Effigy Mounds seeks volunteers

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Effigy Mounds National Monument is looking for volunteers to help man its visitor center. (NIT file photo)

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times

Effigy Mounds National Monument is looking for volunteers to help man its visitor center. 

“It’s a fun job,” said Jessica Pope, chief of interpretation at Effigy Mounds. “Volunteers will greet visitors when they arrive and help them plan activities while they’re here.” 

Other duties will include helping with the cash register and creating floor displays. Volunteers can also help kids learn more about the National Park Service’s Junior Ranger Program, and present them with their patch and certificate when they’ve completed the necessary activities. 

It’s an important position, noted Pope, because “it’s often visitors’ first chance to talk to someone, pick up a map and learn about the trails.” 

Pope said Effigy Mounds has been short-staffed throughout the summer, forcing rangers to spend more time working at the visitor center. Having volunteers help at the visitor center desk will allow the rangers to get out on the Effigy Mounds trails. 

“We really need to have a presence at Marching Bear,” which Pope said is one of Effigy Mounds’ most beautiful but more remote areas. “We can’t do that without staff.” 

Pope said the issue isn’t an uncommon one for national parks and monuments. 

“Pretty much all national parks rely on volunteers,” she said. “There just isn’t the budget to staff them, and there’s too much to do.” 

Becoming a volunteer is fairly easy, said Pope, and park staff will train any individuals who are interested. Volunteers should have a positive attitude, have strong customer service skills and enjoy working with the public. A background check will have to be completed. 

In addition to giving a few hours of their time each week in a fun environment, Pope said volunteers will also get to learn more about Effigy Mounds, which is located north of Marquette. 

“It’s a really special park. It’s equally as beautiful as a place like Grand Canyon,” noted Pope, referencing the national park where she worked before heading to Iowa earlier this year. 

On a busy day over the summer, Pope said the Effigy Mounds visitor center saw anywhere from 120 to 350 people. That doesn’t include visitors who simply utilize the monument’s trails. Weekends, she added, are even busier, and the fall color season will see an influx of visitors. 

To learn more about how you can get involved, contact Effigy Mounds National Monument at (563) 873-3491.

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