I always knew from an early age that I enjoyed helping others and making a difference in whatever way I could. I always and still do jump at the chance to lend a helping hand and who knew that this passion for helping others through volunteering would lead me to a possible career as a volunteer coordinator.
In high school I had the opportunity to play a bigger part in my community by volunteering with my high school Key Club and my Venture Crew. Whenever I was not studying I was volunteering and in a three year period I volunteered over four hundred hours of community service. I would never trade those hours for anything because those volunteer opportunities provided me with invaluable friends, skills, references, experiences and much much more than I will ever know. It was during that time that the ground work was being laid for the possibility of me becoming a volunteer coordinator and even more importantly laying the ground work for me to become an active citizen in my community.
In my first year of college I decided to focus solely on my school work and take time out from volunteering. I came to this decision because I felt like all of my attention needed to be focused on my major because this was supposed to lead me to my full time career. I believe that it was good to take this time away from volunteering because it made me realize during that time that a part of me was missing and it made me appreciate volunteering opportunities even more.
After my break from volunteering I did not yet come to my aha moment that I could possibly turn my passion for volunteering into something more. At this point I decided to dive feet first into every volunteer opportunity which led me to becoming very active at my University’s Volunteer and Service Learning Center and their alternative break program. I participated in a few of the local alternative breaks as well as a few that took place out of the area such as helping Habitat for Humanity build houses, working with New York Cares on Hurricane Sandy relief and even going to Grand Canyon National Park to volunteer with their Wildland Fire program.
The trip to Grand Canyon National Park was a definitely a turning point for me in what I consider my right path. I had the opportunity to pick my trip cause, location, and even my team. I am thankful that I applied to be an alternative break leader because it gave me the experience of planning and following through with all of the different volunteer trip logistics from start to finish. It was during this trip that I had the chance to meet my current boss, Ranger Todd Nelson. Todd was the one who first informed me that there was such a thing as an Alternative Break Citizenship School and that in fact he and Break Away would host this school and it would take place at the Grand Canyon that summer. When he told me about his school and what it entailed I knew that I wanted to take part.
I applied to be a site leader at the Alternative Break Citizenship School and excitingly enough I was selected. This was another amazing chance to come back to the park and this time help in a different way. I along with several other site leaders were able to help Break Away and Ranger Todd help at this school to train the many students who attended about the many different aspects of an alternative break and also during this time help encourage the students to become environmental stewards for their public lands.
After the Alternative Break Citizenship School I said my goodbyes and went back home where I decided to try out a full time job as a student recruiter at a local college. I really enjoyed the people that I was able to meet and the skills that I was able to gain from this student affairs position, but when Todd sent out an e-mail telling me and many of his junior rangers about the SCA (Student Conservation Association) & NPS (National Park Service) and AmeriCorps Centennial Volunteer Ambassador Internship position I jumped at the chance.
I immediately applied and a few days later Todd called me to offer me the position and I gladly accepted. Here I set several months into my internship looking back at the path that led me to become a Centennial Volunteer Ambassador which has provided me the chance to gain real hands on experience as a volunteer coordinator in a National Park setting. Being a Centennial Volunteer Ambassador at Grand Canyon National Park finally gave me that aha moment and realization that my passion for volunteering can turn into something much more a job with a purpose fit perfectly for me and my hopes to inspire others to become just as passionate if not more about volunteering and becoming an active citizen in their community. This has definitely been an unexpected and once in a lifetime position and I am glad I took a chance and said yes to becoming a Centennial Volunteer Ambassador.