Volunteers are an invaluable part of the Corps of Engineers team. The Walla Walla District Corps of Engineers is responsible for thousands of acres of land in Washington, Idaho and Oregon. Proper management of those lands would not be possible without the volunteers who lend their time and abilities to the mission.
Every operating project within the Walla Walla District uses volunteers to help with various tasks, from performing maintenance or leading tours to developing maps and brochures or providing administrative assistance.
“This variety is essential to match each volunteer with the type of work they would like to perform. Whether that be an office environment, outdoor environment, or a combination of both,” Nathan Seibert, district volunteer coordinator with the Walla Walla District, said.
Except for writing policies or enforcing regulations, volunteers can help with almost any aspect of the Corps mission. Volunteering can be as simple as an afternoon picking up litter in a park. Other times, a volunteer opportunity can be a year-long position working as a park host at a Corps recreational site. Park hosts generally live on-site and are provided with a place to park an RV for the season while taking care of the recreational area and assisting visitors.
“I love the program. This program is tops. You get free rent, free power … you have a lot of nice people who walk the trail here, and it’s great. And the people here, the crew for the Corps, is fabulous. They’re all good people, they will listen to you, they even like to talk,” Charles Reed, grounds maintenance volunteer for Lower Granite’s Clarkston Natural Resources Office, said.
Many park host volunteers are retired individuals or couples. However, there are opportunities for people of any age range or association. Students, families, organizations, or any individual can find an opportunity to volunteer with the Corps.
Each project office has a volunteer coordinator who will work with anyone seeking a volunteer opportunity in the area around that project. For example, anyone seeking a volunteer opportunity at any parks along the Ice Harbor reservoir can contact Ice Harbor’s volunteer coordinator. Nathan Seibert serves as the Walla Walla District manager for the volunteer program and can assist with placement or answering questions.
Volunteer coordinators can help individuals or groups sign up for scheduled one-time volunteering events or walk them through the process of applying for a seasonal or year-long volunteer position. Coordinators can also help match interested individuals with ideal volunteer opportunities based on their interests and skill level.
“The biggest thing is that everything is provided to you, you get job descriptions, you get training, all these things that you need to learn to do your job correctly. And then you have the rangers and the other people that provide oversight, not oversight like somebody watching over you all the time. They’re there to help you and assist you in doing your job,” John Houser, former camp host volunteer at Swallows Park in Clarkston, said.
Volunteers looking for seasonal or year-long positions can find information in Workamper News (https://workamper.com/), a bimonthly and online publication for campers looking to work or volunteer. Another resource is Volunteer.gov, a website that lists volunteer opportunities from various government agencies, including the Corps. Other long-term volunteers maintain contact directly with the coordinator at operating projects.
“I would say to anyone that is thinking about volunteering or interested in volunteering, it is amazing how fulfilling a volunteer position can be, even though you’re not getting paid for it. You spend a lot of time doing things and you may end up doing things that you’ve never done before in your life. It does open a lot of doors,” Charlene Douglas, administration volunteer for Lower Granite’s Clarkston Natural Resources Office, said.
For more information about volunteer opportunities with the Walla Walla District, contact Nathan Seibert at (509) 527-7126.