Taking pride in being volunteers of Acadia National Park

Neither rain nor temperatures in the 40s could keep hundreds of volunteers from fanning across Acadia National Park’s carriage roads Saturday, to rake leaves and clear drainage ditches, and help protect against winter’s erosion.

Take Pride in Acadia Day

Some of the hundreds of volunteers during a sunnier Take Pride in Acadia Day in 2011. (NPS Photo / D.R. Hunt)

A rite of fall for 23 years, the Friends of Acadia’s Take Pride in Acadia Day is considered one of the most important volunteer efforts in the Maine national park, held the first Saturday every November. By preventing the damage of freeze-thaw cycles, the effort helps maintain the park’s iconic carriage roads for the enjoyment of bikers, walkers, joggers and riders on horse-drawn carriages.

The reward for the volunteers: Pride in a job well done; a traditional “CCC meal” of chili, cornbread and cider (plus a fourth “C” of cake), in a nod to the Civilian Conservation Corps that helped build the carriage roads during the Great Depression; and perhaps a fifth “C” of camaraderie.

America the Beautiful Volunteer Pass

After 250 hours of cumulative volunteer time in Acadia, you can get an America the Beautiful Volunteer Pass that gives you free admission to the park and other federal recreation land for 12 months.

If you missed this year’s Take Pride in Acadia Day, there are plenty of other chances to volunteer in Acadia National Park, and help care for a park that brings joy to more than 2 million visitors a year.

Among some of the rewards of these other volunteer opportunities, beyond the satisfaction of giving back: A free 12-month “America the Beautiful Volunteer Pass” to the park and other federal recreation lands, if you donate a cumulative 250 hours of time; the right to be a “VIP” (Volunteers in Parks) and wear a special patch, if you’ve applied for one of the formal volunteer programs; or a free 2- to 4-week stay in housing on the Schoodic Education and Research Center campus, if you are accepted as an Artist-in-Residence and offer public programs in your particular art form.

Here are some of the other ways to volunteer, depending upon your skills, interests and schedules, as listed on the Friends of Acadia’s Web site:

Volunteers in Parks program at Acadia National Park

If you’re part of the formal Volunteers in Parks program, you’re a “VIP” with the right to wear this patch. (NPS photo)

  • Stewardship volunteers – Drop in on a Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday morning from June through October and help out with outdoor projects on some of the more than 120 miles of hiking trails or 45 miles of carriage roads.
  • Acadia Winter Trails Association – Groom carriage roads in winter for cross-country skiers.
  • Advocacy network – Get e-mail updates about issues to contact lawmakers about, to advocate on behalf of Acadia.
  • Friends of Acadia volunteers – Staff a membership sign-up table at the Jordan Pond House or help in the office or at special events.
  • Schoodic Committee – Work on projects specific to the Schoodic Peninsula section of Acadia, the only part of the park on the mainland.
  • Trenton Village Connector Trail Committee – Help maintain a public walking and nature trail behind the Acadia Gateway Center.
  • Wild Gardens of Acadia Committee – Be a docent and help interpret the gardens to visitors, among other opportunities.

Youth, citizen scientists and artists can all be volunteers of Acadia

The Acadia National Park, Schoodic Institute  and volunteer.gov Web sites offer these listings:

Members of Youth Conservation Corps swing sledge hammers to bust rocks as part of project on Sargent Mountain

From left to right, Liam Hassett, of Cleveland, Ransom Burgess, of Bar Harbor and Billy Brophy, of Hyattsville, Maryland swing sledge hammers to bust stones into tiny pieces for creating a new 30-foot-long causeway atop Sargent Mountain in Acadia National Park. The three served as members of the Youth Conservation Corps in the summer of 2014.

  • Hulls Cove Visitor Center volunteer – From Apr. 15 – Oct. 17, 2015, a 4-1/2 to 6-1/2 month commitment of 6 hours a day, 4 days a week, with duties at the main visitor center, the Sieur de Monts Nature Center or other sites. Free trailer / RV pads with water, sewer and electric hook-ups available for volunteers needing lodging.
  • Education Intern and Teaching Assistant at Schoodic – Multiple 10- to 16-week positions between August and November. Rolling application deadline, best to apply by May 1. Lodging in 2- to 4-bedroom apartments with shared kitchen, living room. Laundry on site.
  • Artist-in-Residence – Application deadline for the 2015-2016 season is Jan. 16, 2015, for 2- to 4-week residencies. Among the types of artists who’ve participated: Painters, photographers, writers, sculptors and dancers or other performers.
  • Acadia Youth Conservation CorpsHigh school students help improve trails and carriage roads, under the supervision of the park’s trail crew. Runs from mid-June through late August.
  • Student Conservation Association interns – Assist with ranger-led programs or work with the fire staff, as part of a nationwide program.
  • Friends of Acadia Ridge Runners and Recreation Technician – Run by the Friends of Acadia, the Ridge Runners hike Acadia’s trails and educate visitors about the “Leave No Trace” principles and conduct field research.
  • Raptor internship – Observe and educate about peregrine falcons and migrating raptors, from summer through fall. In exchange for a 32-hour week, the intern gets a $100 weekly stipend, housing and a $65 uniform allowance. Application deadline usually early March.

    A tour of the Compass Harbor trail at Acadia National Park

    Former Acadia National Park volunteer Jim Allen, standing to the far right, leads a tour of George Dorr’s “Missing Mansion” on the Compass Harbor trail. He and his wife Jan Allen were Acadia VIPs, or members of the Volunteers in Parks program.

  • Education internship – Work with park staff in preparing and presenting programs for 3rd – 8th graders in the classroom and at the park. In exchange for a 32-hour week, intern gets a $100 weekly stipend, housing and a $65 uniform allowance.
  • Citizen science opportunities – Help document migrating raptors, seabirds and even insects through the Schoodic Institute and Acadia National Park programs of Hawk Watch atop Cadillac Mountain, SeaWatch at Schoodic Point and BioBlitz.

If your schedule doesn’t permit signing up for any of the volunteer opportunities, there are always other ways to show your appreciation. Both the Friends of Acadia and the Schoodic Institute, as non-profits, accept tax-deductible donations, and Acadia National Park accepts direct donations.

Take pride in Acadia, whether as a donor or volunteer, or simply as someone who relishes and respects all the park has to offer.

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