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2014 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Friends of Acadia

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Environment, Land Resources Conservation, Natural Resources Conservation & Protection

Mission: Friends of Acadia preserves, protects and promotes stewardship of the outstanding natural beauty, ecological vitality, and distinctive cultural resources of Acadia National Park and the surrounding communities for the inspiration and enjoyment of current and future generations.

Programs: Friends of acadia makes grants from its acadia trails forever project fund to the anp trails program to maintain the park's 130 miles of trails. Projects in 2014 included the asticou/jordan pond connector trail that included rehabilitating 2 historic stone culverts and adding 29 new culverts in low lying areas, and restoring hundreds of feet of side drainage ditches. In addition, restoration of the gorge path that goes all the way to the cadillac summit was completed, and the quarry path and otter cove trails were finished. The park also completed the environmental compliance needed for the upcoming 2015 trail work. The acadia youth conservation corps assists with various projects, including cleaning drainage ditches and cutting and hauling brush. Friends of acadia makes grants from its acadia trails forever project fund to the anp trails program to maintain the park's 130 miles of trails. Projects in 2014 included the asticou/jordan pond connector trail that included rehabilitating 2 historic stone culverts and adding 29 new culverts in low lying areas, and restoring hundreds of feet of side drainage ditches. In addition, restoration of the gorge path that goes all the way to the cadillac summit was completed, and the quarry path and otter cove trails were finished. The park also completed the environmental compliance needed for the upcoming 2015 trail work. The acadia youth conservation corps assists with various projects, including cleaning drainage ditches and cutting and hauling brush.

the island explorer is a fare-free, seasonal, propane-powered bus system that runs through acadia national park and its surrounding gateway communities. Since its first day of operation in 1999, 5. 48 million visitors have ridden the bus, approximately 2. 08 million private vehicle trips have been eliminated, reducing smog causing pollutants by an estimated 29. 3 tons and green house gas emissions by over 19,187 tons. Friends of acadia has been involved with the bus systems since its inception, granting over $3 million in funding, and securing $2. 8 million in grants from l. L. Bean and others to enable the system to grow. Friends of acadia's grant supports the operating costs of 28 buses on mount desert island, and one on the schoodic peninsula.

the carriage road maintenance grant makes possible the salaries of six acadia national park workers who perform regular maintenance of the park's 44 miles of historic carriage roads. In 2014, the workers rock-raked, dragged smooth, and rolled the entire carriage road system at the beginning and end of the season. They restored vistas on the around mountain loop, spent two months removing fallen and dead trees from the entire system, and recovered and reset dislodged coping stones. This program uses thousands of volunteer hours from foa's volunteer program, and also uses the acadia youth conservation corps student employees.

additionally, friends of acadia contributes to a variety of community outreach events such as take pride in acadia day, national trails day, earth day roadside clean-up, and national public lands day. In partnership with acadia national park, friends implements and contributes to other programs including the ridge runners, the wild gardens of acadia, the acadia winter trails association, exotic plant eradication, wheelchair accessible carriages and trails, acadia quest, the acadia youth technology team, the night sky initiative, the peregrine falcon and hawk watch program, teacher ranger teacher program, water quality monitoring and a volunteer program that contributes over 3,400 hours of time to maintain acadia's trails and carriage roads.

Community Stories

50 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This campaign is near and dear to our hearts; this group is beyond outstanding!

Donor

Rating: 5

Friends of Acadia makes a huge difference in restoring and maintaining the beautiful trails and vistas of Acadia NP and keeping it accessible to increasing numbers of visitors. I have visited this park for fifty years and I see every time how Friends of Acadia has preserved and enhanced its beauty.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Friends of Acadia does great work helping Acadia National Park. I don't get to visit often so Is love all the posts on their website and Facebook page with beautiful photos of my favorite part of the country. Keep up the good work. I love staying informed even when I'm far away.

1 Susan342

Donor

Rating: 5

Friends of Acadia - in many ways - is the backbone of Acadia National Park.
While our national park system was designed for everyone
it is through the hard work of FOA
that each individual genuinely feels that connection!

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Friends of Acadia is one of the best NP's that I have ever been a part of. They add so much to our community. They provide needed jobs for our local 15-18 year olds by sponsoring jobs in Acadia National Park, as well as Ridge Runner positions for older college students. They organize many volunteer days for locals and visitors and have benefited our local economy as well as being a great support for Acadia National Park. One of the best things is that the employees of FOA are also active in many other smaller non-profits in the area and offer their expertise and time willingly.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am proud to be a member and volunteer of FOA. The pristine condition of the trails and carriage roads make our hiking most pleasurable. I also strongly support the role of the Island Explorer bus and advocate its use to everyone I meet in the park. I have never volunteered for an organization that showed such appreciation for my efforts. Thank you FOA for all you do!

Donor

Rating: 5

Everywhere on the trails of Acadia National Park you see evidence of their work, from trail maintenance to involving youth. They help supplement park service budget at a time of uncertain funding. Every national park should have a friend like the Friends of Acadia.

Donor

Rating: 5

We love everything about Acadia National Park and support the great efforts of Friends of Acadia who preserve the Park and surrounding area, in all it's various forms from carriage/hiking/biking trail's infrastructure, to it's plant life, and wildlife to it's water and air quality. Friends of Acadia organization works with many other preservation organizations, the towns in the region and local land owners to find way to keep the park and surrounding area as pristine as possible for generations to come. Their new mission is encouraging young people to explore and enjoy the wonders and benefits of the park and outdoor activities. Visit Acadia National Park, see the beauty, feel serenity and you will want to join with Friends of Acadia and their support their great mission!

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

The work FOA does to support Acadia National Park is invaluable and vital to the health of the resource. Without their work maintaining trails and providing education as well as fundraising, I can't imagine what our visits to the park would look like. The federal government needs nonprofits like FOA to fill in the gaps in funding and to even do some of the essential jobs to maintain the park. It is a true wonder of the natural world, and we are all the richer for the work of FOA.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Friends of Acadia is the essence of what it takes to keep Acadia National Park pristine and beautiful. Through their volunteer efforts the Carriage Trails, bridges, and other unique aspects of the park are kept up so others can continue to enjoy the park and all it has to offer. Without them, a way of life and connection to nature would not be as secure as it is. Join them !!!

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Friends of Acadia helps protect and preserve one of our greatest national parks. They do work that could not be completed with the current budget restraints. Through there work hiking trails, carriage roads, and other important aspects of the park look great.

Jon_23

Donor

Rating: 5

Friends of Acadia does wonders to improve and protect Acadia National Park, involve and benefit the communities that surround the park, and promote and nurture volunteerism near and far.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Friends of Acadia (FOA) is an outstanding organization devoted to Acadia National Park (ANP), in particular, and the great outdoors, more globally. For the past eight years, I've been volunteering for FOA as a crew leader and office worker and have never felt so appreciated. It's not the hats or t-shirts or even special luncheons they treat us to that do it for me, but rather the sincere gratitude the whole FOA staff expresses every time anyone volunteers their time and energy. The volunteers are held in high esteem and our value as contributors to the Park's welfare and the greater good is never taken for granted.

The staff at FOA are hard working and dedicated. No gala is too big or trail installation too daunting for FOA to take it on and manage it with style and grace. The people there embody espirit de corps and continually seek new ways to connect with people and organizations to promote ANP in all its glory.

I am honored and grateful to be a part of FOA and am always proud at what they do. You would be too!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I support Friends of Acadia because the organization and its volunteers work to preserve what is important to me-a way of life that includes the natural beauty of Acadia National Park. The programs of FOA, including the island wide bus system, The Wild Gardens of Acadia, and the many activities designed to encourage young people to develop an understanding of the importance of preserving our natural heritage, all seem to further a way of life available few other places in the US.

I am grateful and recognize that this work has not been accomplished without the vision, knowledge, and hard work of those associated with the organization. I am always interested to notice that the staff and the board lead by example and are always on hand to help implement events and programming.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Friends of Acadia makes a great park greater. Acadia National Park is a relatively small park, but it is close to densely populated areas. Friends of Acadia plays an essential role in engaging visitors in easily overlooked aspects of Acadia National Park, making the park experience much richer, all the while helping to protect Acadia in a myriad of ways. They amplify the Park's voice, make the trails and transit system a joy to use, and help provide wide and clear vision for Acadia's future.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Many years (decades) ago, my wife and I started spending vacations in Acadia. These were precious one or two week escapes from the workaday world and life in suburbia. I always loved outdoor activities of every kind but gradually come to emphasize hiking/walking because of their simplicity and high ratio of reward to cost (time, money, other). We vacationed in many places, but i liked Acadia best because it is a hiker's paradise. Although i volunteered to work on organizing hikes and doing trail work in my own neighborhood, i never once volunteered in Acadia during all those vacations. On one occasion, while bicycling on the carriage roads, i passed a group of volunteers lined up along a roadside ditch on their knees digging out growth which blocked drainage. Negatively, i thought, "Why waste your time in such a beautiful location on your knees grubbing weeds out of a ditch?"

Later, i left my full time job to work as a consultant and we went to live on Mount Desert Island so that i could spend my spare time hiking and biking amidst Acadia's beauty. With time to spend, i appreciated Acadia's network of trails and carriage roads even more. Because of my hiking and trail work experience in other places, I knew that Acadia's vast network of trails and carriage roads required a lot of labor.

I also wanted to connect with my community and its many, many visitors. I took a job at a popular restaurant with the duty of, amongst other things, informing visitors about the history and recreational opportunities in Acadia. To be effective in my job i hiked even more and did a lot of reading about Acadia. A person with whom i worked in a small booth told me about her volunteer work with Friends of Acadia. In that small booth we shared there were many leaflets and fliers to give visitors information about Acadia. One of those described the opportunity to volunteer with FOA on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday mornings during the warmer months, and i did so from time to time.

Those few mornings volunteering with FOA introduced me to a whole set of people who volunteered regularly. Some of them lived on Mount Desert Island all year and had retired here from somewhere else. Some of them spent the summer here. Some of them volunteered during annual vacations. One way or another all shared an interest in the Acadia region's history and attractions. Many were also avid hikers or cyclists. I like these people and volunteered more and more to enjoy their company and the work we did together, but not as much as I would have liked to because of the time constraint of my summer job.

One day, an FOA employee whose task it was to organize the volunteers, furnish them tools, transportation, and training, and coordinate with the National Park Service to find meaningful tasks that could be accomplished by volunteers, told me that he had decided to quit his job, not because he did not like it, but because an injury was making it difficult for him to carry out the physical part of the job. He told me this when I encountered him leading a group of volunteers working on a trail where i was taking a recreational hike. He and his colleague were impressed with me because I volunteered on rainy days when almost noone else did so. I did that not because i liked working in the rain for no pay, but because i liked being with them and believe that one can always have fun outdoors if properly clothed and equipped with the right attitude. With his encouragement and that of his colleague, I applied for a vacancy opened by his departure, and became an FOA employee.

As an FOA employee working with my old volunteer colleagues and NPS staff, I learned more about FOA, its Board and its staff. One thing that surprised me was the extent to which NPS staff appreciated the work of volunteers. Certainly we were around only a few hours a week in good weather and lacked their skil, but volunteers nevertheless performed critical jobs well. Also, i was surprised by the amount of volunteer work done in Acadia by groups of high school and college students. Those who volunteer two or three mornings a week almost never see the large groups of students and summer campers who come to Acadia specifically to spend a week doing volunteer work, thereby contributing as many hours as the older volunteers. These youth are not as skilled as older volunteers who have done this work for years, but they are strong and enthusiastic. I loved my work and FOA, but i left the job after a few years because i did not want the stress of full time work. I did not leave FOA. I am back to volunteering, and my wife and i donate as much money as we can, a pittance compared to FOA's needs, to further FOA's mission.

FOA staff get around the country meeting staff of similar organizations at other national parks. They always say that others envy the scope and enthusiasm of FOA's volunteer program. Well, you would expect them to say that, but it is true. We visit other national parks and i always look for volunteer opportunities there. None have "friend" organizations as successful as FOA. There are many reasons for this.

Most national parks are in remote areas. Acadia is on an island, half of which is not in Acadia National Park, surrounded by vibrant communities that depend on tourism. Acadia National Park is not the result of a government agency setting aside uninhabited land for a national park extending over hundreds of square miles. It is the result of dedicated local land owners purchasing or donating small plots of land here and there to preserve them from being over run by tourists or destroyed by unsustainable economic activities. The trails and carriage roads that FOA volunteers work so hard to preserve and protect as an adjunct to the even greater effforts of NPS staff were, mostly, built by private individuals long before the establishment of the National Park Service. Indeed, although the NPS maintains over a hundred miles of hiking trails, an equal amount of hiking trails built by volunteers are abandoned because NPS does not have the resources to maintain them. Acadia National Park is, in sum, not a government project. It started as a volunteer project and volunteers, organized and funded (because even free labor has to be supported with tools, transportation, coordination, and training) by FOA are critical components of its ongoing existence. People realize this and they come together to keep it going.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

The non profit group,Friends of Acadia, not only runs numerous programs in conjunction with the National Park Service, they also help maintain the splendor of Acadia through volunteer efforts that bring the community together and improve the park for all. They send out a wonderful newsletter, to those that are interested in receiving it, detailing all their programs and initiatives. I live far from Acadia, and miss it when I am not there, but the news letter not only keeps me informed, it brings back many happy memories from our trips to my favorite place in the world.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Friends of Acadia works hand in hand with the Park and finds constructive ways to get people actively involved with supporting and caring for the park. Friends of Acadia is behind or actively engaged in every innovative idea that the Park tries out. People of all ages and backgrounds come together and know they all love this special place. Friends of Acadia keeps us all in touch with the park and with each other.

Lee_26

Client Served

Rating: 5

I am a member of Friends of Acadia even though I only get to be there a few weeks each year. It works to provide not only an amazing place of beauty and grandeur but also a climate of healing and hope.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I am a member of Friends of Acadia, which does a wonderful job of communicating park activities to members. I joined because I appreciated all the work that they do to improve the park, fund projects, and more. Friends of Acadia volunteers and staff, and workers hired by the organization, spend many hours each year cleaning the park, restoring trails, building boardwalks, facilitating the use of buses instead of cars to transport people inside the park, and more.

Susan196

Client Served

Rating: 5

I love Friends of Acadia because the support Acadia National Park. Acadia National Park is a beautiful and special place that needs the support of an organization like Friends of Acadia. Friends of Acadia also promotes the park and has unique programs for young people. Also, it organizes volunteers to do work in the park.

Nikki11

Volunteer

Rating: 5

A great organization with many different opportunities and creative programs for every age, experience and skill level. Friends of Acadia works to make sure all volunteers get the experience they're looking for while helping to preserve the natural state of our beautiful island!

Lisa228

Donor

Rating: 5

The work they do in and for the park is so essential to keeping it attractive and usable for visitors, plus, they make a lot of information available to help people find their way around the park and to find interesting things to do in the park that will suit them. Besides, Acadia is an awesome park! Also, their fundraising outreach is tasteful, respectful and informative.

Carol69

Client Served

Rating: 5

This organization does so much for one of the finest parks in the country! No matter your age or your mobility, there is so much beauty to see and activities to enjoy. Truly accessible and the Friends of Acadia help it be so by their partnership with ANP.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This organization makes Acadia National Park evn more special than it already is. A fine example of private/public partnership.

Previous Stories

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Incredible organization with a commitment to preserving and improving an incredible national treasure.
Dedicated staff and volunteers and supporters.

Carrie34

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Not just Acadia National Park, but the entire island would be incomplete without Friends of Acadia galvanizing people from everywhere to volunteer to keep our Acadia beautiful and safe. My daughter who is a senior in high school is planning on majoring in business management because she wants to be a fundraiser for a nonprofit organization such as Friends of Acadia.

Marshall G.

Donor

Rating: 4

FoA continues to build on its amazing track record of success in galvanizing support for Acadia National Park, one of this nations most beautiful places. My interactions with the staff have always been top notch. I have always enjoyed the events and activities in which I am able to participate. It's a great nonprofit doing great work.

Kathe2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Friends of Acadia members do an AMAZING job making improvements to our beautiful Acadia National Park. We especially appreciate the hard work they do to help to maintain and even BUILD new trails in the park. What a gift they are to ANP!

Tom P.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I have tried to visit ANP yearly since moving back to New England in 1998. It is a wonderful experience, and programmed activities only add to the natural value of the Park. Without assistance from FOA, this park could not operated at the high quality that it does, and it would surely be showing significantly more signs of wear and tear from the heavy traffic it receives.

Mike55

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

We don't get to visit as often as we like, but when we do we always find this park so well kept and the staff you cone across is always so helpful and accommodating.

Donor

Rating: 5

FOA always keeps me up to date with the exciting things happening at Acadia! I look forward to each newsletter.

Board Member

Rating: 5

Friends of Acadia is a top notch organization in every way: it has a clear mission broadly shared by the organization's membership and Board; visionary leadership that listens to the community and its members; collaborates actively with other like-minded nonprofits; works to support Park priorities where appropriate; careful stewards of donations and funds; thoughtful in taking positions and key issues; and knows how to make being active in the organization fun and rewarding. From picking up trash along the roadsides, family fun day, to the annual benefit auction, this is a an exceptionally well-run and effective group.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I have been coming to this amazing place each summer for 33 years. The thing that is most amazing to me is that it hasnt' changed much, only in a positive way, maintaining and improving what is there in the first place. You can feel how much this land is loved and cared for by Friends of Acadia and I have supported them every year in their fine efforts. I first came to Acadia alone, then with my wife, then my children and now my grandchild. I always ask them around now, do you want to go somewhere else? They say NO! We want to always go to Acadia. Thank you FOA for offering people a time to just focus on this beautiful piece of the earth.

Nancy65

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Acadia National Park is one of our country's most beautiful national parks and recreation areas. The Friends of Acadia are unlike any group we know of affiliated with a national park. They work hand in hand with the Park, with a large group of volunteers, in maintaining hiking trials and the carriage road paths used by walkers and bikers. They also raise awareness of Acadia, it's history, it's opportunities and needs and conservation efforts. We discovered Acadia nine years ago and it is our favorite vacation destination. The friends of Acadia newsletter keeps us connected with Acadia throughout the year. Through it, we feel at one with the natural beauty and the incredible history of Acadia. In retirement we hope to spend more time in Acadia and become active volunteers with the Friends of Acadia, working side by side with others devoted to working in nature and conserving the beauty of this national park treasure for many generations to come.

Megan30

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I live in the Acadia National Park area. Friends of Acadia makes the park so much better, and puts on lots of interesting programs to encourage us to use the park. My whole family volunteers with them as well.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I worked for Friends of Acadia for 16 years, and it was some of the most creative, caring work I've ever done. I loved being a partner to one of America's national parks, with the surrounding communities, and with so many people who care deeply about this place and with the national park promise. It was an experience of shared commitment, concern, and positive hopefulness.

Amy_38

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My two kids and I have helped raked the Carriage Road in Acadia National Park and volunteered at different educational stations on Family Fun Day in July. Friends of Acadia thanks all volunteers with a cruise and small dinner every September. But this year was the first time we heard about it and joined the cruise. It was awesome. I have also volunteered with other organizations, but Friends of Acadia is the best so far in terms of how it's organized and how they show their appreciation to volunteers.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Acadia National Park is an American treasure. I have enjoyed hiking and biking and swimming in the park since moving to Mount Desert Island nearly 25 years ago. Friends of Acadia does outstanding work preserving the park, working with volunteers and partners to keep it clean and safe. Bravo!

Donor

Rating: 5

What does Friends of Acadia do? A better question would be, what don't they do? My husband and our two dogs and I visit Acadia National Park every year, and even with the difficulties that all the parks are experiencing in the last 15 years in terms of funding, we are continually amazed. The park would definitely not be in such great shape without the support--in terms of money, time, volunteers, scientific endeavors, creative projects, corporate involvement, resources, etc.--of FOA. I look forward each year not only to visiting ANP and the surrounding communities of Mount Desert Island, but I actually crave receiving the FOA Journal in the mail three times a year, along with the superbly produced annual report! FOA creates a community that cares not only about the park, but about nature and youth and peace and education and beauty and ethics--in short, all the things that make us human and make us yearn for a better future. In his book Time and Tide in Acadia, Christopher Camuto writes that, "Some days, walking Acadian summits, soaking up the informed silence of these moubtains, you'll want to bow to everything you see." I would submit that there are times when I visit the wonders of Mount Desert Island, I feel the same sort of reverence for the wonderful folks at Friends of Acadia.

Mj S.

Donor

Rating: 5

Acadia National Park is a gift to all of us. Last year I started a hiking group and my friends at Friends of Acadia were of great help to me putting the group together. We hiked a total of 48 trails and each time you could see all the great work and energy Friends have done. With the new trail marker and keeping the trails nice. The park is lucky to have them working so hard at keeping it so pretty. So in closing I would like to say, Thank You Friends Of Acadia for being here.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Friends of Acadia is known to everyone on Mount Desert Island as the organization that works to preserve the natural resources of Acadia National Park. I have admired and supported FOA for years but have only recently, as a volunteer in the Wild Gardens of Acadia, had the opportunity to work closely with their board and staff . The Wild Gardens are gardens of native plant communities located within Acadia National Park. They began in 1961 as a volunteer project of the Bar Harbor Garden Club and have been sustained by volunteers since that time. As the Gardens grew and visitation increased it became increasingly difficult for volunteers to maintain them and the Gardens’ volunteers, fearing for the future, appealed for help from Friends of Acadia, an organization sharing the Gardens’ volunteers’ commitment to conservation of the Parks resources and to volunteerism. Friends of Acadia embraced the project and, working with the National Park, established in 2010 the Wild Gardens of Acadia Committee of Friends of Acadia. In the short time since the formal affiliation I have watched the Wild Gardens, always beautiful and always an asset to the Park, begin to realize their potential. Today a professional gardener, not volunteers, oversees the workings of the Gardens and guides the work of a student intern. Volunteers have been freed to serve as docents for the thousands of visitors and they help with the weeding and gardening when needed. They work with the Head Gardener to plan habitat restoration and with Friends of Acadia to plan for the future. Volunteers continue to help raise funds but now they have guidance and support in their efforts. Friends of Acadia, The Wild Gardens, and the Master Gardeners of Hancock County jointly published a guide to the native ferns last summer. Friends of Acadia has provided a structure in which these activities, and many others, are planned and support with which they are executed. Most importantly the Wild Gardens of Acadia, because of its association with Friends of Acadia, is assured of a future.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Being a volunteer for Friends of Acadia is a wonderful experience! Many opportunities are made available for volunteers according to their time and interests. volunteers work on the trails and carriage roads in Acadia National Park from May to November, clearing brush, rehabilitating old trails, creating new ones, clearing drainage ditches, and improving vistas. other volunteers help in the Wild Gardens at Sieur de Mont Springs, on the Schoodic Peninsula and with the annual summer fundraising gala. In the spring many volunteers join in the annual Earth Day cleanup, which makes the communities surrounding Acadia as beautiful as the park. in the fall hundreds of people from all over come to participate in Take Pride in Acadia Day. Friend of Acadia does a great job of providing some thing for everyone, families, school groups, outing clubs, young and old. Friends of Acadia educates and trains their volunteers, provides tools, transportation and support for their efforts. And volunteers are well recognized for their contribution to Acadia in many ways, making the whole effort a rewarding experience. The result? Volunteers provide more than 10,000 hours of help a year to preserve, protect and enhance Acadia while enjoying a sense of pride and camaraderie.

Jack R.

Board Member

Rating: 5

I was born and grew up on Mount Desert Island, so love of Acadia is my birthright. When i came home to the island in 2006 to life the last best third of life, I quickly joined Friends of Acadia. I have done regular volunteer work on ANP trails and carriage roads, done spring roadside clean-up on the island, written often for the FOA Journal, become a donor within my means, brought several friends into Friends and, since 2010, serve proudly and a member of the FOA Board, where I chair the Advocacy Committee. I am currently part of a team doing a full review of the FOA Strategic Plan. FOA gives me a community through which I can express values and commitment deeply important to me as a life-long conservationist. The strength and dedication of the FOA professional staff and the quality of my colleagues on the FOA Board make my investment in Friends a joyful natural act.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

As a resident of Mt. Desert Island and frequent user of beautiful but cash-strapped Acadia National Park, i am often surprised at how much Friends of Acadia does to further opportunities for visitors to the Park, who numbered more than 2,500.000 people last year. FOA organizes large numbers of volunteers who maintain and groom the legendary carriage roads I walk and ski on. I marvel as I hike mountain trails beautifully restored with FOA funds. I join local friends who volunteer for FOA's annual roadside cleanup, and have served on a committee that plans walking paths from villages to mountain trail complexes. Our young granddaughter has enjoyed an FOA family day which encourages children to experience the outdoors. I read the fine Friends of Acadia Journal from beginning to end for inspiration and information. I like knowing that any contributions to FOA will be leveraged to the full through partnerships and use of volunteers to benefit so many, many people.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

A couple of decades ago my wife and I discovered Acadia National Park. Over the years we spent some of our vacation time there. We've also visited national parks in the west. Acadia may not match some of the western parks for grand scenery, but it is certainly the most scenic place on the east coast. Acadia was close to home, but it took most of a day to get there and a day to return, leaving not much time out of a short vacation. We chose to make the drive of six or more hours to get there because of Acadia's natural beauty, visitor-friendly surrounding communities, and unique features.

Acadia's unique features include about 120 miles of hiking trails that typically lead to spectacular views within an hour, and a system of carriage roads, closed to motor vehicles, that cover 45 miles carefully planned to show the scenery without intruding on it. To add to the attraction, the carriage roads are festooned with beautiful stone bridges that carry the bicyclist or walker across babbling brooks and deep ravines while opening scenic ocean views. In addition, Acadia includes a remote peninsula encompassing an unspoiled section of Maine's rocky coast and most of a large island where visitors are limited and primitive camping under starlit skies is available. These features kept us coming back year after year. When it was time to retire we chose to live in Bar Harbor so that we could enjoy Acadia all year round.

What does a new retiree do with his time? How do people make friends in a new town? Friends of Acadia provided us with tools that make for a happy retirement. FOA helps to take care of a small national park that gets millions of visitors each year in a location beset with harsh winters and fierce storms bringing wind and rain in abundance off the Atlantic Ocean. This environment calls for a lot of work to keep heavily used hiking trails and carriage roads in decent repair. FOA helps by raising funds for an efficient public transportation system that eases visitor impact, by raising funds to furnish the Acadia National Park management with tools, equipment and paid staff to maintain and repair trails and carriage roads, and by encouraging and supporting volunteers who give up some of their time to help maintain Acadia.

As an FOA volunteer I learned about Acadia National Park's history. Unlike western national parks, Acadia was not created by setting aside an undeveloped wilderness already owned by the federal government. Acadia's history goes back a long ways. Its first European visitor, Samuel de Champlain, founded the first European settlement in eastern North America just a couple of hours east of here in 1604. After the Civil War wealthy Americans, including John D. Rockefeller Jr., brought their families to spend the summer here. These wealthy summer residents, called rusticators, built most of Acadia National Park's hiking trails and carriage roads either by hiring local labor or by doing the work themselves. Anxious to preserve Acadia's scenery from over development, they founded the Hancock County Trustees of Public Reservations, a non-profit organization that bought land and set it aside preserved from development. This private organization gave its land, with all of its privately built hiking trails and carriage roads, along with endowments for their upkeep in many cases, to the federal government for the establishment of the first national park in the east.

Unfortunately, two world wars and an economic depression reduced the federal government's ability to care for Acadia. In 1947 a wildfire burned half of Mount Desert Island, where the majority of the park's land is located. The 1947 fired burned many of the mansions used by rusticators during their summer stays and caused some of them to move on to other places. Hiking trails and carriage roads fell into disrepair and were subject to wash outsand land slides. It was difficult for visitors, whose numbers were reduced during wars and the depression, to enjoy Acadia. This and the 1947 fire devastated the local economy. Something had to be done to save Acadia.

Friends of Acadia was established in 1986 and began raising funds to restore and maintain Acadia. FOA established a permanent endowment for the carriage roads, worked against attempts to surround the park with unsuitable development, endowed the hiking trails, built or restored trails that connect the park to local communities thereby affording local residents the opportunity to enjoy the park without driving, partnered with L. L. Bean to establish and support a free public bus system to carry visitors and residents to and from the park and local lodging places and campgrounds, and sponsored and supported volunteers to work on Acadia's trails and carriage roads, which is where I came in.

Volunteering is really more about the volunteers than it is about the work they do, although any volunteer will be proud of his or her contribution to making the world a better place. In 2010 FOA volunteers contributed over 8,000 hours of their time to work on Acadia's trails and carriage roads. That is a lot of time, but it is unskilled labor that is the equivalent of less than ten seasonal employees. Volunteering has a tremendous impact on the volunteers themselves, the many visitors who see the volunteers at work, and people back home. Proud of their work, volunteers become enthusiastic stewards of Acadia National Park and parks in other places. That stewardship extends to political activity on behalf of parks. Visitors who see volunteers at work commonly offer profuse thanks, thereby enhancing the volunteer's good feelings, and become volunteers themselves either at Acadia or elsewhere. Some of FOA's volunteers spend the cooler months in the south, and, like one volunteer couple I know, volunteer as much at home, Great Smoky Mountains National Park in this instance, as they do at Acadia. Those 8,000 hours have a ripple effect worth many times the $100,000 or so it would cost to replace them with paid labor.

I volunteered for Friends of Acadia for about seven years and my wife volunteers for FOA as well. We have met many of our friends in this area through volunteering. Volunteers whom we have met play important roles in this community. They volunteer at their local library or provide rides to people who need transportation to medical services. In this way the circle of people one knows grows ever larger through networks of other volunteer activities. By volunteering I've learned a lot about Acadia National Park. Despite its small area and millions of visitors, Acadia contains hidden wonders unseen by most visitors that I've been privileged to see through volunteering.

The one thing that FOA's volunteer program has failed to do for the most part is to overcome the proclivity of today's young people to prefer staying inside with their electronic toys to getting out into nature by hiking and biking and kayaking. If we don't get young people involved in the outdoors we risk losing our parklands. In times of austerity how willing would they be to spend tax dollars on maintaining hiking trails or bike paths if they haven't climbed a mountain? If today's young people are fortunate enough to enjoy financial prosperity, how willing would they be to part with some of their wealth to support the environment if they haven't camped under the stars? FOA and many organizations are trying, but so far they have been unable to stem the ebbing tide of outdoor involvement. That has got to be the mission for the future.

Board Member

Rating: 5

Friends of Acadia (FOA) provides the margin of excellence for all who visit and experience Acadia National Park in Maine. Working with the National Park Service, FOA has helped to conserve or purchase and donate to the Park many acres of private land within and adjacent to Park boundaries to preserve the natural surroundings. FOA has secured private donations to keep a free, seasonal, hop-on, hop-off propane bus system (over 2 million riders to date) that has taken hundreds of cars out of the Park and off surrounding roads, and reduced CO2 and other air pollutants by tens of thousands of pounds. Miles of trails and carriage roads have been maintained with over $1 million from FOA, many of which my wife, Mary Ann and I hike with great delight each year. Mary Ann and I pick up roadside litter on Earth Day, courtesy of FOA organizing 400 volunteers on Mt. Desert Island, where the bulk of Park acreage is located, and we both volunteer at the FOA office for various jobs throughout the year.

Volunteer

Rating: 4

We first learned about Friends of Acadia when we retired and now spend six months in the Acadia area. We were drawn to FOA by all the volunteer support that gravitates to FOA. Much of the volunteer effort helps maintain Park trails, Park roads and financial support. We were interested in the development area and fund raising to help support the Park, as federal funds are not sufficient. The most known form of support is the transportation system of propane powered busses. These busses transport people free of charge anywhere in the Park and surrounding areas. The use of the bus system reduces the number of autos driven in the Park, thus reducing the carbon monoxide in the atmosphere. All is not work, as the annual gala party held in August is a wonderful dinner and fund raising auction that helps bind the energetic group of generour volunteers.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been associated with Friends of Acadia for more than 20 years in a volunteer capacity, most specifically helping with their benefit each summer to raise funds to support Acadia National Park. Their work to preserve this national treasure is unsurpassed. FOA also partnered with the Garden Club of Mt. Desert (of which I was President 2009-1010) and the Maine Natural History Observatory to publish "The Plants of Acadia National Park" in 2010, a field guide presenting 862 scientific descriptions of plants in the Park, which is used by botanists and visitors alike. The guide is in its second printing. I have never worked with more a more dedicated and professional staff than that of FOA. Their work is vital to the maintenance and care of one of our country's most beautiful national parks.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

we began volunteering for acadia in honor of and sadly in memory of our beloved niece Danielle Faramelli. We as a family of atleast 30 people have been going to acadia every year for over 30 years. in 2006 danielle has expressed to her parents that she would like to volunteer there to give back some of the happy times acadia has given us--sadly she was killed in a car accident at the age of 25 before she could ever do this--her mom and dad didnt know if they could ever go to maine again since the loss of their only child-that summer her mom decided she could go if volunteering was part of our vavation--she had no idea all 25 or 30 of us would show up that day in maine-needless to say we fulfilled Danielles wish and have been doing this in her honor every year when we return to the beautiful state of maine-we come from pa, and its a 14 hour drive-we have mostly 6 or 7 carloads of people going every year and we will continue to volunteer in her memory until there is no one left--which wont happen because the third generation has already started-my grandson has been with us there for all 3 of his years already and will be there this year for his fourth year---we all love all of maine--acadia is our favorite having provided us many memories and now the chance to give back is both an honor and privelege.