For most of my lengthy career I had been involved with volunteers in our Park. It is amazing these people give up their personal time to happily contribute to the well being of the Park and resources. I had a group of volunteer stewards that we grew from maybe 20 people to over 150 in the course of 15 years. We started off with the vast majority being retired individuals, but over time many younger people joined the program and wanted to get involved.
It took some time to realize that if you want to have an engaged volunteer group you must have a sense of purpose, clear guidelines. a commitment of time and manpower and projects that they can get their teeth into! Many of these volunteers have amazing contributions coming from their careers as professionals in all kinds of fields, so its amazing what can be achieved.
We managed this and then the group grew by leaps and bounds! We had project days on a regular basis doing all kinds of things. Helping monitor bears, brush clearing, wildlife safety, human use monitoring, and many other things. We created a yearly internal newsletter, had a group dinner at the end of the season with guest speakers and we had a logo and vests to wear when “working”
Its important to not have volunteers do jobs staff would normally do as it can cause resentment that volunteers are talking away their jobs, so one has to plan carefully. After retiring in 2015 I take great satisfaction that the group is still going strong!
Here in the Comox Valley, Seal Bay Nature Park has become a favorite haunt. It is such a beautiful place. I jumped on the opportunity when I found out from Park administrators there was a volunteer group working on trails to take some photos of their volunteers and staff at work. Here are a few of from that day.