In 1970, George B. Hartzog, Jr., who was then the director of the National Park Service, established the Volunteers-In-Parks (VIP) program. The program started with a few hundred volunteers. Today, more than 220,000 VIPs donate their time, skills, and talents to the National Park Service every year.
Eleven years ago, through generous donations from George and Helen Hartzog, the George and Helen Hartzog Awards for Outstanding Volunteer Service were started to recognize the time, talent, innovation, and hard work contributed to national parks through the Volunteers-In-Parks (VIP) Program. Each year awards are presented in five categories: Individual, Youth Program, Volunteer Group, Park Volunteer Program, and Enduring Service.
I am excited to share with you that Everglades National Park is the 2012 recipient of the George and Helen Hartzog Award in the category of Park Volunteer Program.
In the last 5 years, Everglades National Park’s volunteer program has seen a 150% increase in volunteers and nearly a 50% growth in contributed hours due to strategic planning and focused collaboration. Exceptional accomplishments that allowed the volunteer program to achieve this goal included updating the Park’s Volunteer Handbook, creating a bilingual (English & Spanish) park specific volunteer site bulletin, the creation of Poisonwood Pages and a successful collaboration between Everglades National Park, Big Cypress National Preserve and Biscayne National Park to host 28 Alternative Spring Break groups in a two month period.
Everglades National Park's volunteer program coordinator Kevin Bowles Mohr recently flew to Washington DC to attend the award ceremony. Kevin was lucky enough to meet several important people in the National Park Service including Jon Jarvis, Director of the National Park Service.
I would like to congratulate Kevin Bowles Mohr for his dedication and hard work in growing our VIP program; and thank you to everyone else who made this accomplishment possible- staff, supervisors and volunteers!