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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. Continue reading