Multimedia Presentations: National Volunteer Week 2020 Videos

Get to know some of the fabulous volunteers at Point Reyes National Seashore as we celebrate National Volunteer Week and the 50th Anniversary of the NPS Volunteers-In-Parks Program. The interviews below reveal their most memorable moments as volunteers and their favorite places in Point Reyes. To learn more about volunteering at Point Reyes, visit our Volunteer page.

 

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National Volunteer Week 2020 Interview Transcript Sophie Gardner

Doug Hee: Happy National Volunteer Week!

This week we're recognizing and celebrating our fabulous volunteers at Point Reyes National Seashore.

The National Park Service's volunteer program Volunteers-In-Parks, or VIP program, engages thousands of volunteers across the country each year in accomplishing priority work, that would not be done otherwise.

And this year happens to be the 50th anniversary of the National Park Service VIP program.

My name is Doug Hee, Park Ranger and acting Volunteers-In-Parks program manager at Point Reyes National Seashore.

I'd like you to meet one of Point Reyes National Seashore's volunteers, Sophie Gardner, so she can tell us some stories about her volunteer work.

Hello Sophie. Thanks for being with us today.

Sophie Gardner: Hi Doug. Thanks for having me.

DH: It's great to have you here. How long have you been volunteering at Point Reyes and what do you do?

SG: I've been volunteering at the Morgan Horse Ranch in Point Reyes since summer of 2019.

DH: Great, can you tell us a little bit more about what you do as a Morgan Horse Ranch volunteer?

SG: Yeah...uh...well, I'm volunteering at the ranch. M my main responsibilities are caring for the horses on specific days throughout the week. Um...each volunteer has a day where it's treated like their job. Um...you get there in the morning, feed the horses, administer any medication. Just check on their well-being. Check their hooves, groom them. Uh...some days we do exercises with the horses, which can be either groundwork training, or even patrolling the trails in Point Reyes.

DH: Oh, fabulous. Can you tell us about one of your most memorable moments as a volunteer?

SG: One of my most memorable days being out there was when we rebuilt the fence...uh, that encloses the pasture in the visitor parking lot. That was a really great project because...um...so much of the staff and volunteers in Point Reyes all came out and did it together. And it was really laborious [sic], too, and hot. But it felt really good doing it. And seeing it afterwards, when all the horses came out into the pasture, and the visitors could see them from the parking lot, it felt really great to have that accomplished.

DH: Great. When you are not volunteering at the seashore, what would we most likely find you doing?

SG: Uh, I love hiking around Marin. We're really lucky to live out here where it's pretty much just in my backyard. I have a dog, Leo, who I am with all the time, as well. [chuckling] He comes with me on hikes.

DH: What advice would you give someone who is thinking about volunteering at Point Reyes?

SG: Um...I would say, definitely be creative. If there's something that you think could be improved throughout the park, a project that you would like to work on, everyone's always really open for new ideas and really supportive. Whether you're a volunteer or an employee, there's always someone there to listen.

DH: And what is your favorite place to visit at Point Reyes National Seashore?

SG: Definitely...uh...Inverness Beach. Yeah, I love that beach. It's...it's just a special one. The sunset hits a different way.

DH: Wow, sounds like a great place.

SG: Mm-hmm.

DH: Well, thank you Sophie, for sharing with us your experiences as a volunteer. And thank you for your service to the park.

SG: Thanks for having me. I'm happy to be here.

DH: If you are interested in volunteering at Point Reyes National Seashore, please visit our website at nps.gov/pore

Thank you for spending time with us today. We hope you all have an opportunity to visit Point Reyes National Seashore in the future.

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Duration:
4 minutes, 25 seconds

Park Ranger Doug Hee interviews volunteer Sophie Gardner about her most memorable experiences as a Morgan Horse Ranch volunteer at Point Reyes National Seashore.

 

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National Volunteer Week 2020 Interview Transcript: Kevin Garcia

Doug Hee: Happy National Volunteer Week!

This week, we're recognizing and celebrating our fabulous volunteers at Point Reyes National Seashore.

The National Park Service's volunteer program, Volunteers-In-Parks, or VIP, program engages thousands of volunteers across the country each year in accomplishing priority work that would not be done otherwise.

And this year happens to be the 50th anniversary of the National Park Service VIP program.

My name is Doug Hee, Park Ranger and acting Volunteers-in-Parks program manager at Point Reyes National Seashore.

I'd like you to meet one of Point Reyes National Seashore's volunteers, Kevin Garcia, so he can tell us some of his stories about volunteering.

Hello Kevin, thanks for being with us today.

Kevin Garcia: Hi, thank you for having me.

DH: How long have you been volunteering at Point Reyes? And what do you do?

KG: I started volunteering at Point Reyes this winter, so it's been a few months really, and...uh...I volunteer for the Winter Wildlife Docent program, where I'm mainly placed in...um...wildlife viewing sites, and I talk to the public about wildlife, ecology, and some other aspects of the National Park.

DH: Can you tell us a little bit more in detail, what you do as a winter wildlife docent volunteer?

KG: As a winter wildlife docent, I'm...I'm stationed either at Drake's Beach or...or at the lighthouse. And I get to talk to the public about elephant seals. Also whales, as well. And I get to tell them about management that happens at the park. That's why uh...there's other reasons to mitigate, I guess, the public's behavior towards animals, and uh...I get to tell them and share them cool facts about all of the animals, really. So, I enhance the, the park's visitors' experience.

DH: Great, thank you. Can you tell us about one of your most memorable moments as a volunteer?

KG: My most memorable moment was talking to maybe a young girl, maybe about 10, 11, I want to say. And she kept coming back. This was at um...Drakes Beach and she had many questions about elephant seals. Some of the questions included, "Why are they asleep for so long?" "If they're dead?", or things like that. She was very interested in...um.... Eventually, she brought her whole family over, maybe it was a group of five or six individuals, and...it was a long conversation that we had, and they were so interested. And uh...her older sister actually wants to be a marine biologist. So...eventually, she says she wants to come in and volunteer and do some of the same work that I've been doing at the park, and that everyone does at the park, including the rangers. So, that was one of my favorite experiences.

DH: Oh, that's great! When you're not volunteering at the seashore, what would we most likely find you doing?

KG: You can find me at your local trail, either uh...birding or looking at wildlife, uh...really...really recording their behavior. Or uhm...just taking my friends and walking along the trails. Uhm.... And when you don't find me outdoors, you can find me indoors, either playing guitar, or uh...just watching a good movie. Something like that.

DH: Ah…What advice would you give someone who is thinking about volunteering at Point Reyes?

KG: If you have the time, I say you do it. Not only because you're gonna be exposed to so many...cool environments wherever you decide to uh...volunteer at, but you're also gonna get to meet a lot of wonderful people. The rangers...uh...the other volunteers. So, we live in a time where networking...networking is very important. So.... This is one of the best experiences that I've had, and uh, you can certainly have similar experiences at your park.

DH: And what is your favorite place to visit at Point Reyes National Seashore?

KG: I have two places actually. My.... But my favorite one would be Tomales Point...uh...Trail. And the second one would be Abbotts Lagoon. I think those uh...have some of the best sunsets at the park and a lot of wildlife.

DH: Well, thank you Kevin, for sharing with us your experiences as a volunteer. And thank you for your service to the park!

KG: Again, thank you so much for having me. It's been an honor and I look forward to coming back.

DH: If you are interested in volunteering at Point Reyes National Seashore, please visit our website at nps.gov/pore

Thank you for spending the time with us today. We hope you all have an opportunity to visit Point Reyes National Seashore in the future.

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Duration:
4 minutes, 46 seconds

Park Ranger Doug Hee interviews volunteer Kevin Garcia about his most memorable experiences as a Winter Wildlife Docent volunteer at Point Reyes National Seashore.

 

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National Volunteer Week 2020 Interview Transcript: Michael Aspiras

Anela Kopshever: Happy National Volunteer Week!

This week we're recognizing and celebrating our fabulous volunteers at Point Reyes National Seashore.

The National Park Service's volunteer program Volunteers-in-Parks, or VIP, program engages thousands of volunteers across the country each year, in accomplishing priority work that would not be done otherwise.

And this year happens to be the 50th anniversary of the National Park Service VIP program!

My name is Anela Kopshever, Park Ranger at Point Reyes National Seashore.

I'd like you to meet one of Point Reyes National Seashore's volunteers, Michael Aspiras, so he can tell us some stories about his volunteer work.

Michael Aspiras: Hi Anela, pleasure to be here. Thank you for having me aboard.

AS: Hi Michael! Thanks for being with us today. Could you tell us how long have you been volunteering at Point Reyes and what do you do?

MA: Absolutely Anela!

So, I'm actually one of the newer volunteers at Point Reyes National Seashore. I've been volunteering for several months as a trail patrol volunteer since November of 2019.

AS: And could you tell us a little more about what you do as a trail patrol volunteer?

MA: Absolutely! So, as a Trail Patrol Volunteer, we work with the Park Rangers in Visitor and Resource Protection. So, what we do as a trail patrol volunteer is, we head out and rove the many trails located within the seashore. For example, in the Philip Burton wilderness, along Bear Valley Trail. And what our emphasis is is on visitor contact. We just want to make sure that everybody is observing the rules and regulations of the park. Not only for the safety of the animals and located within there, but also, most importantly, for visitor safety.

Much like the national parks within the United States and outside the United States, there are hazards that are present. So, we're out there to basically also rove the trails to ensure that there's no hazards present that might harm the visitors out there. For example, like fallen trees after a recent storm. Or in more urgent circumstances, if a visitor needs medical attention, we have the capability to call our dispatch to provide emergency response.

AS: Well, thank you for being out on the trails. And can you tell us more about or tell us...tell us one of your most memorable...memorable moments as a volunteer?

MA: Absolutely! So, one of my most memorable moments as a volunteer was being out on Tomales Point Trail, observing some of the tule elk that just happened to be grazing near one of the trails there. As I was observing, making sure that the animals, and visitors have been keeping their contact, I heard one of the calves kind of calling out to its mother. Almost in an instinct, I stopped hikers on both ends. It was fairly crowded on the trail that day. And then, as soon as I did that, almost instantly, the tule elk began to cross the trail.

To share that moment with the visitors there as a tule elk were crossing the trail, seeing the awe and wow from children there, as it gracefully crossed the trail to meet each other, was something spectacular to share, and to be in that same moment with the visitors.

AS: Oh, what a wonderful memory! And when you're not volunteering at the seashore, what would we most likely find you doing?

MA: So, when I'm not at the seashore, you'll most likely definitely find me outside. Whether it's at a regional park, or even at one of our many national parks. I do a lot of photography, so you can say I got a little bit of a Ansel Adams inspiration in me. Capturing these amazing, beautiful landscapes that are located throughout.

Not only that, I am an active member serving with the United States Coast Guard. So, with them, we do search and rescue, law enforcement, maritime environmental response. So, we also work in partnership with the National Park Service in certain of these missions.

AS: And what advice would you give someone who is thinking about volunteering at Point Reyes?

MA: Do it! That's all I can say really. For anybody that's willing to volunteer or wants to volunteer at Point Reyes National Seashore, we're looking for a lot of volunteers, you know, in a variety of skill sets. It doesn't necessarily, you know, have to be very physical intensive, you know, it can be out there, just talking to visitors and helping them learn more about Point Reyes. There's just so much to share within the Point Reyes National Seashore.

For example, in my specific skill set, I like to do a lot of, like, backpacker contact. See, the seashore provides a great opportunity for anybody who wants to try backpacking for the first time and it enables me to let them know, "Hey based on my prior experiences, here's some tips and tricks to help you succeed when you're hiking out to the campgrounds." And to also hear from them saying, "Hey, yeah you know, as an avid backpacker, here are some of my tips and tricks that we can all share." It's something great within the backpacking community out there.

AS: Great! And what is your favorite place to visit at Point Reyes National Seashore?

MA: Oh gosh. There is so many places at the seashore that I could probably call my favorite. But one of my most favorite places to visit at the National Seashore is actually along Bear Valley Trail. It's about one and a half miles from the visitor center, but it's the Divide Meadow. I always like to stop there when, at the end of my trail patrols, just to kind of relax and take in the scenery and landscape that's there. Especially during sunset, when you have that nice golden glow. Sometimes you might see coyotes out there frolicking, playing around. Other days I've seen deer just kind of gracefully grazing out there. It's just an absolutely phenomenal scene to be out there and to just take it all in and just say, "Wow! This is a National Seashore, a National Park, right in my backyard here in the Bay Area."

AS: Thank you, Michael, for sharing with us your experiences as a volunteer. And thank you so much for your service!

[Directed at audience] If you are interested in volunteering at Point Reyes National Seashore, please visit our website at nps.gov/pore

Thank you for spending time with us today! We hope you all have an opportunity to visit Point Reyes National Seashore in the future!

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Duration:
7 minutes, 3 seconds

Park Ranger Anela Ramos interviews volunteer Michael Aspiras about his most memorable experiences as a Trail Patrol volunteer at Point Reyes National Seashore.

 

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National Volunteer Week 2020 Interview Transcript: Jim Rolka

Pascal Sisich: Happy National Volunteer Week!

This week we're recognizing and celebrating our fabulous volunteers at Point Reyes National Seashore.

The National Park Service's volunteer program, Volunteers-In-Park, or VIP, program, engages thousands of volunteers across the country each year in accomplishing priority work that would not be done otherwise.

And this year happens to be the 50th anniversary of the National Park Service VIP program.

My name is Pascal Sisich. I'm a Visitor Use Assistant here at Point Reyes National Seashore.

I'd like you to meet one of Point Reyes National Seashore's volunteers, Jim Rolka, so he can tell us some stories about his volunteer work at the park.

Hello Jim, thanks for being with us today.

Jim Rolka: Hello Pascal!

PS: How long have you been volunteering at Point Reyes, and what do you do?

JR: I've been a volunteer out at Point Reyes, this is my eleventh year.

I retired... uhh... 11 years ago. And after about six months of being at home, I started thinking, "I'd like to be doing something a little bit more." And I came across this website called Volunteer.gov. And it has thousands and thousands of opportunities, all just in the Bay Area to volunteer.

And as I was going through the list, I came across Point Reyes National Seashore, and I thought to myself, "I've lived out here for 40 years, and I've got a national park in my backyard, and I've only been out there twice"

So I decided, that's what I wanted to do. And I signed up. I sent in my application to Doug Hee, a Park Ranger there. And, uhh, he, this was in June, and he told me, "Well, we've got this docent program, we need volunteers for the western snowy plovers." And... ...uhhhm... we..."Trainings already over with, but go out and you can learn on the job"

And that's what I did. And actually that's the best way, because...you work with volunteers who are very eager to share their knowledge and information.

[Pascal asks a question which can’t be heard by the viewer.]

JR: Um...what do I do out there? I...I've actually belonged to three...I've worked on three different programs...as a docent.

One program was for the tule elk. There's a tule elk reserve in the northern end of the park. And, uhh... I wear different hats, y'know, so that when I'm out there with the tule elk, and they have to look a long ways, I have my... my field hat. And then I talk to people about, you know, the tule elk, and how, like, an alpha bull chases away all of the...all of the young adult bulls with a terrifying roar.

[A high-pitched squealing noise is produced when when Jim squeezes the plush toy elk.]

And that's what it sounds like! But it scares the heck out of the young bulls and they run away, changing their testosterone to adrenaline.

[chuckling]

And then, after the tule elk season is over, that's in the autumn, during the rut season.

Then we get into the Winter Wildlife program. And it's winter and it's cold. And we go out to ...uhh... the lighthouse and to the Elephant Seal Overlook and other places where it can be quite windy and stormy. Um.... That's a very fun program, it's probably the most popular docent program in the park. I think this past year they had, like, 70 volunteers. Um... And we talk to people about elephant seals...and we talk to them about the lighthouse, we talk to them about the Coast Guard boat station, and we also talked to them about gray whales. [chuckles] And that's a lot of fun. People love it. They love the elephant seals.

And then, after the Winter Wildlife season is over with, and it gets to summertime, from basically Memorial Day to Labor Day, and we then talk about the western snowy plovers. And for that I need to wear a hat that provides a lot of sun protection, because we're out there on the beaches.

It's a little more challenging program, because...with the tule elk, we want people to see them, we even set up telescopes so they can look. And the same thing goes with the Winter Wildlife Program. We want people to see the whales, the elephant seals, and so forth.

With the snowy plovers, they're nesting, and we don't want the nest disturbed, and that's why we're out there, is to tell people about the snowy plovers...and to ask them to stay away from the nests. So it's a little more difficult. We have to use props and we show...make artificial nests and that sort of thing, just to communicate.

[rustling noise]

[Pascal] Jim, tell me about one of your most memorable moments as a volunteer?

JR: Oh, that's easy! We had...uhh...this was a Winter Wildlife program and if you're a volunteer during that, you can stay out at the old Coast Guard Boathouse, overnight from Saturday night to Sunday night, if you're doing both days on the weekend. And I went out there on a Saturday, it was supposed to be a really stormy weekend, and it turns out that it was so stormy that they canceled all docenting. And…and...but it was too late. I was already out there, and there was one other fellow with me.

And so, the two of us, we were staying at the boathouse, and we decided, "Well, we're here. What the heck."

And we knew it was going to be a rainy weekend, so we had our foul weather gear. So, we got up Sunday morning, and went out to the elephant seal overlook...wearing our nor'easter outfits...not expecting to see anybody.

Okay.

We had 70 people show up that day, during the storm with torrential rains and winds and cold weather. And I would say out of those 70 people, probably...three-quarters of them were not from the United States. They were people who had traveled here and, for whatever reason, they were on the west coast and they wanted to see these elephant seals, and they didn't care about the weather. So, they showed up.

And, here there were two of us, that were actually out there, being docents in the storm. [chuckles] And...uh..., but, I was just so impressed because people came from all over the world to see these animals and... and, I was so glad to be able to be there to talk to them about it.

PS: Oh, that's great Jim.

Tell us, when you are not volunteering at the seashore, what would we most likely find you doing?

JR: Well I'm uhh...I'm a very amateur photographer, and so I like nature photography. I'll go out... and...um...out to Point Reyes and other places just to take nature pictures, and so forth.

Um.

And I spent fifty years in the...in the computer business and computer support. So I do tech support for my church, for my men's group, for other things. And...uh.... Part of the men's group I belong to, it's called Sirs...um...I run a photography club for them. And we go out on field trips to take pictures, and then come back and analyze them, and talk about what to do. So...that's the kind of stuff that I do.

PS: Jim, what advice would you give someone who was thinking about volunteering at Point Reyes?

JR: Sign up now! Um...it's...it's very rewarding. It's a lot of fun. And you meet people, like yourself, who are really interested in learning about nature and... and telling others about it.

I mean, I spent fifty years as a electrical engineer...computer guy. I didn't know anything about birds. I didn't know anything about wildlife. But I knew that I liked to be outdoors...and...and having worked as a docent out at Point Reyes, I've learned so much. Um... .

I took the California Naturalist program. I've learned most of the flowers that are out there at Point Reyes, and there are dozens and dozens of them... rather unique to the area, and just beautiful at different times of the year.

And something like, 60 or 75 percent of the birds in North America come through...migrate through the corridor that is Point Reyes National Seashore. And they'll show up out there. And, so, you get to see all kinds of birds and wildlife.

So, it's...it's just a lot of fun. So, my advice to people that are interested is: If you do sign up, never stop learning, okay, because ...uh…I, for example, but...uh...the gray whales...you know, you read books about them. Or the park, there's a...there's a whole two-inch-thick volume on the natural history of the park.

And the more you know, the more you can share with visitors, and give them a richer experience about how valuable this national seashore is.

PS: What is your favorite place to visit at the park?

JR: Easy. Abbotts lagoon. I...I love it...um... . Now don't get me wrong, there's a lot of beautiful places in the park, and I love them all. I love going out to Tomales Point, to the...to the elk reserve. I love going to the beaches. I love going to the lighthouse and the seal overlook...Drakes Beach, etc.

There's a lot of fantastic places. But, for...uh...a good part of the year, it's a nice short walk, it's only about a mile or so down to the ocean, but you're going from a...um...from...uh...several hundred feet in elevation with a lot of chaparral and you go through ravines, and you go through...uh...sandy beaches. So, you see, you'll see wildlife in different environments all along this mile-long path, and so, it's a very rich environment, of seashore versus.... versus chaparral, and...um...and different birds, animals, you name it.

I love it. I love Abbotts Lagoon.

PS: Thank you, Jim, for sharing with us your experiences as a volunteer.

JR: Thank you for the opportunity to talk about it. I love to talk about it!

[Pascal chuckling]

JR: Bye bye!

PS: If you are interested in volunteering at Point Reyes National Seashore, please visit our website at nps.gov/pore

Thank you for spending time with us today. We hope you all have the opportunity to visit us at the park soon. Thank you

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Duration:
12 minutes, 3 seconds

Visitor Use Assistant at Point Reyes National Seashore, Pascal Sisich, interviews volunteer Jim Rolka about his most memorable experiences as a volunteer with the Tule Elk, Winter Wildlife, and Snowy Plover docent programs.

 

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National Volunteer Week 2020 Interview Transcript: Seth Rosen

Doug Hee: Happy National Volunteer Week!

This week we're recognizing and celebrating our fabulous volunteers at Point Reyes National Seashore.

The National Park Service's volunteer program, Volunteers-in-Parks, or VIP, program engages thousands of volunteers across the country each year in accomplishing priority work that would not be done otherwise.

This year happens to be the 50th anniversary of the National Park Service VIP program!

My name is Doug Hee, Park Ranger and acting Volunteers-in-Parks program manager for Point Reyes National Seashore.

I'd like you to meet one of Point Reyes National Seashore's volunteers, Seth Rosen, so he can tell us some stories about his volunteer work.

Hello Seth!

Seth Rosen: Hi Doug.

DH: Thanks for speaking with us today.

SR: Hi Doug! Well thanks very much, and thanks to all the National Park Service folks who work hard and keep our parks open for the public...um...when there's not a coronavirus I suppose.

DH: Exactly!

[Seth chuckles]

DH: So how long have you been volunteering at Point Reyes and what do you do?

SR: Well, I've been volunteering the last three years with the board of directors for the nonprofit cooperating agency that works with the park. We are the Point Reyes National Seashore Association or PRNSA [pronounced "prince-uh]. I have been working on the board of directors...um...I'm currently the co-chair of development and I'm also the chair of the audit committee.

Some of the other volunteer activities at the park that I do...um...is I'm a Winter Wildlife Docent. So, I help the public when they go out to see northern elephant seals or the California gray whales during their migration, and we help inform the public.

That has been a fantastic opportunity. And that actually came around because I took a PRNSA adult class...um...around becoming a California naturalist. And, so, that led me to the Winter Wildlife Docent program.

So PRNSA has been great about creating volunteer opportunities for me personally. It's been really wonderful.

DH: Can you tell me about one of your most memorable moments as a volunteer?

SR: Sure! Yeah, I mean one great moment was a few months ago. We were at a board meeting and three of our fantastic staff—Brandon Barragan, Isaac Taylor, and our associate director Sam Chiriboga—made a great presentation about our impact on diversity equity and inclusion efforts. What was fantastic is they went over the impact that our programs have been having.

One of our programs is called the young stewards program and that is a program directed at kids from underserved communities, to bring them out to the Seashore. And, you know, if you want to measure metrics, we have fantastic metrics around that. We brought over 2,000 kids from underserved communities to the Seashore last year.

But, you know what metrics don't capture is the awe and the wonder that light up a kid's face. When, even though they've grown up maybe 15 miles away from the ocean, they've never been there before. And to hear the stories that Sam and Isaac and Brandon tell is just heartwarming.

And it really makes you understand the impact that our staff and our volunteers and our donors are having on individual lives. And it's, it's just inspiring.

DH: Thank you!

When you aren't volunteering at the Seashore, what would we most likely find you doing?

SR: [Chuckles] Well, probably hiking the Seashore. In 2012, PRNSA worked with the Park Service to create a trails challenge and my wife and I...that was really one of the ways that we started becoming involved. And we ended up hiking every trail in the park. That is a lot of trails. Over 200 miles! It took us a good six months, cramming it into weekends, but that was fabulous.

I also love to kayak in Tomales Bay.

And if I'm not out at the Seashore, I'm probably back home in Oakland, maybe in my garage, working in the wood shop.

DH: Wonderful!

What advice would you give someone who is thinking about volunteering at Point Reyes?

SR: Well, the main advice is: do it!

We have opportunities at Point Reyes, really, for everybody. Whether you're looking for a one-day opportunity, a week, a project, or something really extended. And whether you're looking to be inside or outside.

One of the things that PRNSA does as an organization that works closely with the Park Service is we support the volunteer programs at the park.

So, for example, we provide funding for some of the conservation staff, so that when we run some of the monitoring programs for coho and steelhead, um...we support that sort of thing. I did that one day with my son. We went out e-fishing and monitoring, and that was just an amazing...um...example of a one-day, really exciting opportunity.

Also ,you know if you're into horses and the Morgan Horse Ranch, there are opportunities there. And PRNSA has provided funds in the past to provide new saddles and things like that.

And, if you're interested in working with PRNSA, we could really use volunteers. Um, folks who have a background in science or education can get involved with our youth programs...or our adult education programs.

We run a field institute and we're always looking for great teachers with great ideas for classes.

Um...as well as one day removing invasive species.

So, there is really something for everyone.

If you're digital savvy, PRNSA could really use volunteers to help us with our websites, making short video clips, and writing content for our newsletters.

So, there's really something for everyone. Get in touch with us if you can't find what you're looking for. And there are great websites, both at the Park Service and PRNSA, that really detail all of the volunteer programs and how to get involved.

DH: Great! Thank you!

What is your favorite place to visit at Point Reyes National Seashore?

SR: Well, I'm gonna give you two answers for that.

One is the scenery behind me, which is Drakes Beach, which is fabulous, especially when there are elephant seals there. Of course, you can't get too close! But it's just one of the most amazing things to watch.

And then another real favorite of mine is Chimney Rock. Chimney Rock just never disappoints, whether it's wildflowers, whether it's watching whales migrate, or frankly whether it's just watching the oceans crash against the cliffs.

The beauty of the Point Reyes Seashore being one of the closest Wilderness areas in the country to a major urban center is something that you just can't get.

And PRNSA and the Park Service work really hard to...make opportunities available for folks to experience their park.

And, frankly, we can't wait for this coronavirus to be over. To reopen and...to...we are just so geared up to get our programs...running as quickly as possible so everyone can enjoy our parks.

DH: Yeah. Will be very nice when we can get back to the park.

SR: Yeah.

DH: Well, thank you, Seth, for sharing with us your experiences as a volunteer.

SR: Well, thank you, Doug, and thanks for everything you're doing to help facilitate the volunteer experience of Point Reyes National Seashore!

DH: If you're interested in volunteering at Point Reyes National Seashore or with the Point Reyes National Seashore Association, please visit the park's website at nps.gov/pore

Thank you for spending time with us today!

We hope you all have an opportunity to visit Point Reyes National Seashore in the very near future.

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Duration:
8 minutes, 49 seconds

Park Ranger and Acting Volunteers-in-Parks Program Manager at Point Reyes National Seashore, Doug Hee, interviews volunteer Seth Rosen about his most memorable experiences as a Point Reyes National Seashore Association board member.

 

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National Volunteer Week 2020 Interview Transcript: Katie Ballinger

Doug Hee: Happy National Volunteer Week!

This week, we're recognizing and celebrating our fabulous volunteers at Point Reyes National Seashore.

The National Park Service's volunteer program, Volunteers-in-Parks, or VIP, program, engages thousands of volunteers across the country each year in accomplishing priority work, that would not be done otherwise.

This year happens to be the 50th anniversary of the National Park Service VIP program!

My name is Doug Hee, Park Ranger and acting Volunteers-in-Parks program manager for Point Reyes National Seashore.

I'd like you to meet one of Point Reyes National Seashore's volunteers, Katie Ballinger, so she can tell us some stories about her volunteer work.

And, by the way, Katie was awarded Volunteer of the Year at Point Reyes for 2019!

So, I'm really happy to invite Katie Ballinger to speak with us today.

DH: Hi Katie! Thanks for being with us.

Katie Ballinger: Hi Doug! Thank you it's an honor.

DH: How long have you been volunteering at Point Reyes and what do you do?

KB: So I started volunteering at Point Reyes in 2015. At that time, I was a tule elk docent. And then, currently, I volunteer as a harbor seal monitor, as well as, I work with you, Doug, in the volunteer engagement office. I'm a volunteer program management assistant there, and, basically, right now, my responsibility, my main one, is publishing the volunteer newsletter every month.

DH: Can you describe some of the things you do as a harbor seal monitor?

KB: Oh, yeah! As a harbor seal monitor, basically, I hike out...my surveys are on Tomales Point, and I hike out and count the number of harbor seal pups and adult harbor seals that I see along the bluffs there. I go out a couple times a month, and do that. Basically, we're just monitoring the populations of harbor seals in the Seashore.

DH: Can you tell me about one of your most memorable moments as a volunteer?

KB: It's really hard to just choose one, I think. I love wildlife, so most of my memorable experiences are wildlife encounters.

I got the chance to see a newborn harbor seal pup take its first swim, and that was really cool.

The last harbor seal survey I went out on, actually saw a long-tailed weasel, along the side of the trail, pop its head up out of a gopher hole, and we locked eyes for a few minutes. That was a pretty neat experience.

And beyond that, I think, times where I got to share wildlife experiences with visitors in the park really stand out to me. Really being able to share that sense of wonder and excitement with someone else. It just gives you a sense of connection with them and a connection with something bigger as well.

I hesitate to call it a spiritual experience, but I would say it almost is a spiritual experience.

DH: Thank you. So, when you aren't volunteering at the seashore, what would we most likely find you doing?

KB: Well, my paying job is as a psychiatrist. In my free time, usually, you'd find me hiking, or birding, or taking natural history classes at the College of Marin. Right now, I've been doing a lot of backyard birding.

DH: What advice would you give someone who is thinking about volunteering at Point Reyes?

KB: I would say go for it. And, also, that I'd be happy to talk with them about different options.

There are so many different opportunities and I think there's really something for everybody. You know, whether it's something that's more citizen science, like harbor seal monitoring, or something where you have more contact with visitors. There are opportunities to really be kind of off on your own working, or working with other people. They're just really so many different roles that you can take.

I think, you know, you can really find something for everyone.

DH: And what is your favorite place to visit at Point Reyes National Seashore?

KB: So, I'm going to say Tomales Point. I really fell in love with that when I was a tule elk docent, and, now, my harbor seal surveys are out there and it just, like, makes me so happy every time I get to go out there.

Plus, you're nearly guaranteed to see tule elk out there...I won't say guaranteed. It can get pretty foggy. But nearly a hundred percent of the time you'll see one...or more than one, actually.

DH: Yeah it is a special place.

KB: Yep.

DH: Well, thank you Katie, for sharing with us your experiences as a volunteer.

KB: Oh, you're welcome! Thanks!

DH: If you are interested in volunteering at Point Reyes National Seashore, please visit our website at nps.gov/pore

Thank you for spending time with us today. We hope you'll all have an opportunity to visit Point Reyes National Seashore in the future!

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Duration:
5 minutes, 51 seconds

Park Ranger and Acting Volunteers-in-Parks Program Manager at Point Reyes National Seashore, Doug Hee, interviews volunteer Katie Ballinger about her most memorable experiences as a harbor seal monitor.

 

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National Volunteer Week 2020 Interview Transcript: Duane Fitzgerald

Doug Hee: Happy National Volunteer Week!

This week we're recognizing and celebrating our fabulous volunteers at Point Reyes National Seashore.

The National Park Service's volunteer program, Volunteers-in-Parks, or VIP, program engages thousands of volunteers across the country each year in accomplishing priority work that would not be done otherwise.

This year happens to be the 50th anniversary of the National Park Service VIP program!

My name is Doug Hee, Park Ranger and acting Volunteers-in-Parks program manager for Point Reyes National Seashore.

I'd like you to meet one of Point Reyes National Seashore's volunteers, Duane Fitzgerald, so she can tell us some stories about her volunteer work.

Hi Duane. Thanks for being with us today.

Duane Fitzgerald: Hello Doug. I'm happy to be here and help you. Tell you about my experiences at Point Reyes.

DH: Thank you.

How long have you been volunteering at Point Reyes and what do you do?

Well, I started in 2004 as a snowy plover docent, and then I was a tule elk docent, and a docent for a winter wildlife docent, and now I am the Sunday volunteer at the lighthouse.

DH: Great.

DF: It's been 16 years since I started.

DH: Yeah! Well what kind of things do you do at the Lighthouse?

DF: Well, I talk to the people about the wonderful Fresnel lens, which...is just an amazing artifact. And I talk about the whales. And try to help people understand how wonderful it is to be out there.

DH: Fabulous!

Can you tell me about one of your most memorable moments as a volunteer?

DF: Well, you know, I thought about that, and, oh my gosh, and can you imagine in 16 years, how many there must have been?

So, I've had many experiences on myself. For example, meeting up with a herd of tule elk in the road and having a standoff for about 15 minutes.

Or the time that we had thousands of lion's head jellyfish come up from the bottom of the ocean, and the whole sea was covered with them close to the lighthouse. That was amazing.

But I tried to think of something where I was...a time that I really was with the volunteers and…so, one of the things that really comes to my mind, is...the day, it was a Mother's Day and all of...everybody that came seemed to have their mother with them. And we were all down at the lighthouse looking out, and that particular day...um...about ten mother and baby whales came by, gray whales came by, and within a term of about an hour and a half. And it was so exciting to see the people see them on Mother's Day. See the mother and daughter you know, and baby. And the whales stopped and played under the lighthouse and it was just a magical experience for everyone.

DH: Great, wow that's fabulous.

When you aren't volunteering at the Seashore, what would we most likely find you doing?

DF: Well I am an artist. I had a jewelry design...national jewelry design manufacturing business for 20 years. I have five children, and four grandchildren. But right now, I am doing fiber and metal sculpture. I work on that. I have a studio at my house. And I also work over at Richmond Art Center and do monitoring in the metal department.

DH: And what advice would you give someone who is thinking about volunteering at Point Reyes?

DF: Oh, I would definitely say do it! It's such a wonderful experience. I feel so privileged to actually have been able to do it...to be there. And you get a chance to help people. You meet some wonderful people from all over the world. And you make some great friends. I've had friends that I went to Mexico to see whales with. And I've been to Yosemite, camping with friends I've met there. So, I would just say, do this if you can. It's a wonderful experience in a wonderful setting. To be with the woods and the ocean. Very exciting!

DH: And what is your favorite place to visit at Point Reyes National Seashore?

DF: Well, I guess you know the answer; it has to be, of course, the lighthouse. Um. I.... If anybody wants to have an amazing experience, walking down the steps to the lighthouse is just a magical experience and time. And seeing the gorgeous setting and the beautiful Fresnel lens and the lighthouse is truly amazing.

However, my second favorite place is Abbotts Lagoon. And I love that because, when you walk out, you get to maybe see river otters or I've seen coyotes up on the dunes, and all the birds that are out there close to the ocean.

And what we've done...my family...for the last three Thanksgivings, that's what we've done, hike to Abbotts Lagoon and actually made turkey sandwiches and sat on the logs that were out by the ocean and had our turkey sandwiches on Thanksgiving Day. That's our favorite place.

DH: How fabulous!

Well, thank you, Duane, for taking the time to share with us, your experiences as a volunteer.

DF: Thank you for having me, Doug.

DH: You're welcome.

If you're interested in volunteering at Point Reyes National Seashore or with the Point Reyes National Seashore Association, please visit the park's website at nps.gov/pore

Thank you for spending time with us today!

We hope you all have an opportunity to visit Point Reyes National Seashore in the future.

Visit our keyboard shortcuts docs for details
Duration:
6 minutes, 41 seconds

Park Ranger and Acting Volunteers-in-Parks Program Manager at Point Reyes National Seashore, Doug Hee, interviews volunteer Duane Fitzgerald about her most memorable experiences as a Lighthouse Visitor Services Volunteer.

Last updated: April 24, 2020

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