Many people find that volunteering in the National Park Service is an ideal way to help preserve the natural and cultural features of the parks and spend quality time in meaningful jobs. Depending on the season, the Parkway districts have volunteers performing routine maintenance work, rehabilitating trails, serving as a host in one of the Parkway’s nine campgrounds, using photographic skills to add to our park files, doing historical research or working in district libraries.
These volunteers provide tens of thousands of hours of valuable service each year and are instrumental in the protection and preservation of the park. VIPs (Volunteers-in-Parks) can be anyone, from college students to retirees, from business people who need weekend projects to the local garden club that wants to lend its services to help beautify a developed area. They can work as much or as little as they want, and whenever they want, as long as it is agreed upon between the volunteer and the supervisor. The park is also open to any new ideas and projects that a potential VIP might propose.
Volunteers work regularly in all four districts listed below:
- Ridge District (MP 0 – 106)
- Plateau District (MP 106 – 216)
- Highlands District (MP 216 – 331)
- Pisgah District (MP 331-469)
While volunteer openings and programming needs vary from district to district, the list below offers some ideas about the types of volunteer work that is needed on the Parkway from year to year.
- collect bloom report information,
- record wildlife sightings,
- assist with parking vehicles in high traffic areas,
- assist with special events,
- provide sewing/seamstress work to create period appropriate costuming,
- lend expertise for pioneer gardening or quilting,
- share talents such as traditional music or photography,
- assist with trail maintenance and clearing,
- greet visitors at visitor contact stations,
- serve as campground hosts
Become a Volunteer – FRIENDS of the Blue Ridge Parkway
On the Blue Ridge Parkway, FRIENDS of the Blue Ridge Parkway is the partner organization that trains and manages the volunteers in cooperation with the NPS. When the FRIENDS program began in 2006, their staff went through the same VIP training as the National Park Service employees. FRIENDS continues to work with the NPS to focus and expand the program. Today, nearly 2,300 volunteers contribute time to work all along the Parkway.
If you are interested, complete the volunteer application online. When they receive the application, you’ll be put in touch with a representative from the FRIENDS Chapter closest to you who can talk to you about current opportunities.