Did you know that April is National Volunteer Month? Volunteers play an important role for MetroParks of Butler County, helping us to advance our mission of education, conservation, and recreation. Recently, we were able to talk with MetroParks’ Volunteer Resources department to gather insights about the impacts of volunteerism in our parks, and how to get involved.
Why are volunteers so important to MetroParks?
“To put it plainly, volunteers help MetroParks accomplish our tasks and goals, whether they are environmental, operational, or recreational. They allow us to complete projects we would have otherwise been unable to with just our MetroParks staff. But volunteerism is more than just projects. It allows the public to leave their own mark on the parks for the benefit of the entire community. This sort of ownership allows for a deeper connection with the space, but also with each other. Oftentimes, volunteers work together in groups and have the opportunity to build relationships and trust with other members of the community. At the same time, the first-hand experience of our volunteers provides us with valuable feedback to improve our parks further.”
What is the most rewarding aspect of working with MetroParks volunteers?
“Though MetroParks volunteers help with countless improvements in our parks, the most rewarding aspect of the work is watching our volunteers move out of their comfort zones, learn new skills, and seek to learn more about their environment. The impact on volunteers allows for deeper environmental awareness and the ability to build a relationship with the park. It’s these experiences that create a love for the green spaces in our community.”
How can people get involved in volunteering with MetroParks, and what opportunities are available?
“We recently debuted a new volunteer management program called Better Impact. Here, people can enter their volunteer interests, as well as their available times. A MetroParks staff will then reach out to potential volunteers with available opportunities that match their preferences. Some of our upcoming volunteer opportunities include Flashlight Egg Hunts, Earth Day Cleanup, Tree-Planting, BioBlitz, Run the Parks 5Ks, and Bike with a Naturalist. To learn more about these opportunities and to fill out a volunteer application, we encourage you to visit the MetroParks website: https://www.yourmetroparks.net/support-us/volunteering”
What does a typical day in the life look like in Volunteer Resources at MetroParks?
“Most of the week is spent in the office communicating with volunteers, but the best part is having the opportunity to go out in the parks and work alongside these same individuals. We get to see every step of the process when it comes to volunteerism in our parks, from beginning to end. Not only are we able to watch the impacts unfold in our parks, but we also get to know our volunteers beyond just their names on their applications. It is a joy to form these relationships with our MetroParks community.”
What are some of the goals surrounding volunteerism at MetroParks and how is success measured?
“Our biggest goal by far is expanding volunteer opportunities to members of our community, who might not have these experiences otherwise. In short, we want to make volunteerism more accessible to everyone. Our hope is that our new volunteer management program will allow us to build more awareness for volunteerism in our parks, as well as expand our community of volunteers. We also actively seek feedback from our volunteers, as they are also park patrons and have a strong community voice. This helps us steer our volunteer and park improvement efforts in the right direction. And, finally, we are so grateful for all the work our volunteers do and are constantly seeking to recognize their efforts. We have recently implemented a new rewards program where volunteers can earn tickets for live music events in the area, as an appreciation for their help. We are looking to expand this rewards system further to include sporting and other events in the future.”
There is no doubt that volunteerism plays a large role for MetroParks of Butler County and our mission. We are so grateful to all of the volunteers that have made their mark on our parks in improving our green spaces. If you’re looking to get involved as a volunteer for MetroParks, we would love to have you on board. Visit us on our website: https://www.yourmetroparks.net/support-us/volunteering to fill out an application and learn more about available volunteer opportunities. Together, we can all be active participants in our environment and work to make our green spaces enjoyable for all.