Centennial Volunteer Ambassador for Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park
Saturday I got to participate in the huge SCA FIND YOUR PARK – Earth Day 2016 Service Event at the Lands End area of Golden Gate National Recreation Area.
After setting up the location, I staffed the registration table where we welcomed volunteers and got their waivers filled out – using fancy apps no less!
Then, as one of four speakers, I spoke to the crowd of over 200 volunteers and group leaders. Speaking for the SCA is fun because I am so genuinely passionate about the organization and everything they do.
My speech (more or less):
Hello! My name is Allison Joyce and I am the Centennial Volunteer Ambassador for the East Bay National Parks: Eugene O’Neill National Historic Site, Port Chicago Naval Magazine National Memorial, John Muir National Historic Site, and Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park. If you haven’t been to any of these East Bay Parks, I highly suggest them; I promise they are worth their long names.
My time as a Centennial Volunteer Ambassador has been a whirlwind. It seems like just yesterday I arrived in the Bay Area and was bombarded with advice about how to find a place to live, the maze of different highways which are all some variation on the number “80”, and what being “scent-free” means.
Now it’s been 10 and a half months. What began as an effort to encourage my new NPS colleagues to give this 23-year-old Texan some work has suddenly become a joyful juggle of projects and meetings, leadership and volunteer high-fives.
My experience is just one example of what makes the Student Conservation Association so special. This organization does something that feels increasingly rare in our (almost) 24-hour virtual reality: they provide real, hands-on, working experience in the conservation field. You don’t have to be a federal employee, you don’t have to be a veteran, you don’t have to have a wealth of experience or education. You just have to be passionate about giving back to our Earth and willing to put your shoulder to the wheel.
So thank you to the SCA for connecting people to their National Parks!
As you all (hopefully) know by now, 2016 is the Centennial Year of the National Park Service. This milestone provides an opportunity for (certainly my favorite) government organization to take a hard look at its inclusion and relevancy to every single American. It’s no secret that there are gaps in who feels like the National Parks belong to them. The SCA is one of the organizations closing this gap. They in the forefront of a revolution of bridging new audiences to valuable work experience with the National Park Service and that deserves a round of applause!
Still jittery with the adrenaline of speaking into a microphone, I gathered the seventeen people assigned to Group Eleven that I was solo leading in trash pickup at Lands End. I gave them a safety orientation and a brief background about why their work is important and a reminder that the tiniest pieces of litter are often the most dangerous to wildlife. We worked together for about 3 hours, with my group scattered from by the road at the sign, to the medians in between parked rows of cars, to down by the Sutro Baths!
While reaching down to pinch up a water bottle with my trash grabber I had that familiar pang and I began to rethink everything I said to the crowd, “I’m sure I said the wrong thing! I sounded too boastful! I muttered!” And then I stopped myself. Here I was in such a glorious place, working with my hands, using my muscles to climb up and down the stairs, all while explaining why my volunteers should visit the East Bay National Parks. How on earth could my mind be anywhere but right there?
That’s why I love what I do. That’s why I want this as a career. When I’m in these special places, and certainly Northern California has many, I feel present. When I’m around such enthusiastic and generous people, using my body for the Earth and our Parks, I feel grounded.
So let’s hear it for the SCA for creating experiences like mine for thousands of people across America! If you’re considering serving with the SCA, don’t hesitate. Learn more and get involved – you won’t regret it.
Allison Joyce (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Centennial Volunteer Ambassador
- Eugene O’Neill National Historic Site
- John Muir National Historic Site
- Port Chicago Naval Magazine National Memorial
- Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park