I have mentioned before that we are deeply indebted to our volunteers in Virginia State Parks. The work and dedication of these folks is truly remarkable. While those of us that are full time bemoan no raises and furlough days, our volunteers do what they do for nothing more than the appreciation we give them or just their love of our parks.
We saw only a small increase over last year primarily due to budget cuts that forced reduction in our Youth Corps program.
What does this volunteer contribution mean to us? The work our volunteers do means we don’t have to hire staff to do that work. The value of volunteerism in Virginia State Parks approaches $5 million. We have a total operational budget of around $30 million (counting the state’s general fund and the revenue we earn ourselves to support our operations). An extra $5 million is indeed valuable!
Who are our volunteers? We have ordinary individuals who come out to perform various duties and projects in our parks. We have camp and park hosts who bring their RV and live on our parks from one to two months to support operations. We have volunteer groups including our YouthCorps program, Americorps and Alternative Spring Break groups. Then we have our Friends of groups who form groups to support our parks, including the Virginia Association for Parks who is the umbrella organization for these efforts.