It is currently Sun Oct 21, 2018 9:34 pm

All times are UTC - 5 hours [ DST ]




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 5 posts ] 
Author Message
 Post subject: National Park Volunteer Relations
PostPosted: Sun Sep 16, 2018 1:37 pm 

Joined: Thu Apr 14, 2005 9:34 pm
Posts: 2146
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
Interesting report on volunteer relations at the National Parks on the C&O Canal.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/you-cant-mistreat-us-park-service-volunteers-push-back-saying-conditions-are-hostile-and-unsafe/2018/09/15/aa6277e2-b157-11e8-9a6a-565d92a3585d_story.html?utm_term=.7c9aca0b1736

_________________
Steven Harrod
Lektor
Danmarks Tekniske Universitet
Institut for Systemer, Produktion, og Ledelse


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: National Park Volunteer Relations
PostPosted: Sun Sep 16, 2018 5:04 pm 

Joined: Sat Aug 28, 2004 5:52 pm
Posts: 526
Location: Apple Valley, Minnesota
The WP article has the old your blocking our ads--pay us a buck and unblock us or some such BS.

Is it possible to excerpt some of the article or summarize it for some of us? I know there are copyright issues involved so if you don't want to, that's fine.

Thanks!

_________________
Jim Vaitkunas
Minnesota Streetcar Museum
www.trolleyride.org


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: National Park Volunteer Relations
PostPosted: Sun Sep 16, 2018 7:13 pm 

Joined: Thu Apr 14, 2005 9:34 pm
Posts: 2146
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
Quote:
The WP article has the old your blocking our ads--pay us a buck and unblock us or some such BS.


The Washington Post allows a limited number of free articles each month. You should automatically get a prompt.

The story discusses volunteers feeling un-appreciated, and in some cases harassed by paid staff, and says many are dropping out.

_________________
Steven Harrod
Lektor
Danmarks Tekniske Universitet
Institut for Systemer, Produktion, og Ledelse


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: National Park Volunteer Relations
PostPosted: Sun Sep 16, 2018 8:00 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 8887
Location: Somewhere north of Prescott, AZ on the Santa Fe "Peavine"
Having reviewed the complete article in question, I'm not sure this is really relevant to this forum.

The issue at hand seems to be management, personnel and morale issues between a large volunteer contingent and NPS rangers and management at this specific park.

I will excerpt under "fair use":

Quote:
The park, a 184.5-mile sliver of land that runs along the Potomac River from Georgetown to Cumberland, Md., has one of the largest volunteer programs in the national park system. Last year, more than 3,400 people clocked nearly 65,000 hours of service on the C&O park. That labor, had it been by paid staff, would have cost taxpayers about $1.6 million, according to the Park Service.

As the agency’s budget has shrunk and staff positions remain unfilled, volunteers and the Park Service said it has become increasingly necessary to rely on a robust network of volunteers to perform tasks such as trail upkeep and running certain programs.

But in recent months, those programs have lost key leaders and participants because of tension between the park and some of its most active volunteers. These departures have hurt programs and made the park less safe for visitors, several volunteers said.

“If we run into a difficult rescue or run into an issue out on the trail, a lot of people are really concerned about being out there and getting no help from the park,” said Kevin Murphy, a retired federal worker who has volunteered with the Billy Goat Trail Steward program for five years. “It’s getting unsafe for visitors, too, because there are less of us out there who are fully trained, experienced and who can help in an emergency.”

An internal study conducted this year that surveyed about 100 volunteers and employees is expected to make recommendations for reforming volunteer programs and addressing management issues.

“As the number of volunteers goes up, our ability to manage them has gone down,” said C&O Superintendent Kevin Brandt. “We’re looking at what we can do to ensure our volunteers are working safely, are trained properly and are led properly and thanked properly.”

The report, a draft of which was submitted to Brandt on July 31, will probably be finalized by next month, said Einar Olsen, the Park Service’s assistant regional director for inspections and evaluations. But volunteers, who have been eager to see the findings, have heard little about its progress or expected delivery date.

For several current and former volunteers, it has felt like the latest in a series of slights.

“I’ve heard some staff say to a number of people things like, ‘You’re a volunteer; if you don’t like how we do things, just leave,’ and we’re out there to help park staff,” Murphy said. “It doesn’t make a lot of sense to treat people that way.”

More than a half-dozen volunteers recalled being demeaned or belittled by park staff and made to feel as if their contributions weren’t important.

One volunteer, who had been on the trail picking up bags of dog droppings, was mocked by staff as he returned to the trailhead, volunteers said. After that, they said, several rangers called volunteers “the poop patrol” and “garbage collectors.

. . .

Training has lapsed, and debates over uniforms, water bottles and other details have prevented some volunteers from performing basic duties, several said.

“Training has effectively stopped,” said Kevin Scallan, a volunteer with the Bike Patrol and Billy Goat Trail Steward programs. “And it’s not isolated to this group or that group. Quite a number of people are upset across all the programs in the park.”

A tipping point many volunteers point to was in February, when C&O leaders asked volunteers to respond to a survey about “issues and experiences that happened within the last 5 years” for the purpose of improving programs and “the volunteer experience.” The survey, which asked participants for their full names and contact information, caused many to question its intent because it was not anonymous.

Soon after, Bob King, coordinator of the Billy Goat Trail Steward program — a legion of volunteers who patrol one of the park’s most challenging trails — was forced out.

King, who was named a volunteer of the year in 2012 and had led the Billy Goat Trail Steward program since 2013, said he was blindsided by the dismissal.

He blamed his removal, in part, on his candor when answering the Park Service’s survey in which, he said, he highlighted problems with the program and how volunteers were treated.

Responding to an email accepting his “verbal resignation” on Feb. 21, King wrote that he had never, in fact, resigned.

In communications with King obtained by The Washington Post, Park Service officials wrote that King had been rude to visitors and behaved inappropriately when dealing with C&O staff. Volunteers who worked with King bristled at the accusations, calling him loyal, dedicated and widely revered.”


Now, nowhere in the article is this described as a nationwide, systemic NPS problem. Indeed, the unusual nature of this specific "linear park" make it an "odd duck" to compare to anything like, say, Yosemite, Steamtown, Arcadia, or Independence Hall.

But Washington Post readers (who, as a rule, are largely/increasingly left-leaning and supportive of the blatant, severe anti-Trump agenda the paper has adopted since mid-2016) commenting after the article hastened to make accusations that this is the fault of, if not an outright conspiracy by, the Trump administration and its appointees.

Reading this with as objective an eye as I can muster, and based on my experiences with Steamtown and reading about management issues at other National Parks/Sites, I'm inclined to believe that this is a local problem that has developed over tensions between C&O National Park administration and volunteers. The "truth" is very likely to be somewhere between the extremes portrayed in the article.

Suffice it to say that I could easily see identical frictions develop between any volunteer group and Steamtown management given the "wrong" director, or any museum/volunteer situation. I have been in situations where volunteers with talents were not afforded the opportunity to apply said talents effectively, and they departed for more rewarding activities. I've left one (non-RR) group over similar frictions. And I can probably point to one RR museum where the turnover of volunteers is (supposedly, reportedly) atrociously high exactly because of similar issues.

I repeat:
I don't think this article highlights anything that extends to the entire NPS, and even if it does only affects about 3-4 rail preservation efforts nationwide..............


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: National Park Volunteer Relations
PostPosted: Mon Sep 17, 2018 2:55 am 

Joined: Thu Apr 14, 2005 9:34 pm
Posts: 2146
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
Haven’t there been complaints in this forum about the volunteer relations at Steamtown?

_________________
Steven Harrod
Lektor
Danmarks Tekniske Universitet
Institut for Systemer, Produktion, og Ledelse


Offline
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 5 posts ] 

All times are UTC - 5 hours [ DST ]


 Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Exabot [Bot] and 62 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to: