Wisconsin is home to 66 state parks - giving residents and visitors a chance to get up-close and personal with all that the outdoors have to offer.  Locally, we're blessed to have two of those state parks in our area here in Douglas County:  Amnicon Falls State Park and Pattison State Park are located just on the outskirts of Superior,  providing a chance for afternoon (or, even hour) getaways.

For true outdoor adventurers, a great way to experience those state parks is through volunteering.  While the State Park system has budgeted employees to staff the recreation areas, community volunteers help to "round out" workloads and allow for available funds to be used in prudent ways.

That's why the Wisconsin State Park system is always actively looking for people who are interested in volunteering.  In an article in the Superior Telegram [paywall], Jane Hutchens, the Friends and Volunteers Coordinator for the state parks through the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources explains:

"[Volunteers] make a world of difference to our mission of being able to enhance and protect our natural resources.  We couldn't do what we do without our volunteers.  When you get 1.5 million people coming to a property over a year, that puts a lot of use and a big heavy footprint on a property."

While the State Park system is looking for volunteers to help out all year long, the busy summer season is an obvious focus.  The parks usually see their peak visits during the summer months and they need all hands on deck to make it through.

So what do State Park volunteers do?  Lots of things - depending on their skill sets and interest:

  • Helping control invasive species
  • Planting native plants
  • Maintaining facilities and grounds
  • Offering programs - sharing "the story of the land"
  • Teaching and helping with skills like hiking, camping, and fishing

It's worth noting that there are both "short term" and "long term" option categories for volunteers as well, depending on interest.  While most volunteers choose to help out for a couple of hours, some stay longer - even staying on the property or campground and acting as a host.

Something new this year for the Wisconsin State Park system is an online portal that makes searching for, signing up, and getting information about volunteer opportunities super easy. The portal is extremely user friendly and lets you get started with just a couple clicks from your computer.

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