Hi, I’m Claire Finn, the Centennial Volunteer Ambassador at Yosemite National Park.
Last Monday, January 18th, Yosemite hosted its inaugural Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service event from 10 am – 12 pm! Despite some initial weather concerns (it was sleeting up until approximately two minutes before the event started!), we had a small yet dedicated group of volunteers come out to help Facilities shovel snow both behind and in front of the visitor center.
We also had a small interpretive booth to engage visitors passing by in thinking about service and MLK’s legacy, even if they didn’t participate in the service project. One part of the booth was a “In 2016 I will serve by…” social media campaign where visitors wrote how they will serve this year either on a post-it to stick on the Service Board or on a small whiteboard to get their picture taken with.
The second part of the booth engaged MLK’s legacy and civil rights more directly through reading and photograph material about a current debate related to social justice in the Park. In Yosemite, there is talk of potentially renaming of the LeConte Memorial Lodge. Joseph LeConte, a prominent geologist and founder of the Sierra Club, has recently come under renewed public scrutiny for his blatantly racist views (extreme even for his time period) that he published in the late 19th century. Our educational exhibit encouraged visitors to engage in the idea of legacy, and whether or not monuments and dedications to public figures who spread hate should be upheld and discussed or removed and replaced with more appropriate figures. Unfortunately, fewer people than we would have liked actually stopped to look through the material. This, however, is just something we can improve and expand upon next year!
We deeply appreciate the hard work of our volunteers, and what a great way to kick off the Centennial year of service!