Newly inspired: One intern’s memorable first volunteer program experience

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Women's Trail Day interns and volunteers worked on the trail to Point Bonita.

By Cat Young
Park Stewardship Trails Program Intern

This past month I gained new skills in preparing for and executing a volunteer program. Working during Women’s Trail Day was my first taste of this new experience and I could not think of a better day to get me excited about stewardship projects to come. I think the opportunities I’ll have working with the community and preparing for these events will be extremely beneficial in the long run. I could see myself pursuing a career working with volunteers, as I love being around and meeting new people, especially those who are offering their time to help make the park better.

As the crew prepared a few days before Women’s Trail Day, we were all excited in anticipation of the upcoming day. We began to prepare the tools, supplies, and materials that we would need, which included building a cage with chained fence to protect wheelbarrows and other equipment.

On the morning of the event, the crew and community members visited Point Bonita Lighthouse at the end of the trail we would be working on. While we were stretching and preparing our bodies for the work, an interpretive park ranger from Muir Woods did a talk and brief history of women in the park. I’ve dreamed about becoming an interpretive ranger since I was 15 years old; it was very inspiring to not only hear this ranger talk about the women who came before her, but to also see her in action. After the introduction, the group used wheelbarrows to transfer shale (a compactable mix of dirt and small stones) to puddles along the trail.

Most of the Saturdays throughout the remainder of my internship will involve trail stewardship projects, so Women’s Trail Day has been a great example of what this will look like. It made me realize all the work that goes into not only preparing for an event, but also running it and cleaning it up once it is over. I recognized many of the things I learned in college classes come up during this day, from marketing and recruitment to how activities run throughout the morning. We assigned jobs to people, followed an itinerary, and had a backup plan ready to go in case the rain prevented us from doing the original tasks. I noticed how participants reacted and gained knowledge about what they may or may not have liked. For example, some women appreciated the openness we had around taking breaks whenever they needed, not pressuring anybody over their limit. 

Overall, I had an amazing first experience working on a community program. It’s so cool to see things I learned in a classroom actually utilized in the field, and I’m excited to take the knowledge I gained during Women’s Trail Day and apply it to future projects. This has made me so much more excited for the rest of my internship and the opportunities to come.

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