Volunteers - Frequently Asked Questions
About the Volunteer-In-Parks Program
1. Are there any physical requirements?
Physical requirements will vary based on the volunteer position. For instance, a lighthousekeeper is required to climb up and down steps to get to the light station and then when conducting tours of the lighthouse/tower. A Maintenance Assistant may be required to lift at a minimum, 50 pounds. Volunteers may also be required to haul gear and drinking water from the boat landing to the residence.
As a National Park Service representative, it is imperative that volunteers maintain a neat, clean appearance. Personal cleanliness and good grooming are essential to good job performance and we expect everyone to promote a good National Park Service image.
2. How many lighthouses are cared for by volunteers?
Volunteers work atSand, Michigan, and Devils Islands.
3. Can I have my pet with me on the island?
No. Park employees are not allowed to have pets on the islands.
4. What does the NPS provide?
For mainland positions, RV sites or shared dormitory accommodations may be available. For island volunteers, transportation to/from island duty stations, a two-way radio for communication purposes, housing on the island, cleaning supplies, training, orientation to the park and a supervisor are provided. Full medical compensation will be provided if you are injured on the job and you will be reimbursed for the cost of a physical when required for specific positions.
5. Does the park provide food or any subsistence allowance?
Volunteers are responsible for providing their own food, bedding and personal items. There is no salary paid, however, a volunteer may be reimbursed for some expenses. Some expenses incurred by the volunteer may also be tax deductible.
6. What tours-of-duty are available and what time commitment is expected?
The tour-of-duty varies with the volunteer position. Lighthouse volunteers commonly commit to staying at their light station for 3-4 weeks with one trip to the mainland for supplies. Other positions have may have a rotating schedule such as 10 days on, 4 days off. Still other positions have a more standard work week for the duration of the season. Preference is generally given to those who can volunteer for longer periods of time.
Volunteers should expect to attend training, usually held in mid-June and lasting three days. Accommodations are not provided during training.
7. What’s in it for me?
The park may provide reimbursement for some mileage, and $3 per eight-hour day worked, for incidental expenses. You will gain work experience that can count toward future employment. You will have the opportunity to interact with a wide range of park visitors and staff. By working in a logistically challenging National Park Service unit, you will gain a deeper understanding of National Park Service values and enjoy exposure to the resources of the national lakeshore.
8. Are there any age requirements?
You must be at least 18 years old by the time you begin work and should be available to attend a two-day training session in mid-June.
9. Will I be in the quarters by myself all season?
There may be times when others will share the quarters, such as maintenance workers or researchers. You will be notified in advance of their arrival and the dates they are expected to be there.
10. Can I bring my family or have friends/relatives visit me?
Volunteers may request transportation for non-official passengers by requesting permission from their supervisor in writing. That transportation may be provided on a space available basis, as long as it meets certain conditions. Employees residing in shared quarters may not have overnight guests without the consent of other assigned occupants.
11. When can I expect to be notified if I’m selected or not?
Applications will be accepted throughout the year. Supervisors begin reviewing applications in January for the following summer season, and should have selections made by March 31st for the upcoming season. If you wish to know the status of your application, please call.
12. May I use my small boat or canoe to go to/from the island?
The park does not encourage the use of small, personal boats due to the temperamental nature of Lake Superior and the lack of safe mooring facilities on the islands. Use of personal craft of any kind during work hours requires the volunteer participate in boating safety training held in early spring at the park.
13. Where are campground hosts needed?
Sand Island (East Bay), Stockton Island, and Oak Island. The quarters are a two bedroom unit with indoor plumbing, LP gas for heating, cooking and refrigeration.
14. Is there a place for me to park my RV? My boat?
The park has three RV sites with electrical hook-up located at Little Sand Bay. The sites are assigned first to those volunteers working on the mainland unit. There is no dock space dedicated for use by park employees for personal boats.
15. What is the National Park Service looking for?
We are seeking mature people who have a good land ethic, an ability to communicate with the public, like to work hard, and have a sincere desire to help protect the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. To accomplish this, we must employ the most qualified and dedicated people we can find. There is competition for our volunteer positions and we strive to select those applicants who are best qualified.
16. Are internships available and how can I apply or obtain additional information? Some of our positions may be linked to internships. We have provided internships in the past and in some instances, housing may be available. Requests for information about internships would be forwarded to a supervisor who is responsible for areas where interest is expressed; i.e., requests for information about history internships would be forwarded to the Cultural Resources Management Specialist.
Did You Know?
In his “Report on Apostle Islands National Park Project, January 20, 1931”, landscape architect Harlan Kelsey noted that “the hand of man has mercilessly destroyed the islands’ virgin beauty, and, therefore, a largely controlling element as outstanding national park material even if other reasons made them eligible…this project does not meet National Park Service standards.”