Coordinate Efforts

Using volunteers can take some of the workload off of paid park staff.

One favorable example is the San Diego Parks and Recreation’s volunteer web page. It divides opportunities by both the task (habitat restoration, office assistance, etc.) and location (visitor center, Balboa Park lounge, etc.). The page outlines the amount of time required as well as contact information and any requirements to participate.

For example, the library-assistant specifications are: “is 16 years or older; enjoys working with public and assisting people; is familiar with library organization and research.”

Organization And Supervision

Another commendable site is the city of Arlington’s Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources in Virginia. It lists volunteer opportunities and requirement areas such as gardens, nature centers, commissions, advisory councils, youth sports, and even donations to an open-space fund.

Listing items with this level of detail is important because people generally want to volunteer in areas that are of interest to them.

“We base the volunteer opportunities on what people want to do,” said Susan Kalish, the department’s marketing and communications director.

The robust volunteer program started in earnest a couple of years ago when one of the parks was in danger of closing due to budget restraints.

“Citizen volunteers stepped in and helped, and we have built on that effort,” she said. “We continued to structure the volunteer program from there.”

Kalish said there are now two full-time employees coordinating volunteers.

“There is very little we won’t allow volunteers to do, as long as they have proper training and supervision,” she stressed, adding that paid employees are always with volunteers to supervise projects.

An important feature of the program is that volunteers are required to sign a document that outlines exactly what he or she will be doing, as well as the requirements for the job.

“We let them know we have expectations,” Kalish said. “We require that they participate in a project at least once a quarter, and everything is outlined in the agreement they sign, so there is no room for confusion.”

Do any readers have stories or advice about your multi-use parks or volunteers? If so, let me or the PRB editor know, and we’ll share it.

Randy Gaddo served for 15 years as a director in municipal parks and recreation after retiring from 20 years in the U.S. Marine Corps. He developed, wrote, administered, and presented maintenance plans as well as recreation master plans during that time. Gaddo earned his Master’s in Public Administration, and now lives in Peachtree City, Ga. He can be reached at (678) 350-8642 or email

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Related posts:

  1. A Necessary Equal
  2. An Even Playing Field
  3. Park Ambassadors Needed
  4. Management & Mission Q&A
  5. Communication

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