COLUMBUS, OH - A record 5,878 Ohioans served as volunteer hosts, guides, wildlife aids and maintenance workers in Ohio State Parks last year, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR). And with the start of a new year, the department is renewing recruitment efforts for its Volunteer-In-Parks Program.
"Make it a new year's resolution to become a state park volunteer in 2001," urged Dan West, chief of Ohio State Parks. "It's a resolution that's easy to make and fun to keep."
State park volunteers perform a variety of important activities, West said. They meet and greet visitors, provide information, conduct hikes and programs, offer services in campgrounds, adopt and maintain hiking and bridle trails, work at special events and festivals, care for wildlife at nature centers and participate in various cleanups.
Last year's volunteers served a total of 260,362 hours. Year 2000 totals represent increases of 547 volunteers and 27,090 hours over 1999 figures, according to ODNR records. West attributed last year's higher numbers to volunteer recruitment efforts aimed at youth groups such as school clubs, 4-H clubs, scout troops and similar organizations.
Ohio's Volunteer-In-Parks Program was created in 1982. Opportunities to participate are as varied as the skills, talents and time constraints of people who wish to join the program, West said. Among the most popular volunteer activities are campground host and adopt-a-trail programs. Volunteers fall into one of four categories: individual adults, individual teens (Green Teen), groups and campground hosts.
"Volunteers make a valuable contribution to day-to-day operations in our award-winning state park system," said West. "Without them, we could not provide the excellent recreational experiences that draw millions of visitors each year."
Ohio's 73 state parks feature 57 campgrounds with 9,048 campsites, more than 500 cottages and eight resort lodges.
For more information on becoming a state park volunteer, contact any state park office or visit the ODNR web site at www.dnr.state.oh.us/ .