This is part two in my series. For part one, please click here.
Four words –
These four words help capture the essence of what the Centennial Volunteer Ambassador (CVA) program hopes to accomplish.
Taken from the Department of Interior’s (DoI) Youth Initiative (found here: https://www.doi.gov/youth/about/), these four words help begin to put the CVA program into context. I would strongly recommend that you visit the above link and learn about the DoI youth initiative if you are not already familiar with the plan. In short, the initiative aims to expand recreational, educational, volunteer, and career opportunities for millions across all public lands.
What do Play, Learn, Serve, and Work mean for the CVA program and how do they affect what we do?
The official tagline for the CVA program states that the program is “a 52 week professional internship position designed to support designated park units in connecting more people to their National Parks through service-learning, service, and community engagement programs and activities.”
We can already see how serve is going to be a big component of the program, but how about the others?
Let’s look at these four words and how we can relate them our program’s goals.
Play – We should ensure that volunteering is a enjoyable and engaging experience. Volunteers should have fun during their time volunteering. If not, they will not return and will discourage others from volunteering as well. We want to create a volunteer that will want to return to their parks and encourage others to tag along for years to come
Learn – We should create volunteering experiences that are educational. This can be teaching visitors about the importance of native plants during a seed-cleaning and seed-ball making event, the significance of a historic site they are restoring, or about how water conservation at home can help protect their parks. Big or small, these lessons incorporated into a day of service can teach people the impact of their work and helps instill a sense of accomplishment in volunteers.
Serve – We should strive to establish a variety of volunteer experiences. Volunteer opportunities should be both rewarding and beneficial to meet the needs of the volunteer and the needs of the park. Expanding volunteer programs and opportunities is the main focus for our program and where most of our efforts will be directed. It is important to remember that we need to incorporate the other components to make the best possible volunteer experiences we can.
Work – We should provide ways for young adults to get valuable experiences that will help them as they move forward in their careers. Opportunities should go beyond the basics and should include chances to get real, hands-on experience in more specific and technical parts of park operations. We need to provide skill-building and career-building opportunities. This is also where we CVAs land. We represent 70 young adults who are gaining valuable experience working with the National Park Service and (hopefully) making steps towards where we want to go in the future.
By embracing all four parts of the DoI Youth Initiative, we can help grow our volunteer programs and shape them into more effective programs that will create more substantial and rewarding experiences for the millions of volunteers that we hope to reach in the coming years.
It is with this basis that we can begin to accomplish the three main goals I outlined for the program in my first post.
Bonus: my park put out a press release about the program and my involvement. This article can be found here.