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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.