Hi everyone! King County Parks Volunteer Program here. With this being National Volunteer Week, we wanted to stop by and do an introduction. While many of you may have worked outside with us, we realize not everyone might know that Parks has a Volunteer Program. So, during this time where we’re using technology to help stay connected, we wanted to take the opportunity to say hi. 😊 We want to start by saying a huge THANK YOU to all of the volunteers (past, present, and future) that help to improve our local parks, trails, and natural areas! And an extra special thanks to our dedicated Parks and Trails Ambassadors. We literally could not do this work without all of you!
We also want to acknowledge that the work we do takes place on the occupied traditional land of the Coast Salish People. They have cared for this land for thousands of years so we recognize we are not the first to help as stewards. (To find out more about Native Land, check out this interactive map: https://native-land.ca/)
What does the Volunteer Program do?
- Our program helps to coordinate and lead community members in service experiences within King County Parks, with the overarching goal of connection and engagement in the health of our parks. Together with our partners, we lead an average of 10,000 volunteers each year performing environmental restoration, park improvement, and building and maintaining trails.
- Often, our work attempts to restore balance to natural sites that have been negatively impacted by humans. This can be due to larger scale impacts such as pollution and climate change, or more regional issues such as the lingering impacts of aggressive weeds that were largely introduced through western colonization.
Who is part of the team?
- Our immediate team includes Lina Rose, Sean Walters, and our newest member, Sahar Arbab. Of course we can’t lead all those volunteers without lots of support!
- We collaborate with (and rely heavily on) the Restoration Program at King County Parks, which at the moment, includes Brian, Kirstie, Holly, Kevin, and Anthony.
- Lots of other Parks employees play a role in leading these experiences and we appreciate all they do to help with volunteer engagement.
- Parks and Trails Ambassadors also take the lead in many of these efforts!
- Additionally, we partner with many organizations who lead volunteers within King County Parks. Some of our current partners are:
What do we value?
- Building connections between people and the land
- A commitment to service learning methodology
- Incorporating an equity lens in our internal and external work
- Relationship-focused partnerships
- Leading with a Growth Mindset
What do volunteers help with?
Tasks at our volunteer opportunities vary, but most tend to incorporate:
- Removing aggressive weeds (also known as noxious weeds)
- Planting native trees, shrubs, and ground-covers during the planting season (~October-February)
- Coming back to maintain sites by removing re-growth of weeds, spreading protective mulch, and adding additional plants
- Potting native plants at our greenhouse to be planted at a later time
- Building and maintaining trails
- Picking up litter and other debris
- And more!
What do we hope volunteers walk away with?
We strive to create space for all volunteers to have a meaningful experience in their own way. Some things we hope folks might get out of our time together include:
- A stronger connection to the land
- Learning something new about the natural world
- A strengthened sense of community
- A feeling of accomplishment
- A greater understanding of the human connection to (and impact on) local land, waterways, and wildlife
- A greater understanding of the impacts of climate change
- A greater understanding of environmental justice
During this time of distancing, we still want to stay connected! Public engagement is what drives us in our work, so while we can’t be with you in person, know that we are working with our partners to bring you more digital content, checking on volunteer sites, and thinking creatively for the future.
When our volunteer events pick up again, keep us in mind! By that time, we will likely need a lot of helping hands. Also, if there is anything you’d like to learn from us, please let us know.