Photo courtesy Wes Greene.
Volunteers are vital to the success of the National Park Service (NPS). The Volunteers-In-Parks (VIP) program can accept and use voluntary help and services from the public in a way that is mutually beneficial to the NPS and the volunteer. Volunteers of all ages give of their time and expertise to help achieve the National Park Service mission.
The Volunteers-In-Parks Program at Blue Ridge Parkway works to preserve the cultural heritage, history, and natural resources of the Parkway region through the support of education, interpretation, and resource protection activities. The VIP program helps Parkway staff accomplish more than it could on its own. Volunteers are involved in virtually every aspect of park operations.
The Blue Ridge Parkway is divided into four management districts. Area supervisors and program managers are stationed strategically and geographically along the 469 mile route in Virginia and North Carolina to ensure the day to day and comprehensive management needs of the Parkway are addressed effectively. Volunteers work regularly in all four districts listed below:
· Ridge District (MP 0 - 106)
· Plateau District (MP 106 - 216)
· Highlands District (MP 216 - 331)
· Pisgah District (MP 331-469)
While volunteer openings and programming needs vary from district to district, the list below offers some ideas about the types of volunteer work that is needed on the Parkway from year to year.
· collect bloom report information,
· record wildlife sightings,
· assist with parking vehicles in high traffic areas,
· assist with special events,
· provide sewing/seamstress work to create period appropriate costuming,
· lend expertise for pioneer gardening or quilting,
· share talents such as traditional music or photography,
· assist with trail maintenance and clearing,
· greet visitors at visitor contact stations,
· serve as campground hosts, and
The Parkway's Partner in Volunteerism:
FRIENDS of the Blue Ridge Parkway, Inc. is the Parkway's partner in administering its VIP program. They assist in the management, recruitment and recognition of Parkway VIPs. In addition, FRIENDS mobilizes additional park volunteers through their network of chapters along the Parkway region that provide important connections to neighboring communities.
Group projects attract large numbers of volunteers from throughout the country to participate in projects lasting anywhere from a day to several weeks. Volunteer groups at the Parkway include schools, corporations, civic organizations or scout troops. Please contact the Parkway's VIP Coordinator well in advance to begin planning group projects.
Contact The Friends of the Blue Ridge Parkway today to find out more about how to be involved with projects that fit your schedule and your set of skills.