For 6 months, Marlene Cosner was dreaming of this day – to be among the volunteers of Acadia to give back to the park on National Trails Day, the first Saturday in June. Blustery weather, temperatures in the 40s making it feel more like November, and the threat of rain in the air weren’t going to dissuade her.
“I traveled 800 miles to do this,” said Cosner of Harrisburg, PA, in between vigorous raking of leaves out of drainage ditches along Schooner Head Path. “This makes me so happy to be able to give back to the park.”
Cosner, who first visited Acadia at the age of 12 and later honeymooned here, was the sole drop-in volunteer. “If she didn’t show up today we would have cancelled,” said Lucie Marshall, volunteer stewardship assistant for the Friends of Acadia (FOA), who joined Cosner and volunteer crew leader Jim Linnane in the leaf raking along 0.3 mile of the village connector trail that joins Compass Harbor with Schooner Head Overlook in the park.
Cosner wasn’t the only die-hard. Saturday’s poor weather also didn’t stop a previously scheduled group of volunteers of Acadia from providing a day of service.
Eight University of New England graduate students put their strong backs to work, helping to haul a total of 150 pounds of soil to help restore the summit of Sargent Mountain, hiking from Waterfall Bridge via Hadlock Brook Trail and Sargent South Ridge, up to the top, according to Nikki Burtis, FOA stewardship coordinator.
Plenty of diverse opportunities for volunteers of Acadia
With Acadia’s visitation at high levels, difficulty hiring seasonal workers and continued resource constraints, the hundreds of volunteers who provide thousands of hours of service each year through FOA and National Park Service programs could be more important than ever.
Whether it’s for a few hours or for a season, here are some ways volunteers of Acadia can give back, just as Cosner and the University of New England students did on National Trails Day:
- Drop-in Stewardship Volunteer Program – Every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, 8:15 am to 12:15 pm, from June through October, weather permitting. The drop-in site, which used to be by the park headquarters, is now off the far end of the Hulls Cove Visitor Center parking lot and will be marked with signs on drop-in days. The upcoming project schedule is posted on the FOA website and transportation is provided to the day’s worksite.
- Docent at Wild Gardens of Acadia – Training provided, and weekday and weekend opportunities available.
- FOA membership table at Jordan Pond House or year-round office volunteer
- Take Pride in Acadia Day – Held first Saturday in November, raking leaves and clearing drainage ditches on carriage roads to get them ready for winter.
- Earth Day Roadside Cleanup – Picking up trash along Route 3, Route 233 and other roadways.
- Season-long volunteer opportunities – Information about applying to be an Artist-in-Residence, campground host, education volunteer, visitor services volunteer, interpretation volunteer or seasonal bird migration volunteer can be found on the park website.
- Save Our Summits Hike-a-thon on June 21 – Backpack bags of soil up either Sargent or Penobscot to help with the restoration of those summits. Registration required by June 16. A collaborative effort of Acadia National Park, FOA and the Schoodic Institute.
As Cosner raked leaves along Schooner Head Path during the drop-in volunteer stint on National Trails Day, she reminisced about how her parents first brought her and her brother to visit Acadia decades ago, an occasion “that started the lifelong pull,” bringing her back for her honeymoon and several other visits.
A registered nurse and volunteer firefighter who’s now a full-time caregiver for her 90-year-old father, Cosner was able to get a couple of weeks off when her husband, a firefighter, used paid vacation time to take over the caretaking duties. “This is taking care of me, being here,” Cosner said, in between pulling the rakefuls of leaves.
She loves the feeling of caring for Acadia so much, she plans on dropping in to volunteer again on Tuesday.