The story below is an excerpt from our July/August 2016 issue. For the rest of this story and more like it subscribe today, log in to read our digital edition or download our FREE iOS app. Thank you!
“It was a perfect storm,” says Shenandoah National Park volunteer Ronnie Crisco. “When I responded to the man’s wife’s calls for help, he was lifeless, but I pulled him out of the RV and radioed park emergency services,” says campground volunteer Ronnie Crisco. Fortunately two off-duty EMTs camping nearby provided assistance until the park’s first responders arrived. Amazingly, the man survived, thanks to Crisco’s quick actions.
Ronnie and Caroline Crisco are two of Shenandoah National Park’s thousands of volunteers who serve in many different capacities.
System-wide, 246,000 volunteers donate 6.7 million hours each year to the National Park Service (NPS). This equates to 10 volunteers for every NPS employee. The NPS utilizes volunteers in countless positions, including visitor center staff, campground hosts, administration personnel and trail maintainers. All NPS volunteers choose their time commitment, contributing anywhere from a few hours here and there as time allows, up to an entire season of service.
Shenandoah’s trail maintenance volunteers are an easy-going, enthusiastic bunch that congregate for camaraderie, the joy of open spaces and the personal satisfaction of a hard-day’s work. They are the trail keepers, ensuring every footpath is ready for others to enjoy. They use hand tools, blazing paint, power weeders and chainsaws to keep trails clear, prevent erosion, and keep hikers on the right path. Some volunteers employ rigging, or the use of steel cables, pulleys, grip hoists, and old-fashioned know-how to move boulders and stacks of logs for major repair projects. Others wield traditional tools like crosscut saws and axes to clear blowdowns in designated wilderness areas where mechanized equipment is prohibited.
Like all NPS volunteers, the trail maintainers choose their time commitment by joining scheduled work trips or contributing a few hours here and there as time allows.