and park users.
Alaska State Parks Foundation
The Foundation is a private, non-profit corporation. As with citizen advisory boards, Foundation board members volunteer their time and are chosen through an established process. Through the Foundation, people can volunteer their time and skills, whether professional, artistic or other, to Alaska State Parks.
For More Information
Whatever your interests or talents, you can be a part of the protection and preservation of a small piece of this incredible land called Alaska. Most of our volunteers must be 18, but there are exceptions. For more information on the VIP program contact your local park office or the volunteer coordinator:
Volunteer Coordinator - (907) 762-2612