This past Thursday, August 6, Sequoia and Kings Canyon held their annual Volunteer appreciation dinner at Beetle Rock, a super rustic building here at the park with an amazing view! Around 40 of the permanent volunteers showed up to the event, which was an awesome turn out. Some of the volunteers that I met have been volunteering here for over 50 years! Pretty crazy…!

It was a night to honor our wonderful volunteers and the incredible work they achieve here in the park. From monitoring water quality, to staffing the fire lookouts, maintaining trails, providing visitor programs, creating artworks, restoring native plants, and so much more. We are very fortunate to work with so many wonderful people who are committed to Sequoia and Kings Canyon!

We provided a buffet for our volunteers, followed by a speech from our very own Superintendent, Woody Smeck, then a special presentation from our guest speaker Costa Dillon*. It was definitely a fun and filling night, and of course, our volunteers love to be recognized and appreciated, so the VIP program awarded everyone with certificates and SWAG!

*Costa Dillon’s NPS career spanned 35 years. He was superintendent at Indiana Dunes National Monument, Homestead National Monument of America, Fire Island National Seashore, and the Horace M. Albright Training Center at the Grand Canyon in addition to serving in many other parks. He has won countless awards and is considered an innovative thinker and leader. We had the privilege of hosting Costa this past week where he presented at the appreciation dinner, conducted a ‘brown bag’ for all staff about collaboration and innovation, and also lead a private discussion with my VIP team.

After everyone had left, and we were almost done cleaning up Beetle Rock, my coworker Erica and I looked outside, immediately ran out on the rocks and could not stop screaming because the sunset was absolutely GORGEOUS! Perfect ending, I’d say 🙂

P.S. I wrote the Facebook post about this event and it got over 2,500 likes!! (maybe it’s because the picture is AWESOME….but still, pretty neat!) 11802744_974016412619076_2730996708227936784_o