Project overview: Fund a full-time coordinator to facilitate meaningful volunteer opportunities on much-needed projects within the Facilities Management division of the National Park Service.

The backstory: It’s no secret that volunteers play an essential role in Yosemite National Park. Everywhere you go in Yosemite, you’ll see evidence of their efforts — volunteers pull weeds, track bears, greet overnight campers, and staff visitor centers and information booths. The Facilities Management division of NPS is no exception, and relies on generous volunteers to pick up litter, assemble and paint picnic tables, clear ash from campground fire pits, and much more.

Unfortunately, in recent years, already-busy staff in the Facilities Management division have struggled to manage the large volume of volunteer applications while tending to their own jobs as supervisors, maintenance workers, and utility systems operators. Staff also lack the time or skills to appropriately match volunteers with fulfilling and meaningful work, and manage and support them during their tenure.

This year: Thanks to the past support of Yosemite Conservancy donors, there is a simple solution to this challenge, which has already been modeled and vetted by Yosemite’s Vegetation and Ecological Restoration branch. By hiring a full-time Volunteer Coordinator, the Facilities Management division can ensure that important volunteer work is accomplished without a drain on supervisory staff’s valuable time. The VIP Coordinator will be a specialist in both the work that needs to be done (understanding the science, seasonality, and skills behind vegetation work) and in management of volunteers (including supervision, legal considerations, etc). The position eases the way for other NPS staff so that volunteers are a benefit, not a burden. As a bonus, the volunteer experience is improved, and program participants walk away with a deeper connection to Yosemite.

In 2023, the Volunteer in Parks Coordinator for the Facilities Management division will be recruited through outreach to local trade schools, with the aim to find a diverse cohort of applicants with the proper skills and certifications for the job. Hiring a local candidate for this position would both increase the likelihood of identifying and recruiting volunteers with special skills, while also extending the ability of Facilities Management staff to accomplish important project work.

Project partners: Yosemite National Park

Sally Martinez

Facilities Management, Yosemite National Park

Project Notes

"Volunteers in Parks are an important component of Yosemite's staff. Volunteers can contribute hundreds of thousands of hours in a single year, extending our paid workforce many times over; this is the equivalent in staff time of hiring 60 more permanent employees."