When you get involved, you feel the sense of hope and accomplishment that comes from knowing you are working to make things better. We have this quote posted on an office wall of the Interpretive Center, and nowhere is it better exemplified than in our volunteer program.
Volunteers have helped keep the wheels turning at the Interpretive Center since even before opening day. Trail Tenders has kept an hour count of volunteer time since 1992, which shows over 600 people volunteering over 239,150 hours! Some donated two hours; some donated hundreds. Fifty-eight of those volunteers donated over 1000 hours. And of those, seven donated over 4000 hours!!!! The funny things is, none of those volunteers started by saying “I’m here to donate 1000 hours of my time.” Most volunteers start with the idea of giving it a try, or helping just for one project, and then find a niche, find something they especially like, and you know what they about how time flies when you’re having fun.
The talents and generosity of our volunteers is a big part of what keep the Interpretive Center an interesting and fun place for our visitors, who consistently compliment the customer service and great programs offered by friendly, knowledgeable volunteers. Our behind the scenes volunteers have planned events, written books, built covered wagons, written grants, pulled weeds, picked up trash.
Our outreach volunteers have staffed booths at fairs and festivals, walked in parades, provided talks at schools. Customer service volunteers answer questions, give orientation to tour and school groups, staff the gift shop, and hand out lots of maps and tourist information. Interpretive volunteers provide well-researched programs, demonstrations and activities at events, Dutch oven lunches for visiting groups, and demonstration tables where visitors get a close-up hands-on opportunity to learn. A lot of different talents, a lot of wonderful people, and some pretty awesome potlucks and parties over the years.