National Park Volunteer Vacations

National Park Volunteer Vacations
A working vacation in a national park is a great way to make a difference in preserving nature, and to get a low cost break from the daily rigors. This is not limited to the United States, as national parks the world over seek a few volunteers each year. Usually there is no pay, but if you can stay more than a week, often you get to stay in the park free and meals may be included. Some parks seek volunteers for the entire summer.

Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park utilizes hundreds of volunteers during the summer. Volunteers who work a minimum of 32 hours per week are eligible for free housing, including utilities. Some may receive reimbursement for expenses.
Most volunteers only work for a day or a week, and there is no compensation in these situations. You might help repair a building, or a trail, help with children's programs, or basically anything needed by park officials.

Glacier National Park also wants hosts for its campgrounds. Hosts get to stay free in their camper or tent, and they keep an eye on the campground. They assist other campers and keep park officials informed about facilities and how things are going in the camps.

Glacier National Park
Volunteer Coordinator - Brooke Linford
PO Box 128
West Glacier, Montana 59936
nps.gov/glac/supportyourpark/volunteer.htm

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite uses a lot of volunteers, and there are a lot of people offering to volunteer at the park. There are a few full time, summer long positions, where spaces in campsites are provided.
The park also has a "drop in" volunteer program that works every Friday during summer. Volunteers in this program will be doing things like removing invasive plants and restoring native habitat.
Group projects can also be taken on by scouts, families, churches or schools. Yosemite officials put together a catalog of projects each year. Another program seeks people to work for a month and receive a free campsite, and a small allowance for food.

Yosemite National Park
P.O. Box 577
Yosemite, Calif. 95389
20- 372-0200
nps.gov/yose/supportyourpark/volunteer.htm

Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve

More famous parks attract a lot of volunteers. Some of the more out of the way, or less popular parks, may offer greater opportunities and better deals for people wanting to have a volunteer vacation.
Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve, for instance, is an area in Kansas that requires only 20 hours per week of work in exchange for a free campsite with utilities provided. This park is in eastern Kansas and is part of preserving one of the last standing tallgrass prairies in the nation. The park is also involved in preserving the history of settlers of the old west.
As a volunteer you might work at the visitor center desk, help with a living history demonstration, or help with educational programs.

Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve
2480 KS Hwy 177
Strong City, KS 66869
620-273-8494
nps.gov/tapr/supportyourpark/volunteer.htm

Article Written By James Jordan

James Jordan has been a writer and photographer since 1980. He has worked for newspapers in Arkansas, Tennessee, South Carolina and Kansas, winning state press association awards for writing, photography and page design. In 1995 he received his master's in Christian education and completed two years of Ancient Greek at the graduate level. Jordan holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism.

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