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