Volunteer Sofia loves the ecology, history, and community she found in the Golden Gate National Parks


two people smile for the camera while holding plants they removed during a volunteer event

By Jonathan Howell
San Francisco Park Stewardship Intern

Volunteers are the backbone of our National Parks, without them we would not be able to sustain and manage these beautiful lands to their current splendor as we enjoy them today. We appreciate our hard-working volunteers and every season we like to honor them by sharing their experiences in our parks.

This season we would love to acknowledge the hard work of an amazing member of the restoration community, Sofia John. Sofia has been helping to restore our natural areas since October of 2018. We asked her to share some experiences working with the San Francisco Park Stewardship team:

What got you interested in volunteering with the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy?

As I was wandering around Kirby Cove, I came across a sign advertising volunteering in the parks. I studied ecology in college and have an interest in indigenous flora and fauna—so it seemed like a good fit for me. 

Favorite spot within the Golden Gate National Recreation Area?

Lands End.

Most interesting thing you have found/seen while volunteering?

Once a hawk swooped down and picked a gopher just a few feet away from me!

Most memorable volunteering experience?

There are so many memorable experiences, it’s hard to choose just one. One that was particularly fun was the Holi celebration. There was a lot of food and music and dancing. I really like the sense of community when everyone comes together to celebrate after a few hours of good work. 

Has volunteering with the GGNPC changed your perception of the lands we steward? If so, how has it changed?

I’ve learned so much about the history of the land and the Ohlone people who were its stewards for many years. Seeing photos of Lands End even a decade ago makes me appreciate that the work that we put in pays off, and also illuminates that this is a long-term commitment. 

Something people do not know about you: 

I have three middle names 

A photo, poem, drawing, or song that you created in the parks / of the parks, that you would like to share with the rest of our volunteers:
a hill of grass and flowers leads the ruins of Sutro Baths at Lands End overlooking the Pacific Ocean

Having such amazing volunteers willing to share their experiences and open their hearts to the community of nature enthusiasts leaves us humbled in the shared experience of Park Stewardship. Thank you, Sofia, for sharing your experiences in our parks. 

We at the GGNPC would love to see you continue the tradition of Park Stewardship and join the restoration community by volunteering at one of our weekly events! Through caring not only for our land, but for each other, may we accomplish our goals of creating a resilient, healthier, and more connected Earth. Happy Trails Everyone!

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