There are several facets to Alaska State Parks "Volunteers In Parks" Program.
Read on to find out how you can help!
Full Time Positions
Alaska State Parks has approximately 150 full time positions each year. A catalog is printed each September on available positions for the coming summer and following winter. It contains general information, position descriptions and an application. A copy can be requested from the volunteer coordinator (see below) or check out the rest of this web site for the same information.
Nearly half of these full time positions are campground hosts. Hosts live in the campground and assist the ranger with campground maintenance and visitor contact. Hosts are provided with a campsite, uniform and a small subsistence payment. Hosts provide their own RV or trailer to live in.
The other positions cover several job types, such as archaeological assistant, trail crew, ranger assistant, natural history interpreter, park caretaker and some winter positions. Several of these positions qualify for field experience and college internship credit. Volunteer/Interns are provided with uniforms, a small subsistence payment, and rustic housing, usually shared.
Volunteer/Interns positions are advertised nationally and are very attractive to non-residents, since housing is provided for some of the positions. Volunteers are responsible for their own transportation to Alaska.
Some people "drop in" to their local park office or ranger station and ask to volunteer. These people either have specific projects they would like to do or are open to staff suggestions and the needs of the park. Some people are there only for a day and others return on a regular basis. Most of these volunteers work as they can, when they can. Past projects have varied from botanical studies of a park to weeding flower beds at a visitor center.
Various parks will set aside certain days as work days to accomplish certain tasks. Trail Days in Chugach State Park and Clean Up Day on the Kenai River are examples.
Park Watch was started in the fall of 1992 in response to the high rate of vandalism at trailheads and other facilities in Chugach State Park. The public response was overwhelming - over 70 people signed up to participate in the program.
Orientations are set up for park watch training. Fund raising and donations, from businesses and individuals, purchase field equipment. Through the Park Watch Coordinator, itself a volunteer position, teams of trained volunteers are scheduled to watch a facility for a certain time period.
An extension of the program is Park Watch Neighbors, for those who live near park facilities. Emphasis, so far, has been at Hillside locations in Chugach State Park. Those involved in the program hope to see it expand throughout Chugach and into other state parks as well. The foundation of Park Watch is to deter crime, not to catch criminals.
Chugach State Park started this program in 1992. Organizations sign an agreement to maintain trails. The agreement states how Parks will support the group and what maintenance work the group will do. Anchorage Snowmobile Club, King Career Center - ASD, REI and the Mountain Bike Division of the Arctic Bike Club are some of the associations who have signed on.
In the past, Alaska State Parks has been host to Youth Services International (YSI) - formerly Operation Raleigh. YSI arranges trips and projects for groups of young people throughout the world. In Alaska State Parks, they have done a variety of tasks; trail maintenance, cabin and bridge building are a few.
Boy Scouts have helped with various projects for State Parks. Often, a Boy Scout member will organize a project to earn his eagle patch.
Throughout the state, there are "Friends of " organizations for a particular park area. (i.e. Friends of State Parks, Mat-Su). These organizations perform tasks limited only by the group's imagination. Trail work, fund raising and interpretive programs are only a few of the benefits Alaska State Parks have received from these people.
Stream Watch is an award winning volunteer program that promotes river stewardship projects on the Kenai Peninsula. Contact Stream Watch for one day or on- going stewardship opportunities or call 907-260-5449 for more information.
Citizen Advisory Boards
Some parks have citizen advisory boards. Members of these boards volunteer their time and are chosen through an established process. These boards assist the park staff in management decisions and bridge the gap between park staff and park users.
For more information:
What ever your interests or talents, you can be a part of the protection and preservation of a small piece of this incredible land called Alaska. For more information on the VIP program, contact your local park office or the volunteer coordinator. If there is not an office in your location, call the closest one for information on outlying ranger stations.
Note: Volunteers must be 18 years old or older. Exceptions are made only for residents belonging to such groups as Boy Scouts or King Career Center. Volunteers must also be US citizens.
Northern Area Office
Mat-Su/Copper R. Area Office
Chugach Area Office
Kenai/PWS Area Office
Kodiak Area Office
Southeast Area Office