Joey Negreann – Pinnacles National Park


 

The Unforeseen Perks of Being in Wine Country

 

A few months ago the volunteer office received a request to host 90 volunteers from the Kendall-Jackson Winery production facility in the Salinas Valley. A request of this size might be routine for larger parks as they get corporate groups more regularly. However, for Pinnacles this was an amazing request and we were excited for the challenge of hosting a group of this size. Moreover, they were interested in volunteering on the West Side of the park which has a less infrastructure then the bustling East Side (but better views of the volcanic formations).

Kendall-Jackson recently started their company wide volunteer program in response to the fires in Northern California this past summer. They were interested in helping out the surrounding communities located near their facilities. Twice a year their employees are encouraged to find a volunteer project, one facility wide project and a smaller one within their work groups. We were asked to host the facility wide project.

Our work started months ago working with both the Maintenance Division and Resource Management to assess park needs on the West Side. Maintenance was interested in having sand bags filled to use in the event of flooding on the West. Working with the Vegetation Crew we surveyed a few sites where they have been managing non-native plant species, mainly Italian Thistle and Summer Mustard. They were also interested in having volunteers help plant native grass seeds near the visitor center. We added a litter abatement project on the trails and we were ready.

The volunteers arrived and after a short introduction we split up in to teams and were off to the work sites. Working incredibly diligently the volunteers completed every project we had for them and were eager to do more. At the end of the day we had 100 sandbags filled, 100 pounds of seed planted and watered, 10 miles of trails cleaned, and two fields cleared of Italian Thistle and Summer Mustard. We then meet down at the picnic area for some lunch and wrap up of the day. With some closing words from my supervisor our work was done. The volunteers had a chance to hike to the Balconies Caves and enjoy the rock formations, as well as visit the interpretation table we set up and reflect on the day. We fielded many requests from individuals to come back and volunteer. Creating connections with the surrounding communities is crucial and I feel an important part of why the Centennial Volunteer Ambassador program exists. As the largest volunteer group the park has ever hosted on the West Side it was a rousing success. We look forward to hosting them next year!

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I was happy to be apart of such a great team that was able to put on this project without even breaking a sweat!
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(No wine was consumed in the writing of this blog post)