Volunteers pour in at Bear Creek Lake, High Bridge Trail

Published 12:12 am Saturday, April 20, 2024

Over the last year, volunteers spent more than 3,900 hours working at Bear Creek Lake. At High Bridge Trail, the number may be smaller, coming in at 914, but the growth year over year is still impressive, park officials say. It’s something they don’t take for granted, here or anywhere across the park system.
In 2023, volunteers donated 218,147 hours of service to Virginia State Parks and this is a 9% increase from 2022. 
“We love that people were able to attend more park programs to better connect with nature, park staff and our volunteers,” said Virginia State Park Director Dr. Melissa Baker. “We are very fortunate to have such a great group of dedicated volunteers that contribute greatly to the success of the parks they serve and that the numbers continue to grow.” 

What’s happening at Bear Creek Lake?

So what are they doing at Bear Creek and High Bridge? Well, camp and park hosts are responsible for most of the volunteer activity. These volunteers primarily work in the campground assisting campers, doing routine maintenance, and making sure that staff are alerted to any problems. 
And if you’re wondering what park holds the record for most volunteers last year, that would be Wilderness Road, with 14,452 hours contributed by 202 volunteers, who were mostly re-enactors of the time period of Martin’s Station. These historical programs allow guests to experience what it was like on America’s First Frontier.  
Pocahontas State Park had 594 volunteers contributing 13,439 hours. The Friends of Pocahontas State Park are a visible presence in volunteer activities, notably their work providing firewood for resale at the park. An ongoing annual project is the two Cabin Work Weeks where volunteers come and camp in the park to work on the CCC-era group camp facilities. 

Individuals and volunteers in groups donated a total of 100,028 hours of service, an increase of 18,721 from the hours served in 2022.  

Breaking down the programs

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The breakdown for the various programs is as follows: 

  • Individual Volunteers – 62,142 hours (57,219 in 2022) 
  • Volunteer Groups – 37,886 hours (24,087 in 2022) 
  • AmeriCorps – 28,008 hours (25,477 in 2022) 
  • Camp Host – 90,111 hours (83,172 in 2022) 

Each location has different needs and there are exciting volunteer opportunities available at every park. Projects include taking inventory of plants and animals, trail maintenance, removing invasive plants, running educational programs and running Discovery Centers.  

“Volunteers are truly an extension of the park,” said Pocahontas State Park Manager Nate Clark. “The value of their hard work is visible at every park location. We are grateful for the hard work and the numerous hours that our volunteers contribute each year as many projects wouldn’t be possible without their help.”