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Volunteers contribute thousands of hours of their time and talent to the operation of Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. Their backgrounds are as diverse as their contributions. The volunteers highlighted below are a few the many people who are stewards of the monument and the National Park Service. Explore the possibility of becoming a volunteer.
Volunteers From Abroad
Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument has benefited from the knowledge, talent and generosity of Joe and Marion Lammarsch, international volunteers from Germany. They are computer science professionals, working and teaching at the University of Heidelberg, and at the Private Distance-Education University of Applied Sciences Darmstadt, Germany.
Late summer/fall 2012 was their first season at the monument and their third time volunteering in a national park. Joe and Marion translated brochures, the newspaper and web pages from English to German. Marion's depth of computer experience combined with Joe's photography skills were valuable contributions for several design projects.
They offered, in English and German, spontaneous interpretive tours of the nature trail, which especially delighted the German visitors. When asked about talking to the public, Marion said, "Working in the visitor center is really fun, we meet a lot of people from all states and different countries. Talking with them gives us new views and impressions. Many people thanked us for being volunteers and some told us, that they feel the world move closer together."
Previously, in 2009 and 2007, they each contributed more than 1200 volunteer hours to Petrified Forest National Park. In addition to working the visitor center, Marion and Joe assisted with the preparation and archiving of paleontology bones for the museum collection, and monitored (GPS, digital photographs, transcription) recently discovered petroglyphs.
In retrospect Joe said, "We learned a lot about interpretation, geology, paleontology, history, and management. And of course we extended our English vocabulary and skills." They plan to return to the United States in 2013 and have already scheduled multiple weeks of volunteer time at Organ Pipe National Monument and other national parks.
College Graduates Gain Experience
Three recent college graduates are exchanging their knowledge and skills for real-life experience at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument through the Student Conservation Association (SCA). They each have volunteered for specific assignments but will also participate in a variety of other tasks.
Justin Minott, a 2011 environmental science and forestry graduate from the University of Vermont, and Katie Qualls who earned degrees in geology and environmental studies from Sewanee University in 2012, are volunteers with vegetation restoration projects. They help restore areas of desert wilderness that have been damaged as a consequence of illegal border activities. Responsibilities include seed collection, propagation, and cultivation. Additionally, they help monitor endangered species such as the desert pupfish (Cyprinodon macularius) and lesser long-nosed bat (Leptonycteris yerbabuenae), and assist with reptile and rodent studies.
Michael Lorusso graduated in May 2012 from Southern Illinois University with a degree in anthropology and minors in museum studies, art history, Native American studies, and Latin American studies. His main project is related to the preservation of seven historical ranching and mining structures located within the park. He will gain relevant skills in archaeological surveying, site identification, GPS mapping, historical preservation techniques, and intense exposure to "all things" southwestern/desert archaeology. With this experience Michael hopes to qualify as an archaeological technician with the National Park Service.
Justin says, "My time at Organ Pipe has been an excellent learning experience and a great chance to explore a career in restoration and conservation."
Did You Know?
It's not easy, practical, or legal to get "water" from a barrel cactus within the Monument. Even if you tried to get past the spines, it would be like sucking on a bad-tasting dish sponge. The best thing to do is fill a canteen with good drinking water before leaving home.