Volunteer help always needed at state parks
LISA PRICE/TIMES NEWS Volunteer Anne Paisley, Barnesville, and state park environmental education specialist Robin Tracey take a break during trail maintenance recently.
Now that the last day of school has come and gone, what are the kids going to do all summer? Have you already heard the famous complaint, "There's nothing to do!"? Are you already out of ideas?
Well, we hope not, because there are many things to do and all of them benefit the outdoors. Volunteer opportunities for people of all ages, all over the state, are easy to find.
Oh, you think, but I can't handle the physical labor in the heat. Or, I don't know anything about landscaping or trail maintenance.
That didn't stop Barnesville's Anne Paisley, who has volunteered at Tuscarora, Locust Lake and Swatara state parks since 2007, when she retired from her job as a health and physical education teacher for Shenandoah School District. About 10 years ago, she was on a hike on the Spirit of Tuscarora Trail, led by Robin Tracey, environmental education specialist for area state parks. Volunteer "Pap" Knauss was leading the hike.
"I overheard Robin say that she didn't have many volunteers," Paisley recalled. "Now I love it so much that I make my schedule around her schedule, so I can help."
That's the attitude that led Tracey to nominate Paisley for the Schuylkill Conservation District's Volunteer of the Year, an award she won last year. And Paisley is not resting on her laurels; in fact, she's still out trimming laurel bushes and other vegetation from the trails. Just last week, she and Tracey did maintenance on seven miles of trails in Tuscarora and Locust Lake state parks.
Locally, volunteers are typically needed from mid-March through mid-October.
"There's so much to do," Tracey said, on a morning when the two were working on the Tree Identification Trail at Locust Lake State Park. "In addition to trimming, we paint the trail markers, replace the plexi-glass covers on the tree I.D. markers, clear any trees that have fallen across the trail I think most people believe that the parks have maintenance crews that do the trail work, but that's not the case here."
"I wouldn't be able to do the work without her," Tracey said, but Paisley downplayed her role, and the tasks.
"It's not bad work, there's nothing negative about it, because I love it," Paisley said. "I enjoy the parks, so maintaining them is something I love to do."
"Did I already say I love it?" she added. "I love being outside; I look forward to hitting the trails every spring just as soon as we can."
Can You Volunteer?
You may not realize that many opportunities for volunteering in the state's parks may not involve physical outdoor work.
The categories for volunteer work cover a broad base of work: computer work, construction, trail maintenance, boat operation, photography, clerical work, landscaping and historical preservation.
Volunteer work is available for all ages. You can volunteer for a season, for a month, for a week or even for a few hours, during a weekend camping trip. For information, contact officials at your nearest state park; start with www.volunteers.dcnr.state.pa.us.
Robin Tracey can be contacted at 570-467-2506.