Archive for the 'Volunteering' Category

Student Docents at Texas State Parks

Wednesday, June 5th, 2019

Crystal Camacho, a student docent at FLHS, leads a group from Houston through the site. Image: Fort Leaton Facebook Page.

This is Passport to Texas

Manuela Catano is the Park Superintendent at the Fort Leaton  State Historic Site and manages a unique workforce – student  docents.

We work in conjunction with our local school district. We can hire them as young as 14 years old.

The program provides students a solid first job experience while they develop a range of marketable skills. Laura Jennings is a park ranger.

[Laura] They apply for the position, we score the application, we will interview them and for many of the docents, this will be their first interview. So that in itself is a learning experience.

[Omar] Before this I was a pretty much a shy person and it helped me open up and not be so shy when I meet new people.

[Crystal] It really pushed myself to get out of a comfort zone… to try and focus on my communication skills.

Omar Udave and Crystal Camacho are part of a team of eight student docents

[Omar] Well, a lot of questions are asking about the “carreton”, this big wagon we have back here; and I explain it to them.  

[Crystal] My favorite part of the tour is the dining room; the second owner, Edward Hall was actually shot in that room.

The student docent program is much more than a job. It’s an opportunity to learn while teaching others

It’s the best job I’ve ever had. We’re really thankful to have them

Volunteer at state parks. Find opportunities in the Volunteer section of the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

This Volunteer Helps Nature Rock Texas

Monday, May 14th, 2018

Walter Stankiewicz and the kiddos. Image: Texas Children in Nature

This is Passport to Texas

After graduating from college and working in government, Walter Stankiewicz wanted a change.

I have a degree in international business, with lots of experience regarding government and outdoor work. So, I figured: what can I do to combine those elements.

This Pennsylvania native landed in Austin, where he serves as an Americorps Vista Volunteer for Texas Parks and Wildlife. He works with the Texas Children in Nature Program, and Nature Rocks Texas.

Nature rocks Texas is a program that’s is a way to target, communicate with and engage our audiences. Mostly children, and the children’s parent, of course. The goal of Nature Rocks Texas is to highlight green space and nature and activities at nature themed places, and nature themed events.

These programs remove barriers to equitable access to nature for children and families. Access to the outdoors, says Walter, benefits everyone, especially children.

Because it makes children happier, healthier and smarter. Of course, there’s more meat to it than that. A book came out about 15 years ago called Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louve. He identified and defined this term: nature deficit disorder, meaning especially children who are not engaged in nature are losing a vital element of both formal and informal education, and also they’re losing a part of growing up that renders a very healthy, optimistic and happier mindset for the rest of your life. That’s the essence of why we’re doing this.

That’s our show…. brought to you in part by Ram trucks: built to serve.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

VISTA Volunteers at Parks and Wildlife

Tuesday, June 6th, 2017
A few of TPWD's Vista Volunteers.

A few of TPWD’s Vista Volunteers.

This is Passport to Texas

Volunteers in Service to America’s, or VISTA, began as part of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty in 1964.

We must create a national service corps to help the economic handicapped of our own country, as the Peace Corps now helps those abroad.

Nearly 30 years later, VISTA integrated with AmeriCorps. Individuals volunteer to spend a year in communities working on wide-ranging projects, including environmental stewardship.

This [change] really could tie in greatly in getting VISTAs to come in and help us build some new programs and new projects that we haven’t been able to do in the past.

Kris Shipman, a former AmeriCorps VISTA, is volunteer manager at Texas Parks and Wildlife. She developed the agency’s first VISTA program, which began this past April.

We had to go through a Federal grant process. And, once we were accepted, we received 13 VISTA members. This project will be a three year project; we have a VISTA leader that will be here in Austin. The other 12 are all over the agency.

Including, but not limited to state parks and Children in Nature. Erin Freiboth is Texas Parks and Wildlife’s VISTA leader.

We are here to create and develop foundations for projects and for programs that support and carry on the mission of Texas Parks and Wildlife.

More about the VISTA program tomorrow. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation supports our series and helps keep Texas wild with support of proud members across the state. Find out more at

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Volunteering at Parks: Good and Good for You

Friday, September 16th, 2016
Volunteer at Texas State Parks

Volunteer at Texas State Parks

This is Passport to Texas

Volunteers donate more than a half-million hours of service worth over $17-million dollars annually to all Texas Parks and Wildlife programs.

They get to work with really friendly and knowledgeable staff, and they have a great time just being outside and enjoying nature, themselves, as part of their giving back.

Audrey Muntz is the new volunteer coordinator for Texas state parks, and says anyone with an interest can find a volunteer opportunity in parks that suits them.

We have hundreds of opportunities throughout the state at state parks. Some of them are one time; some of them are short term. And, the majority of them are ongoing.

One of the most coveted long-term volunteer jobs is state park host. In exchange for their services, they receive a campground site.

Those individuals serve up to 24-30 hours a week in exchange for being able to keep their RV in the campground. And so they can help with a huge variety of things, from keeping the grounds clean, to fee collection. And they are the face of the park in many ways, and help campers get to know and learn the park and keep it as beautiful and clean as they can for all of our visitors.

Park host commitments range from two to six months; and, established volunteers often move from one park to another.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Volunteer at Purtis Creek State Park

Wednesday, May 25th, 2016
Fishing fun at Purtis Creek State Park in East Texas.

Fishing fun at Purtis Creek State Park in East Texas.

This is Passport to Texas

If you like giving back to your community, and live near Purtis Creek State Park in east Texas, you’re in luck.

We have volunteers that help us in many different ways here.

Mendy Davis is superintendent of the park, located in Eustace, just down the road from the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens. Davis says Purtis Creek SP relies on volunteers.

Our park is not staffed to completely operate on its own. And, to be able to offer the interpretive programs that we provide here in the park, as well as the events, it requires additional outside assistance.

In addition to its onsite park host position, interested persons will discover a wide variety of volunteer opportunities available at the park.

We have other volunteer opportunities to come and assist with our interpretive programs. We teach basic canoe and kayaking…night sounds…night hikes…nature hikes. So, we have many volunteers who just join us for a specific hike that is something that they want to do. Or if they happen to have interest in birding. That’s one area that we don’t have anyone trained in at this time. So, we’re looking for that birding person who wants to come out and lead a birdwatching hike for us.

Whether you’re skilled in paddling, hiking, fishing, biking or birding you can share your knowledge with others at Purtis Creek State Park. Check out the volunteer page on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife, I’m Cecilia Nasti.