National Park Service Jobs Volunteer Program
The Volunteers in Parks (VIP) program was authorized in 1970 by legislation that legalized the services of individuals who wished to volunteer in the national parks system. The program had a modest beginning with relatively few volunteers; but today, thousands of people volunteer throughout the national parks system.
VIP volunteers are working to ensure that the history and the future of national park areas are preserved for future generations. Last year, the VIP program had 79,000 volunteers who contributed 3 million hours at an estimated value of $28 million.
The following list shows how these volunteer hours were spent.
- Administrative: 5 percent
- Campground host: 9 percent
- Curator: 3 percent
- Archaeological: 2 percent
- Interpretation: 38 percent
- Maintenance: 17 percent
- Protection: 6 percent
- Resource management: 17 percent
- Other: 5 percent
Unless an exception is made, VIPs must be in good health. For some positions, a medical examination may be required. If so, the federal government will pay for it. A summer volunteer should commit for at least one month. The average commitment is six weeks. Volunteers should expect to work twenty to forty hours per week. Training is provided to familiarize volunteers with the park and their assigned duties.
Housing for volunteers is rarely available, but can occasionally be provided on an individual basis. Amenities vary from park to park and volunteer to volunteer. Some parks reimburse travel costs, meals, and provide uniforms. VIPs are eligible for medical compensation as well. Because the national park system is currently undergoing massive administrative changes, applicants should contact the national park(s) in which they want to work directly. Ask to speak to someone about the VIP program, or how you may reach the VIP coordinator for that region.
- Write or call the volunteer coordinator at the specific park in which you would like to volunteer and ask for a volunteer application.
- Make several copies of the completed application.
- Return your copy directly to each of the parks that interest you. Each copy must bear your original signature.