by Kelly Sanderbeck, Donor Engagement Manager
It happens with you, because of you, and for YOU…
And this is how it works: Every year, we ask superintendents to submit proposals to us and rank projects that have no other funding. And every year, we set out to raise those funds. It definitely takes a village – from individuals, fundraising climbs, license plate program, corporations, Spring Dinner & Auction, foundations, workplace giving, lodge guest donations and community events – and we work with all of you to make it happen.
You choose to give to a specific project, specific park or to where it’s most needed. And at the end of the year, we add it all up and give that money back to the parks to make those projects happen. Sometimes a project doesn’t get fully funded, so we use monies from the Over the Top Society (individuals who give $1200+ per year, unrestricted) to make it happen.
This year YOU gave back $700,000 to the parks, a record-breaker for all of us. Because you GET it. Our federal government isn’t funding our parks as they need to be. So we’re taking care of them, together, here at home. We are the ‘public’ in public lands and we are in the forever business.
And here are some of the ‘winning’ projects!
- Personal Locator Beacons for rangers and Search and Rescue volunteers at Mount Rainier
- a new Emergency Operations Center at North Cascades
- restoration of the Long Ridge Trail leading up to the newly-preserved Dodger Point Lookout at Olympic
- the Latina Trail Crew at Mount Rainier:
On July 23rd, nine young girls (ranging in age from 13 to 16) embarked on an epic adventure at Mt. Rainier. We were stationed out of the White River campground and spent our days building trails, exploring rivers and contemplating the future of equity in the outdoors. Most of the participants hailed from the South Park neighborhood of Seattle and were alumni of the esteemed Duwamish Youth Corps. They had spent several months learning about environmental justice and community healing and were eager to take the lessons learned in South Park to the wild lands of Mt. Rainier.
Michelle Pinon, Latino Outdoors
- Wiping Out Weeds at North Cascades:
Stinky Bob is a state listed noxious weed and poses a major threat to native plant communities. It reproduces easily and germinates throughout the growing season, making it difficult to control. But because it is commonly found, it is ideal for a continuing volunteer and education program. Resource and Education staff will train campground hosts and local volunteers to identify and pull these weeds on a continuing basis. They, in turn, will lead school groups and other volunteer groups (such as Boy and Girl Scouts).
- the Night Skies Interpretation program at Olympic:
Volunteer John (Goar) has done a stellar job of introducing more than 7,000 visitors to the park after dark. Since 2010, he has presented 230 night sky programs, even supplying the telescopes and tripod-mounted binoculars for participants to use to view galaxies, star clusters, nebulae, supernova remnants and planets. In addition to the 1,500 hours he has devoted to astronomy programs and full moon walks, Goar has served 3,000 hours as a campground host.
Penny Wagner, Olympic National Park
- the Volunteer Program at Mount Rainier:
Another way to quantify the volunteer program is to say that last year, Mount Rainier National Park spent roughly $330,000 on volunteers and youth crews, including federal base funding, grants, and donations through Washington’s National Park Fund. This paid for my salary, SCA interns, youth crews through several organizations, and other volunteer program expenses including uniforms, housing, tools, radios, background checks, and vehicle rentals. In return, we worked with 2,172 volunteers and interns who contributed 81,978 hours of service, worth an estimated $1.98 million according to figures from The Independent Sector.
So: for every $1 contributed to our program, our volunteers and interns contribute $6 worth of work, become partners in the stewardship of their national parks, and have a fantastic experience doing so. You can’t beat the return on investment!
Kevin Bacher, Volunteer & Outreach Program Manager
And don’t forget school bus transportation, a new shelter for volunteers, butterfly and marmot research, improvements to the Pacific Crest Trail, Boys & Girls Club kids in the park, the Dan Evans Wilderness Dedication and so much more.
THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU. What great gifts we’ve given to the future. Happy Holidays!