Md. Park Service Launches Statewide Volunteer Coordination System

ANNAPOLIS (April 14, 2011) - To coincide with National Volunteer Week, the Maryland Park Service (MPS) has launched a new online statewide volunteer coordination system to make volunteering in state parks easier than ever.

“Our network of volunteers strengthens Maryland’s State Parks and improves the experience of our visitors,” said Maryland Park Service Superintendent Nita Settina. “This new website makes it easier for volunteers to find opportunities throughout the State.”

Volunteers can now visit and click on the “volunteers” tab to register with the new system and create a profile. Opportunities can be searched by keyword, zip code and distance, specific interest, activity, availability and specific park name. Users can also sign up for opportunities, enter volunteer hours and view their referrals and placements.

“The new system not only empowers the volunteers to become more self-sufficient but it also allows park staff to be more efficient in working with our many volunteers,” said MPS Statewide Volunteer Coordinator Larry Martin.

Implementation of the Volunteer Program will now be consistent statewide. A registered volunteer who lives in western Maryland and regularly volunteers at their nearby state park can now sign up for an opportunity at a state park on the eastern shore if they so choose, and their hours can easily be tracked.

The Maryland Park Service benefits greatly from the time and effort donated by its volunteers. Individuals and groups are encouraged to become part of the statewide network of thousands of park volunteers in Maryland's 66 state parks and five state forests who donate hundreds of thousands of hours of service each year. They provide enthusiasm, energy and creativity to the wide variety of tasks they accomplish. Volunteer benefits include companionship, a sense of responsibility and enhanced skills.

Maryland’s state parks not only provide great outdoor recreation for Marylanders and visitors, they are also a great asset to State and local economies. According to a recent study, conducted in partnership with the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development, the Maryland Office of Tourism Development and the Maryland Association of Destination Marketing Organizations, Maryland state parks have an estimated annual economic benefit of more than $650 million. In 2010, visitors directly spent more than $567 million locally — $25.56 locally for every dollar the State invests in state parks — during their visits. And almost 95 percent of visitors had their expectations met or exceeded during visits.

Source: Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR)

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