Reader Participation Day: How Much Should The National Park Service Rely On Volunteers?
How much should the National Park Service rely on volunteers? That's a difficult question, as there are teachers, retirees, and others with valuable knowledge and skills that the parks could benefit from, particularly as the agency struggles to make ends meet.
But does Apple, or JP Morgan, or any Fortune 500 company rely as much on volunteers for day-to-day operations as does the Park Service?
It's estimated that the National Park System functions, in part, thanks to 221,000 volunteers, or roughly 10 times the active Park Service staff. And the Park Service is on a campaign to "(C)ontinually advocate for volunteerism which includes volunteers, volunteer managers, and volunteer program/strategy."
More so, the agency has a directive to "(A)dvocate that volunteerism is a core value of the National Park Service, and should be aligned with NPS mission statement, goals, and objectives." That campaign also involves removing barriers that "limit the number of volunteers in parks..."
Is that mission bringing the skills and talents to the agency that it needs? Is it denying jobs to college graduates who look to a career in the parks?
Bottom line: How much should volunteerism be looked to to keep the National Park System running?