Calling All Stewards!
By Shawn Green, Volunteer Coordinator
Since Friends of the Wissahickon was formed in 1924, we have only been able to continue our conservation mission in the park with the work of volunteers. Trail maintenance, habitat restoration, clearing fallen trees, free guided hikes, and the restoration & maintenance of the historic structures in the park are all completed with volunteers. It takes a community of stewards to maintain this beautiful chunk of paradise that we Philadelphians love so much.
Almost every Thursday and Saturday from March through November, FOW runs public volunteer workdays. These include a variety of projects throughout the 1800-acre park, and always attract a small army of wonderful people from all walks of life, united in a common goal of keeping this special place clean and sustainable for years to come. Whenever you step over a newly built footbridge, or make your way down a properly draining trail, you have volunteers to thank for that!
Beyond our public workdays, Friends of the Wissahickon trains and organizes several smaller corps of volunteers to work on a more involved level. We are currently recruiting for our 2019 training classes, which take place from February through March. Do you love the park and want to make a positive difference? Do you want to meet new, like-minded friends? If so, consider applying for one of these programs!
Trail Ambassadors are park docents who teach park visitors about the park’s history, flora, fauna and geology and assist with anything from directions to first aid. With only a few park rangers on duty in the Wissahickon, Trail Ambassadors serve a much needed role in the park by patrolling the trails, leading hikes, and staffing information tables in the Wissahickon & the surrounding community. Trail Ambassadors are the eyes and ears of FOW, providing information to park users and reporting maintenance needs back to us. It’s an important job because it is through this corps that we are better able to serve the public and protect the park. Learn more about this program here.
Crew Leaders are a special corps of stewards who are trained in leading volunteer groups in the Wissahickon, building & maintaining trails, restoring habitat, and sharing their knowledge and expertise with others. They work directly with FOW staff to plan and lead volunteer work days throughout the park. With the constant natural and human stresses on the park, Crew Leaders play an integral role in keeping the Wissahickon beautiful and sustainable for generations to come. Learn more about this program here.
The Sawyer Crew is a smaller and highly trained team of stewards who serve a unique and extremely important function in Wissahickon Valley Park. This dedicated crew of volunteers identify and clear fallen trees from the 50+ miles of trails in the park. They are trained in safety measures, chainsaw usage and maintenance, flagging, swamping, and communicating with a crew in the field. The Sawyer Crew plays an essential role in keeping the Wissahickon safe for our fellow park users. For more information on becoming a part of this crew, email Shawn Green, Volunteer Coordinator at email@example.com.
The Structures Crew is a long-standing corps of volunteers that build, maintain and repair many of the new and historic structures in the park, including fences, footbridges, benches, wildlife boxes, and routed park signs. They meet on Tuesday mornings and work directly with FOW staff to prioritizeand complete projects throughout the park. For more information on becoming a part of this crew, email Shawn Green, Volunteer Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Limited space is available in our training program, so if you’re interested in any of these programs, consider applying to join one of them before the application deadline on Friday, January 18, 2019.
Along with learning new skills and making great friends, one of the best parts of being an FOW volunteer is completing a task – whether maintaining a trail, planting native trees, leading a hike, or clearing a fallen tree from a trail – and being able to look back at the positive impact you’ve had on the park. The work you do directly helps our conservation mission, and earns a spot in the wild & wonderful history of Wissahickon Valley Park!