This week I sat in on the Intermountain Volunteer Engagement Strike Team (InVEST) conference meetings which lasted three days here at the Intermountain Regional Office. The group was composed of IMR park volunteer coordinators, SCA Centennial Volunteer Ambassadors, and our interpretation and education leadership team at IMRO. The group discussed the future of volunteer programs in parks and shared ideas about how each park’s volunteer program operates and what can be done to enhance programs throughout the region.
We had representatives from Glacier National Park, Petrified Forest National Park, Grand Canyon National Park, San Antonio Missions National Historic Park, Rocky Mountain National Park, Washita Battlefield National Monument, the Pacific West Region and the National Capital Region. Each park had a short presentation of what they offer volunteers as far as actual projects, work, and rewards. The group set a plan for sharing these ideas and mentoring new coordinators in the region to help programs get off the ground. For some people, being a volunteer coordinator is a collateral duty, making it much more difficult to establish and manage a large program.
Another highlight of the week was when I went to an elementary school’s family night to pass out Every Kid in a Park passes to 4th graders. The EKIP program allows 4th graders and their families to visit public lands for free for an entire year. The new passes were a surprise to many who had not heard of the second-year program. It is a great way to provide access to populations that would not otherwise visit or be exposed to public lands. It was fun to see the kids get excited to take their families to their local national parks. This week would have been my last as an LHIP intern, but since I have been extended at the IMRO, I will have a few more adventures to share until mid-November.