August 1, 2018 | Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore is more than just beaches, with over 50 miles of trails, monthly ranger-led programs, and several species of rare plants. Our volunteers help maintain our park, whether by working in the field to remove bittersweet or staffing the visitor center on busy weekends. Recently, the volunteer office was rebranded as “The Park Connection” under Jim Whitenack, Volunteer Program Manager, with the motto of “connecting people to the park.”
With this in mind, our program aims to reach out to the community, offer more volunteer opportunities, and recognize volunteers for their work. In order to stay connected to our volunteers, we started a monthly MailChimp newsletter highlighting new opportunities and notable volunteers. We’re also in the process of creating brochures, reorganizing our website, and partnering with a local tourism board to develop a new website for our drop-in program. Per the recommendation of one of our volunteers, we marched at the Porter County 4th of July parade for the first time this year and have been tabling at various events in the area.
Since implementing these changes we have seen a steady flow of new volunteer inquiries every week. Rangers enjoy the modern look of the emails and our increased ability to recruit volunteers. We also post archived newsletters on our volunteer website, allowing anyone, not just email subscribers, to stay up to date on our program. Most of all, we want everyone to be able to volunteer and feel like a valuable part of the park. We are working to make volunteering easier and more accessible by offering drop-in volunteering, hosting volunteer socials (featuring s’mores and ice cream, of course!), and making ADA-compliant materials. Our email newsletter is just the start of establishing the Park Connection’s presence in the community.
Link to Park Connection website: https://www.nps.gov/indu/getinvolved/volunteer.htm
Link to July newsletter: https://us17.campaign-archive.com/?u=196c66762e56cdf302c6f13c4&id=0212551675
Link to newsletter archive: https://us17.campaign-archive.com/home/?u=196c66762e56cdf302c6f13c4&id=36b8759861
Written by Mari Patis, 2018 CVA Member at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore