Valley Forge celebrated its Centennial year National Public Lands Day in a big way with service projects, a stewardship expo, giveaways for the volunteers, and a special recognition for a VIP who achieved an exceptional amount of service.
Almost 200 volunteers assembled and successfully completed 14 projects throughout the park. There were Girl Scouts painting cannons, YMCA youth picking up trash, Outdoor Afro removing invasive crayfish, and numerous corporate groups weeding, painting, and mulching around the park. Maintenance and Natural Resources staff did an excellent job of leading projects, and Interpretation rangers joined in to lead a brand new project: artillery polishing.
Ranger Pat (dressed as a crayfish) gets ready to lead a Crayfish Corps session.
The morning began with a Stewardship Expo featuring several local community partners, including the National Parks Conservation Association and the Appalachian Mountain Club. REI was also present in many ways – they provided breakfast, t-shirts for all volunteers, and joined in on a trails project. The opening welcome by Superintendent Kate Hammond included the presentation the 1777 Patriot Award, a unique award created by the park during the Centennial to honor VIPs who performed a minimum of 1,777 hours of lifetime service. Bethany Hare, the recipient, leveraged her time at VAFO to now realize her career as the Assistant Manager at Delaware Canal State Park.
Villanova students did a great job polishing artillery.
The park also took advantage of a recent partnership with the National Charity League-Valley Forge Chapter, who provided eight volunteers to assist with event logistics such as checking in volunteers and parking.
Successful partnership with the National Charity League, increasing our volunteer capacity!
Why was the event a success? The Stewardship Expo exhibitors had a high level of exposure to participants, park staff were pleased with the great work volunteers did, volunteers felt like they accomplished meaningful service, and everyone walked away with an REI t-shirt, Volunteers-in-Parks bandanna, PNC reusable shopping bag, and fee-free pass to federal lands.