Greetings HBC employees!  Joe Morse here at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site. This week I present to you my seventh Service Spotlight, where I interview a volunteer from one of our sites to get a better sense of what they bring to our volunteer program, and any other cool tidbits about them.

This December I had the opportunity to interview Mary Rose.  Mary Rose is a long-time volunteer and is the executive director of the Friends of Fort Vancouver, working at the Fort Vancouver Visitor Center.  As executive director of Friends of Fort Vancouver, she runs the non-profit to serve as conduit for additional funding of Fort Vancouver, aiding us in making our programs more effective and versatile.  Without her assistance, some of the basic functions of our volunteer management would be hindered by red tape (e.g. providing refreshments to volunteers during events).


Here’s the transcript of my interview with Mary:

How long have you been volunteering at Fort Vancouver?

Directly with Fort Vancouver and Friends of Fort Vancouver two and a half years ago and I was nearly a full-time volunteer until I was hired last April as the executive director.

What do you typically do as the executive director of Friends of Fort Vancouver?

Well as the director I coordinate and manage all activities and events and I oversee the bookstore operations.

What kind of activities?

We sponsor an event 2-3 times per month such as book signing, special lectures, and workshops.  We also work with the Forest Service as well as the National Park Service.

In what capacity with the National Park Service?

We did Smokey Bear’s birthday (August 9th), Celebration of Birds, sell their maps, and on January 7th, we will host the official welcome to the barracks.


How did you come to be a volunteer at Fort Vancouver?

I am a maritime and military historian and I continue to work with Confluence Project who built the Land Bridge sites honoring Native American heritage, and 5 other sites which were designed by Maya Lin, the artist famous for designing the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall.  I volunteer here at the site because I served as a historian at Pearson Air Museum with the ANT25 transpolar flight exhibit.  About three years ago several of us got together with Tracy Fortmann to organize a friends group that supports the mission of Fort Vancouver.


What kept you volunteering?

Just the mission of the park and the site. My background is in history but I also have a graduate degree in Museology – Anthropology.  I moved here 30 years ago working with the Clark County Museums, and Fort Vancouver is key to this regions history, especially as a military historian.

What the biggest challenge of being a volunteer and how do you overcome that?

i think the biggest challenge was to grasp all of the interrelationships at the site. It’s a tremendous amount of people, eras, cultures, gender, and customs,  And it changed frequently. And understanding peoples perspective of what they’re seeing and what they would like to learn.

What’s one thing you’d like to tell people who come to the fort?

My observation here in the visitor center is it’s important the people relax and enjoy themselves so that they’re more open to learning. Our approach in the bookshop is that in addition to providing material culture, everything must relate to this site, the National Park Service, or to the Forest Service.  Also we choose to feature vintage books because many of the books that relate to this topic are out of print.

Any cool facts about yourself that people should know?

No.  But I think it’s important to know that Friends of Fort Vancouver is the community of people who support this national historic site.

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That’s a wrap! Come visit us at the Visitor Center to learn about our site, and visit our book shop to support our mission.  And stay tuned for next month’s February Spotlight.