Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Volunteer of the Week---Jimmy Rodgers

Local Kentuckian receives National Service Award

Yesterday, Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne presented Jimmy Rodgers with the Take Pride Bronze Volunteer Hours of Service Award for his service to America’s public lands. Mr.

Rodgers has given more than 1,200 hours of his time and talents to our national parks, and currently serves as a park host at North Fork Campground, which is located on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Rough River Lake.

“It’s a pleasure to present this hard-earned award to Jimmy Rodgers, a man who has given of himself to help maintain and preserve our nation’s public parks,” Secretary Kempthorne said.

“It is our hope that volunteers like Jimmy Rodgers will help inspire young Americans across Kentucky and the country to volunteer on our great land,” said Heather Roebke, Executive Director of Take Pride in America®. “Dedicated volunteers like this are what help keep our country and our shared spaces great.”

This is one well deserved award, Jimmy...thanks for all you do, you're our volunteer of the week!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Take Pride in America joins local families for Family Volunteer Day cleanup this Saturday

This Saturday, November 17th, is Family Volunteer Day, a day designed to bring families together and get them involved in their community. In recognition of the day, Take Pride in America is having a family cleanup event in Alexandria at Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve, Belle Haven Marina, from 10 a.m. to Noon. The event will mainly be comprised of staff from the Department of the Interior, and their families, although other local families are more than welcome to join in.

In an age of hectic schedules, families taking the time to spend quality time together, for a worthwhile cause, helps strengthen family bonds as wells as plants seeds of volunteerism in America’s future generation. Family volunteering can be comprised of an entire family, or just any two people who consider themselves family.

Family Volunteer Day is an initiative of the Points of Light & Hands On Network and sponsored by The Walt Disney Company. The day is about fostering caring values and providing engagement opportunities that enable families to become contributors, problem solvers, and partners in building cohesive communities.

Families and individuals interested in coming out to Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve should RSVP to, or call us at (202)208-5848. Also, members of the press can call us at (202)208-6502 to set-up a pre or post event interview, or to go over event details.

In addition, Disney will be donating goodie bags to thank all volunteers for their help. So kids, bring your families out to volunteer, and get a prize pack from Disney.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

--Take Pride E-News Update--

Hey guys, just a quick update this week...

National Family Volunteer Day
Remember, next Saturday, November 17th is National Family Volunteer Day, a day designed to bring families together and get them involved in the community. National Family Volunteer Day was established by the Points of Light Foundation and Disney, and is a great way to bring families together for a good cause. Take Pride will be having a family cleanup event at Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve in Alexandria, Virginia. The Marsh is located in Belle Haven Marina, and the event will be from 10 a.m. to Noon. We invite anyone in the area to join us for a couple hours of good family fun! Please call (202)208-5848 for more information.

Volunteer of the Week
We would like to take a minute to thank Alana McKinney for her continuing volunteer efforts in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Alana is our volunteer of the week! She has been a volunteer since 1987, and over the years has compiled over 8,845 hours of volunteer service. That wasn't a typo, Alana has given nearly nine thousand hours of her time! Alana is a true gift to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, and her love for service is obvious. In addition to taking care of the parks ranch, she also works in the gardens, as well as leads historical programs for park visitors.
Alana is a prime example of the difference that a committed individual can make when they put their will and talents behind a worthwhile cause.

New Take Pride Schools Form
Alright, so we just released a new Take Pride Schools sign up sheet. If your school hasn't registered yet, or if you'd like to share the Take Pride Schools program with a neighboring school, please check out the new registration form at It's now easier than ever, you can simply download the form and email it back to us.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

International Volunteer Manager Appreciation Day

Does anyone know what today is? Today is a little known appreciation day, which in our opinion should receive a lot more attention. This is International Volunteer Manager Appreciation Day, and we would like to take a moment to show our appreciation to all the Volunteer Managers out there.

On behalf of Take Pride in America, thank you for your continued work with volunteers on our Nation’s public lands and waters. It’s your hard work and dedication that truly keeps things moving forward.

As you well know, volunteering does not succeed in a vacuum. Behind the hundreds of thousands of volunteers across this country stands a committed group of individuals…like you…who tirelessly recruit, train, and support them. We sincerely thank you for your overflowing enthusiasm and your steady leadership.

Here at Take Pride we are steadfast in out commitment to encouraging volunteerism on our public lands. With your help, moving forward we will be able to continue to enhance our priceless natural, cultural, and historical sites for years to come!

Thank you again for your tireless efforts.

Remember, we’re here to help. If we can ever be of service to you, please do not hesitate to let us know. A quick phone call or email and we’re right there with you.

To find out more about International Volunteer Manager Appreciation Day, please visit


Your friends at Take Pride

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

New Take Pride Schools Poster

For all of you Take Pride Schools out there, we now have a new poster for you, promoting the program. Personally, we think it looks pretty sharp, and we'd love to share it with you and your school! So if you're a Take Pride School, or even interested in the program, let us know and we'd be happy to send you a few of the posters.

They're about 2x3, and are a great size for hanging in the halls or classroom.

By the way, if your school hasn't partnered with us yet, you can always find more information on our website...or sign up...HERE


Leave a comment and let us know what you think about the new poster...

Friday, October 19, 2007

Pi Beta Phi students restore local river

Over 67 students from Pi Beta Phi School in Tennessee recently spent an afternoon volunteering at three different sites on the Little River (Great Smoky Mountains National Park).

They worked to remove the rock dams that visitors to the park have built over time. The constructed river dams and channels in the river disturb local fishes breeding habits, along with critical habitats for aquatic invertebrates and stream dwelling salamanders.

Local park visitors had built the dams and water channels to create space for tubing down the river, not knowing the effect it would have on the river as a whole.

Great work guys! It looks like they were able to have a good time as well. Check out the photo stream, you can really see a difference.

One of the best parts about the whole day was that no one busted any fingers or toes! Believe me, that’s no small feat.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Wrapping up our first "VolunTour Across America"

Well, we've arrived safe and sound back in Washington, D.C. after a very long and successful VolunTOUR on the West Coast!

We kicked off our tour pitching in at a National Public Lands Day event in Golden Gate National Park Recreation Area. We then journeyed north in our official VolunTour Toyota Prius for several other events, taking us all the way up the Pacific coast to Washington state. The west coast is a beautiful part of the country and I will always treasure the time I spent out there meeting such dedicated citizens and stewards of our land.

We could not have done this without the support from the event organizers and volunteers. It was an honor meeting each and every one of you. I was so inspired visiting with volunteers young and old; from Freemont Middle School students to retired military chaplains, your spirit of giving back represents what makes America so great.

So while this does mark the end of our first VolunTour Across America, it won't be our last! We look forward to working with and visiting as many of you as we can in the future. Send us a line if you'd like to partner with us or get involved in future trips.

Once again...Thank you all!


Sunday, October 7, 2007

VolunTouring to Mount Rainier

Today we visited Mount Rainier National Park. Mount Rainier is located in Central Washington state and is recovering from extremely destructive flooding that took place in November 2006 which you can learn more about HERE:

We were honored to meet with the Mount Rainier National Park Volunteer Coordinator Kevin Bacher who was gracious enough to outline the park's exemplary volunteer program and show us around the park. We were joined by Jill Baum, who is leading the Student Conservation Association Mount Rainier Recovery Effort.

What was most impressive was the way the park has built partnerships with the community in its recovery and the outpouring of support from the volunteers. Tens of thousands of hours were contributed by over 1,500 volunteers this year rebuilding the trails and campsites that were destroyed by the floods.

Our thanks to Kevin Bacher and Jill Baum for their time and dedication. Our best wishes for a continued recovery at this beautiful site!

Here are a couple shots

Lisa Young, Kevin Bacher, Heather Roebke, and Jill Baum at the Paradise Visitor Center

Friday, October 5, 2007

Umpqua River Cleanup

Today we joined students from Fremont Middle School and Riddle Education Center for a cleanup of the Umpqua River in Roseburg, Oregon.

It was a pretty chilly morning, but we had a great turnout with lots of energized students ready to hit the trails and head down to the river.

We found lots of things to remove from the river and its banks, including a car tire! Fremont Middle and Riddle are both Take Pride Schools and we are forever grateful for their ongoing commitment to our public lands. To learn how how your school can sign up to be a Take Pride School, click here!

Our thanks to Joseph Ross and the rest of the staff of the Bureau of Land Management Roseburg Office who helped put this together.

Check out some of the photos below:

Students after a long day of picking up trash

Fremont students volunteering

Heather picking up trash


****UPDATE**** You can view a slideshow of more pics......HERE

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Redwood National Park Awards Ceremony

Today we presented Bob Deal the Take Pride Bronze Award for his service at the Redwoods National Park. Bob is a retired military chaplain who volunteers much of his time at the visitor centers. One of 184 dedicated volunteers at this beautiful park, Mr. Deal has contributed 1,500 hours of service.

It was a privilege to present him this well-deserved honor. Click here to learn more about the Hours of Service Awards program.

Many thanks to Redwoods National Park volunteer coordinator Deborah Savage for putting this event together and providing us a wonderful tour of the Redwoods Forest!


Tuesday, October 2, 2007

On the road....

Hey guys,

As you may know, we're on the road all week out here on the West coast. This afternoon we'll be in Crescent City, California for a Volunteer Awards presentation. We will be presenting Bob Deal with the Take Pride in America Bronze Volunteer Service Award, for his dedication to Redwood National Park. Bob has given over 1,500 hours of his time to Redwood park! Incredible...

Check back for more from the road.

The above photo is us driving through the famous Chandelier Redwood tree (established in 400 B.C.).


Monday, October 1, 2007

"VolunTour Across America" in Baker Beach, California

Hello everyone,

We've had a great trip so far on our VolunTOUR! The kickoff on Saturday was a National Public Lands Day event at Baker Beach, an area within Golden Gate National Recreation Area in San Francisco.

Volunteers, young and old, showed up to help pick up litter and remove invasive species on a beautiful Saturday morning.

I was so inspired by the community involvement, which included the Parks Conservancy, REI, the National Park Service, and representation from Governor Schwarzenegger's San Francisco office. Check out some of the coverage in the San Francisco Chronicle.

We were blessed with warm weather and plenty of volunteers who made a big impact on this beautiful public space.

Today we continue our trip up the Pacific Coast in our Toyota Prius towards the National Redwood Forest for a volunteer recognition event.

Check out the event photos...HERE


Friday, September 28, 2007

Kicking off the VolunTour

Well, we're out here in San Fran to kick off our "VolunTour Across America," and let me tell you, the city is gorgeous!

Tomorrow morning is our first event, which is also National Public Lands Day. We'll be at Baker Beach from 9 a.m. to Noon, for a Take Pride in America cleanup event.

We're excited to get out there and meet all of our partners and friends from the Bay area. If you're in the San Francisco area tomorrow, stop on by and join us.

The address is:
Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Baker Beach. Lincoln Blvd. and Bowley St. San Francisco, CA 94129

Stay tuned for more updates from the road...

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Hunting Island State Park (SC), Beach Sweep 2007

This past weekend, over 200 anxious volunteers gathered on a hot and humid Saturday morning to clean the beaches of Hunting Island State Park.

It was remarkable how organized this event was, and that is in large part due to the efforts of Karen Whitehead. Karen is a member off the Friends board and serves as the litter control program coordinator. She runs a tight ship, and her hard work paid off in the end with a very successful event.

My trip was complete when I had the opportunity to watch Karen and Vivian Wayne, the Friends turtle program coordinator, inventory a Loggerhead Sea Turtle nest. Three little turtles were hatched and slowly made their way to the ocean. It was quite a sight and I was amazed at the dedication of these volunteers who visit the park twice a day during turtle season to watch over these little guys.

I would like to especially thank Bonnie Wright, for her hospitality and contagious enthusiasm for this amazing state park. Also, thank you to the board of the Friends group and park manager Jeff Atkins for making my trip so memorable.

The event was sponsored by the Friends of Hunting Island State Park, the 2007 Take Pride in America National Award winner in the non-profit category, and included support from many local organizations. Volunteers from the Rotary Club of the Low Country, the NJROTC from Wade Hampton High School, Beaufort High School, Beaufort Middle School, Interact Groups, Dataw Garden Club, Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Brownie Troops, Girl Scouts and Kayak Farm all pitched in to beautify South Carolina’s most visited state park.


Ft. Pulaski Volunteer Recognition

The volunteers at Ft. Pulaski National Monument in Savannah, GA are a hard working, dedicated crew. Collecting entrance fees, maintaining the grounds, and providing visitors with detailed accounts of life on the fort during the Civil War....they do it all.

I had the pleasure of meeting with the park Superintendent, Charles Fenwick, and the park volunteer coordinator, Ron Grissom, along with some of these devoted volunteers last Thursday. We gathered to honor one volunteer in particular, Rich Puljung, who has achieved the Presidential Volunteer Service Gold Award for contributing 500 hours of service. Rich, along with the other volunteers, shared their thoughts on volunteering, and I was impressed by their commitment and desire to help in the preservation of this national treasure.

Many thanks to the volunteers and staff for making my visit to Ft. Pulaski memorable and enjoyable! I especially enjoyed the Musket and Soldier Demonstration by volunteer Bob Hatfield.


Monday, September 17, 2007

International Coastal Cleanup Day---Lakeshore Cleanup in Kentucky

What better way to spend a Saturday than to volunteer outdoors?!

This past weekend I was honored to join the 20th Annual Trashmasters Classic Lakeshore Cleanup at Barren River Lake in Glasgow, Kentucky. It's a small town with a big heart - over 600 people came out to help cleanup the lake.

Sponsored by the U.S. Corps of Engineers and the Barren River Lake State Resort Park, this cleanup was an inspiring example of how several groups can come together to make a BIG difference. Boy Scouts, local businesses, young and old worked side by side to collect tons of trash and make their community cleaner and stronger.

A very special thanks to Kevin Salvilla from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Monica Conrad, Barren River Lake State Resort Park Manager.

I wasn't the only one that noticed the hard work everyone did on Saturday, check out the stories in the local press.

Trashmasters Classic Keeps Lake Clean---WBKO-TV

Hundreds head to lake for Trashmaster's Classic---Bowling Green Daily News

Unfortunately, due to technical difficulties (the camera broke), we won't have pictures of the event for a few days. However, stay tuned, we will be sure to add them to the blog as soon as we can.

That's it for now....


On the road in Nashville, Tennessee

I recently got the chance to visit J. Percy Priest Lake in Nashville, Tennessee. This beautiful lake and surrounding land is managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Just 15 minutes from downtown Nashville, Priest Lake welcomes over 6 million visitors each year. I was surprised to learn that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers manages over 4,000 recreation areas and over 100,000 camping sites across the country!!

Thanks to their effective Volunteer Clearinghouse, the Corps has a dedicated group of volunteers to help maintain these national treasures. A special note of thanks to Volunteer Clearinghouse Director Carolyn Bauer and Resource ManagerTodd Yann for taking the time to show me around.


Great Smoky Mountains Award Ceremony

Hi everyone,

What a week it's been! I had the awesome opportunity to visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee last Thursday. What a beautiful park - and what committed volunteers!

It was an honor to present Take Pride Hours of Service Awards to 6 very special people who have each served over 3,000 hours at the Great Smokies.
A very special thanks to VIP Coordinator Babette Collavo and Park Superintendent Dale Ditmanson for their hospitality and their work to recognize the park's dedicated volunteers.
If you'd like to hear more about the event, you can find our press release here.
Also, the Mountain Press and Knoxville News Sentinel had a couple of good stories on the afternoon's events, check 'em out.
5 Tennesseans Get Park Service Awards---The Knoxville News Sentinel

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Hitting the road with Toyota

Hey guys,

We've got big things happening here at Take Pride. September marks the kickoff for our VolunTour across America. As part of Take Pride’s ongoing partnership with Toyota, we will be touring the country in a Take Pride in America Toyota Prius to promote volunteerism.

Beginning on September 29th we will be in California, starting in San Francisco, to tour the west coast. Our first tour will include stops in: San Fransisco, Crescent City, Roseburg (OR), and Mt Ranier (WA).

Let us know if you’re in the area and would like to get involved in the tour! You can reach us at or just respond here on the blog.

New Blog Kickoff

Well, this is it, Take Pride in America is venturing out into new territory...the world of blogs!

Here in the Take Pride office, it's important for us to keep in touch with you guys, as there are literally thousands of volunteers, Take Pride Schools, and partners across the country.

In order to better do that, we thought we'd this blog a try. We'd love to build an ongoing dialogue with you as you promote Take Pride's spirit of volunteerism across the country.

Feel free to leave comments on the blog, as well as let us know what kind of things (Events, stories, pics, etc) you'd like to see more of. Also, if you have any tips or words of advice for other Take Pride volunteers and schools, leave them as comments on the blog or email us with them.