• The dunes in soft light

    White Sands

    National Monument New Mexico


Sandra Noll, February 2011

NPS photo

By Sandra Noll, VIP

Do you enjoy travel, exploring, learning, connecting with special places? Do you have hobbies you’d like to pursue in a new setting, like photography, hiking or stargazing? Do you enjoy meeting new people from around the world and sharing the wonders of our National Parks with them? If your
answer is "yes" to any of these, you could make a great VIP – Volunteer In Parks!

For the past five years, my partner and I have served as volunteers in National Parks and other nature-related sites from Alaska to the Texas Gulf Coast. Although we like a nomadic lifestyle, live in an RV and generally volunteer for 3-month intervals, that sort of commitment isn’t required. You don’t even need to have an RV - many parks provide housing for volunteers. Or if you’d rather stay close to home and volunteer one day/week or for a short term, your time and contributions would be valued. There are a wide variety of opportunities for VIP’s!

Here at the White Sands, for instance, "RV-resident" volunteers are scheduled to work about 32 hours per week which includes time for planning and projects. Some of us join rangers and "local/day"
volunteers at the front desk greeting visitors, sharing information about the park and working with kids to become "Junior Rangers." Others work on construction or maintenance projects. Given time to learn about the animal and plant life and special geology and geography of the dunes, volunteers also lead Sunset Strolls and tours.

How great is that? It is my "job" to explore all corners of the park and learn as much as I can about this unique place. Then I get to share its special features with visitors from all over the US and the world. Plus, I can build on my hobbies in photography and writing to work with rangers on publications and programs. Best of all, I have time to explore the many nuances of White Sands and this fascinating part of the Southwest.

Want VIP status? Ask for more information at the visitor center!

A volunteer in the visitor center
nps photo

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