Do you love Tennessee State Parks? Do you have a favorite state park that you visit more than any other? Do you have a desire to preserve and protect the natural beauty of that park? If you answered “Yes” to any of those questions, consider taking that extra step to ensure that the splendor of Tennessee State Parks remain available to all. There are numerous volunteer opportunities in the Tennessee State Park system that will allow you to do just that. No matter how much time and energy you may have to dedicate to your favorite state park there is a way for you to participate.
Friends of Tennessee State Parks
The Friends of Tennessee State Parks as defined by the Tennessee State Parks webpage “are concerned citizens who have banded together to assist in protecting, preserving and promoting the beauty and the splendor of their favorite state park.” The friends groups at any state park is involved in planning and hosting events, clean up, beautification, and general maintenance as needed for that particular park and is a wonderful way to start to get involved.
There are 35 active and established Friends groups. To find out more about a group or how to get involved with one, check out the group’s website (if available) or contact the volunteer coordinator at: firstname.lastname@example.org or (615) 532-5249.
Volunteer Work Days
Volunteer Work Days are scheduled events open to the public that focus on clean up, trail maintenance, and other targeted activities that the parks need at that particular time of year. State parks depend on the work of volunteers to help maintain the park itself. Some of the current scheduled volunteer work days are:
Fall Creek Falls – Every 2nd Saturday is Volunteer Day except in September and December. Activities are physical and vary from month to month. Meet park staff and the friends group at the Nature Center at 9 a.m. CT. For more information on the specifics of the work days and to RSVP, contact Roland Creekmore at 931-946-7955 or email@example.com Snacks and lunch are provided so a head count is necessary. In September the park hosts the Mountain Folk Festival and in December they host Christmas on the Mountain. Volunteers are always needed to make these events a success. Please contact the same person above if interested in being a volunteer at one or both of these events.
Frozen Head State Park and Natural Area – Every 3rd Saturday of each month is Volunteer Day except in April and December. Assist with trail maintenance and some trail construction*. Bring a daypack, water, snack/lunch and work gloves. Volunteers should wear a good pair of sturdy boots and dress appropriately for the weather. The park will provide hand tools. Workdays last from 9 a.m. to approximately 3 p.m. ET. Meet at the Visitors Center just prior to start time. If you are a first time volunteer, please show up at 8 a.m. to fill out required paperwork and for a brief safety meeting. You must be in good physical shape, as you may have to hike an hour or so to a job site. Volunteers should be aware that elevation is a factor at Frozen Head. For more information about the Frozen Head Volunteer Work Day, call the park office at 423-346-3318.
Long Hunter State Park – The first Saturday of each month is Park Clean-up Day. Organized by the Friends of Long Hunter, clean-up day is open to everyone. Participants should meet at the park office at 10 a.m. CT. For more info, contact Mike at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pickett State Park – Every 3rd Saturday is Volunteer Day except in March. The March volunteer work day will be held on March 24, 2012. Participate in trail work, planting native species, litter clean up and other park projects. Meet park personnel and the Friends group at the park office at 9 a.m. CT. Work days generally last until 3 p.m. CT. Bring gloves, water, a sack lunch and snacks. Wear sturdy shoes and long pants. Sunscreen, insect repellant and a hat are also good to have. Feel free to work a few hours or stay the entire time. Call the park office if you have questions or need more information at 931-879-5821.
Campground Host Program
For those campers who are able to provide a larger commitment of time, the Campground Host Program may be something to consider. Campground hosts, according to the State Park website are generally responsible for “camper check-in; light maintenance and housekeeping of campground facilities; informing campers of park activities and programs as well as park rules and regulations; directing campers to local points of interest and services.”
The host program requires a camping commitment of one to nine months and approximately 20 hours per week and you will be provided with a highly visible campsite with water and electric hookups at no charge. There is a spreadsheet listing hosting opportunities for the state parks and those interested can send an application to the participating parks or contact the Volunteer Coordinator at 615-532-5249 or email@example.com. Interested parties should call a park prior to sending the application to see if they are in need of a host for the upcoming season. Park contact information can be found by going to Find A Park.
So, Nashville Campers, are you ready to give back a little to make sure that the joy of camping is available to others for generations to come? Tennessee is called the “Volunteer State” after all. Take advantage of one of the numerous ways to volunteer with the Tennessee State Park system and let’s go camping!