My name is Bryce Yoder and I am a Centennial Volunteer Ambassador for the National Park Service at the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial. For those of you who don’t know what or where that is.. its the Arch and the Old Courthouse in downtown St Louis. I’m working here for 9 months with the goal of increasing volunteerism within our park, strengthening partnerships with other organizations and non-profits, and getting the community engaged with our park!
I’m originally from Harrisonburg, Virginia. I’ve worked in Shenandoah National Park and Yosemite National Park volunteering with various biology related projects and internships. I have a BA in environmental sustainability. I love anything outdoorsy, cycling, going to rock shows, and reading. Batman is the greatest superhero.
I’ve actually been at Jefferson National Expansion Memorial for over a month now, but I’ve finally got PIV and park email access. So this is a re-post from what I’ve already blogged on my other WordPress account in September. Enjoy!
Alright, so my title here at the park is a bit confusing so here’s a short post to get you up to speed about what I’ll be doing.
For the National Park Service’s 100 year anniversary, the Student Conservation Association (SCA) has developed Centennial Volunteer Ambassador (CVA) positions for parks all around the country. I am serving at the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial (JNEM) in downtown St. Louis. The goal of the program is to build a larger constituency for the park system by strengthening public engagement, creating programs and partnerships with local organizations to get new demographics involved, and increasing the size of our volunteer base so that our park can continue to grow after our service terms are over.
In terms of concrete numbers and stats, my personal goals as a CVA at this park are to:
- Increase the number of volunteers by 10%
- Increase the number of on-going partnerships with organizations by 3
- Conduct or attend 10 or more new outreach events and increase community member engagement by 10%
- Create more than a 5% increase in volunteer output (specific work/accomplishments achieved by volunteers)
- To be deliberate in engaging with underrepresented groups and new demographics
“To connect people to parks in the next century, the NPS must develop and nurture life-long connections between the public and parks – especially for young people”. – A Call to Action, 2013
This being my third park service gig, I’ve seen first hand how important volunteers are to the functioning and efficiency of our parks. In the summer of 2014 I was one of those volunteers; I was part of the electrofishing crew at Shenandoah National Park in Luray, Virginia. Growing up and living in Harrisonburg, Virginia, I’ve spent a lot of time at this park. I camped with my family, hiked, backpacked, and learned how to fly fish here.
Being a part of the volunteer program in Shenandoah National Park was extremely fulfilling. I got marketable on-the job experience in the field of conservation biology, further clarified my career goals, and met some really awesome folks. This led me to pursue an internship with the SCA at Yosemite National Park in CA last fall (which I could talk about forever..but I won’t here), and ultimately my position here in St. Louis. I hope to use this service term to provide volunteers with opportunities to plug into their community and find equally fulfilling volunteer roles.
Things will be different here, as I’ve never worked in an urban park before. However, I’m excited to bring my knowledge and passion for wildlife conservation and environmental sustainability to this new setting and give back by starting some really cool programs!
Updates coming soon…
Centennial Volunteer Ambassador
Jefferson National Expansion Memorial
St. Louis, MO