Acadia Volunteer Impact

Volunteers are an integral part of our Acadia Team. They bring energy, passion, and new ideas to the table. Working in partnership with our staff, volunteers enable us to provide the most engaging, educational, and safe experience for our visitors possible while helping us protect the invaluable natural and cultural resources that make this such a special place.

In 2023 Acadia National Park had 1,222 volunteers donate 46,332 hours. We are indebted to all of our volunteers for their energy, passion, and time.

A pie-chart style graph titled "total volunteer hours." Different volunteer divisions are divided by color. Admin volunteer hours are the highest, making up about a third of the graph at 15879 hours, followed by natural resources, maintenance, and more.
A graph titled "individual volunteers" with two rows of minimalist stick figures representing a certain percentage of volunteers. Maintenance, depicted in blue, holds the greatest percentage of individual volunteers at about 75%.

Who's Volunteered at Acadia?

Meet some of Acadia's past volunteers as they give their testimonials.

A woman with salt and pepper hair and dressed in the NPS volunteer uniform holds a wooden plaque decorated with the National Park arrowhead logo and the text "Volunteer of the Year: 2023"


Jennifer Gillespie, Education Volunteer

Memories are like stars-they are the light we see but really are only part of the whole picture. Here are some of mine from my time on Schoodic this year:

The stark white brightness of the stars in the predawn on a crystal-clear night. The longer I stare the more stars I see-looking into the past.

The warm glow of the sky just before the sun rises behind Little Moose Island.

The surprised smiles on peoples faces as they see a crab-costumed Ranger beckoning them to an intertidal creature program.

The awe inspired by the monster surf that crashed along the shoreline during the hurricane.

The chatter and laughter of the kids as they tumble out of the bus to drag and carry their suitcases and duffle bags, pillows and jackets into the dorm.

Ranger Matt’s “chicken wing circle”- a way of getting even middle-school students into a circle- a kindergarten skill that has apparently been lost along the way.

The intense focus of students as they record data, write a Photojournalism article or search for crabs and other shore life.

The deep satisfaction when a student or a group master a new skill, like using a dichotomous key, or really start to grasp the enormous span of geologic time.

The warm, friendly chatter in Eliot Middle at the end of the afternoon, as some are winding up for the day, and others are reviewing campfire or art plans for the evening.

The camaraderie of watching the sunset from Schoodic Point with friends and strangers, tourists and locals.

The quiet pleasure of watching a sunset from West Pond Cove.

Becoming aware of the cycles of tides and moon phases, the comings and goings of the fox family and the porcupines, the deer doe and fawn who come to graze outside Dorr Hall in the early morning mist and the first lengthening and now shortening daylight as we cycle through the seasons here on Schoodic Peninsula.

These are some of the highlights – my memories from 2023.

A woman in a sunhat standing next to a wooden sign. The text on the sign is partially cut off, but designates the mountain peak's name and elevation.

Why I Volunteer

Barbara Nealon, Education Volunteer

As a school teacher, my summertime in Acadia helped me to recover from the school year. I am an introvert and teaching took so much of my energy. The trails and quiet places in Acadia reenergized me for another year. The poor cell phone reception made it easy for me to truely unplug for a few weeks.The ranger programs and experiences I had in the field were some of the best professional development I had all year.

I started to volunteer as a way to give back to a place that has given me so much over the years. I met volunteers and park staff who inspired me and taught me valuable skills and lessons, many of which I took back to my AP Environmental Science classes. Volunteering is the least I can do to thank everyone who taught me so much. I believe that we need to be good stewards of the land and that we need to model stewardship to younger generations.

I am honored to be trusted to model stewardship to Acadia's visitors. I am thankful for everything Acadia has given me and will continue to pay it forward.

A teenage boy with short blond hair and a sweater in an indoor environment

Lifelong Skills

Matthew Carber, IT Volunteer

My name is Matthew Carber. I did 90 hours of volunteer work at Acadia National park. I needed volunteer hours for my school and my dad talked with his previous coworker Zach and I was able to get more than double the hours I needed. Going into it I thought it was going to be super boring and that the 40 hours would go by at a snail's pace. By the end of it I didn’t even know I had spent so much time there as the time went by quickly.

I worked with Zach doing IT work around the headquarters. When I first came he had just started a big project of running phone lines throughout the ceiling and I was able to help see the project from start to finish. Almost every day I worked we ended it with lunch in Dog and Pony in Bar Harbor (I recommend the clam chowder). I enjoyed working with Zach and he was a good supervisor. I’m sure I wouldn’t have had a better place to volunteer at as Acadia is such a beautiful park. Even though I didn’t see much of it as I was inside for most of what I was doing but the park has plenty of other things that you could do that would let you see its gorgeous landscape. Every now and then my dad has me come to the office to help him do something and I remember the good times I had.

I highly recommend volunteering here as the experiences will stick with you for a lifetime and might even help you in some jobs in the future.

Person stands in a wooded area reaching for a research tag hanging on a small tree.
Deb Priest examines a research tag on a trail in Acadia National Park.

Olivia Milloway, Schoodic Institute

The "Bug Lady" of Schoodic Point

Deb Priest, Naturalist Volunteer

I volunteer in Acadia’s Schoodic section, where I gather weekly data on insects found on selected trees in two parts of the Park. This study is part of Schoodic Research Institute’s participation in the National Climate Change Survey, administered by the University of North Carolina, for which Acadia is the northern- and easternmost data point in this study.

I am not a trained entomologist, so for me a lot of the fun participating in this study is all I am constantly observing and learning. My insect data are then compared with migratory bird arrival data for possible mismatches in timing between the arrival of the birds and the availability of their food. I feel I am contributing to the development of an important understanding of climate change and its impacts - and even if it may have already begun here.

Another aspect of my study I really enjoy is being, at one of my sites, off trail in my own private spot in the Park. I am deep in the woods, where I hear all sorts of birds, find traces of animals large and small, and discover unusual plant growth in its full glory. And all the while I hear surf crashing in the background.

But my very favorite thing in this work is when visitors spot me, nearby but off trail, and stop to ask what I am doing. My usual response is “checking to make sure we have enough bugs.” That generally starts a conversation. If girls or boys are present, they launch into tales of their favorite or recent insect encounter. I often learn from them. So I always pack some rubber insects with me, and if my young visitors can tell me at least one characteristic thing about insects, they get to choose from my hoard. It was one of these children who gave me the moniker “BugLady,” which I now proudly go by.

Some days I feel I am the luckiest person in the Park.

Acadia National Park

Last updated: January 5, 2024