Contributing to a state park’s success
Volunteers have long played an important role in campgrounds and parks across the United States, and North Dakota is no different.
Campground hosts have volunteered at ND Parks and Recreation Department State Parks for several years says Fort Stevenson State Park Manager Chad Trautman.
Fort Stevenson has taken its volunteer VIP program to the next level with volunteers playing a valuable role assisting with the park’s array of special events: Whether it’s placing luminaries or taking photos of a February nighttime “Full Moon Hike,” greeting hikers on the June National Trails Day hike, or helping park vehicles at one of North Dakota’s premier fishing events, the North Dakota Governor’s Cup in July, the opportunity is there for someone to contribute to an event’s success.
The park formalized “job descriptions” of the role volunteers play at each event in 2021, Trautman described, to help match a volunteer’s interest and strengths with the task. For example, people who enjoy meeting, visiting, and working with people often volunteer as event greeters and program assistants.
Others preferring to put their hands to work can volunteer with facility maintenance such as basic grounds care or facility repairs. People with a love of nature can maintain and monitor bluebird nest boxes, help collect native plant and grass seeds, dig in the dirt with landscaping projects or take nature and wildlife photos.
And folks with a flair for history and education can assist staff interpreters with campfire programs. A retired nurse volunteered to help maintain the park’s hiking and interpretive trails while camping at Fort Stevenson in 2021, Trautman added.
The number of volunteers for each event varies. While only one or two volunteers can be a valuable asset for the Feb. 19 Full Moon Hike, Trautman said at least six volunteers would be beneficial for the Jan. 22 Flakes of Fury Fat Tire Bike Race – whether it’s helping with registration or keeping race time. “Maple Sugaring Day (April 9), we could use a lot [of volunteers] – maybe up to 10 people,” he suggested.
Expanding the park’s volunteer program and defining volunteer duties grew from interested people visiting the park and asking if there were ways they could assist. The program began in 2020, with the park refining it last year to better match volunteers with their interests.
The park is three miles south of Garrison on the peninsula nestling de Trobriand and Garrison bays of Lake Sakakawea. Interested volunteers can contact the park at (701) 337-5576.