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New to vounteering - need guidance


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My normal MO is to jump into researching new activity.  I realize, after watching for some time, that the folks who post on these forums have a lot of experience and a lot of good advice.  (Many of us also have a lot of other things, too.)  Given this depth of knowledge my first research stop will be here.

Jinx and I have been full time for three years.  Until now due to health issues we haven't seriously considered working.  Recent improvements mean we can stay on the road for a few more years.  This leads us to think volunteering for a couple of months might be fun.  A month or two might also be a small enough bite to figure out if we like it without committing for a long period of time. We are fully scheduled until 12/1/21.  We will in Florida with scheduled volunteering at a golf tournament beginning Nov and will winter in FL unless something interesting turns up here.  Next year we are busy 5/6 -8/1 (planned grandchild time and bucket list stuff) but are open after that.  We are 90% open beginning winter '22, including where we winter. We've had decades of Maine winters and no longer "do" snow.  I like fall but signs that say "Bridge ices Before Road" mean we're too far north for winter. I spent eight years camping with Uncle Sam and had a six week bike camping trip. Those were decades ago.  I no longer sleep on the ground.

I would prefer some sort of interpreter gig but expect CG host and cleaning bathrooms is more likely.  While I can blunder along at rough carpentry, RV repair, solder and turn a wrench, I am not a handyman.  I can mow a lawn, drive a small tractor, fell a tree, handle timber including building a cabin, repair boats and have a have a lot of experience being outdoors.  Jinx has more office experience.  Both of us type. (Given the number of errors I've corrected I'm not sure that I qualify.) We are reasonably fit; she is age 60's and I am 70's.  We have no health issues that prevent us from most jobs.

We have a 2006 37" Carriage with a major rebuild in 2019.  We have and LP generator and refrigerator, but no solar and no inverter.  We have almost exclusively camped FHU/50.  We can go about anywhere so long as travel to and from that anywhere doesn't involve winter. (Read: Not Rockies or Pacific NW in late Sept to October on).  We would prefer not to dry camp but can do 30A and pump or dump (get blue wagon). 

Withing these constraints (yes, I think we are asking alot.)

1.  Can we realistically volunteer somewhere for only a month or two?

2.  What resources are available to find volunteer positions?

3.  What should be know about volunteering?

4.  What should we do or not do?

5.  Something I haven;t thought of?

A solid plus would be something that would take us by Carhenge, NE.  Oh, and thanks for taking the time to read this lengthy post.

Wayne & Jinx
2017 F-350 diesel, dually
2006 Carriage Carri-Lite 36KSQ

Edited by Jinx & Wayne
Incorrect statement.
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1.  Can we realistically volunteer somewhere for only a month or two?

This is possible with many state parks and similar agencies. We have been places that asked as little as 1 month but most federal agencies want 3 months or longer. You just need to investigate the places you are interested in. 

6 minutes ago, Jinx & Wayne said:

2.  What resources are available to find volunteer positions?

There are quite a few, with the largest one bing volunteer.gov for federal agencies and some state ones. The US Fish & Wildlife Service has their own volunteer page as well and that same thing is true for the National Park Service.  All states have park websites and most all of them also seek volunteers, many for as little as 1 month. Another source that we have used is the magazine, Workamper News which has advertisements for many places that one might not otherwise think of.

For further information about volunteering, I suggest that you take a look at what we have on our website on the practice as we did our first RV volunteer position in 2000 and our most recent one was with the North Dakota State Parks in 2019. We have now completed 38 different volunteer positions and plan to do a few more as health allows. We have found it a very enjoyable way to travel and to learn and experience new things. 

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We've volunteered a lot during our 16 years of full-timing.  Kirk gave some good resource information and as he stated, the national parks will usually want a 3 month commitment.  Fish and Wildlife shorter times and state parks shorter times.  If you want interpretative Oregon State Parks are a good choice.  We gave lighthouse tours at Heceta Head Lighthouse & I see they have an opening for 2022. We also did South Manitou Island Lighthouse summers in Michigan - Sleeping Bear Dunes Nat'l Lakeshore.  Also gave tours at Kartchner Caverns State Park, AZ.  Check the park volunteer sites for more openings.  Good luck!  It gives you a good feeling to help our parks out since they are so short-funded.  They will all have space for your RV.  We also volunteered at a local school with their early elementary reading program.  Many volunteer opportunities out there and with a little experience they will then be easier to come by.

https://stateparks.oregon.gov/index.cfm?do=get-involved.volunteer-opening&oppId=872

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Volunteering varies a lot depending on the facility and the managers.  Activities and duties vary greatly across the parks in the same system. 

We have volunteered at 2 state parks in Texas that we will never volunteer for again as long as they have the current managers.  Overall, we are most satisficed with the National Wildlife Refuges.  There are several pages on Facebook that you can ask about experiences at various locations.

We have found a few shorter term positions at places the volunteers had to leave due to health or family reasons and the park will happily accept a shorter term volunteer.

Ken

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At Rocky Mountain Nat'l Park we succeeded in splitting the 3-month requirement with another couple but don't count on that happening often.

The big parks like the 3-month commitment because they don't have to be constantly training. Rocky Mountain has over 1,000 volunteers a season.   Smaller parks are more laid-back.

Edited by 2gypsies
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  • 2 months later...

Just finished 4 months in Colorado at a State Park.  All of the above is good, useful advice. We knew ahead of time we were interested in CO (tired of summer heat) and had visited several parks prior to retiring and having time available.

Suggest you check out any State Parks website for opportunities. Research carefully to be sure what is being asked for fits with what you can/want to do.  Time frames are usually listed in the opportunities.

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10 hours ago, jblo said:

Just finished 4 months in Colorado at a State Park. 

It's nice hearing a good report. We have volunteered in a lot of places but no CO state parks. Most recent was a ND state park and that was a good experience also. We really have never had a bad volunteer experience with a state park in any state, only some better than others. 

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