Mission: The Shenandoah National Park Trust’s (SNPT) mission is to invest in programs and initiatives which help ensure that Shenandoah remains a crown jewel of the Park Service, an economic driver for the region, and a national treasure for all to enjoy, for generations to come.
Community Need: One of the biggest challenges facing national parks is reduced federal funding. As visitation to Shenandoah National Park has continued to grow every year, federal funding has stayed at the same level or decreased. This means that the park often has to cut programs or delay projects in order to accommodate for the increased visitors with less funding. Funding challenges have greatly contributed to the $80 million backlog of deferred maintenance in Shenandoah that includes things like road and building maintenance. The Trust’s focus is to facilitate a public-private partnership by working with individuals, foundations, and corporations who see the value of having a national park in their backyard brings – both from environmental and economic standpoints. In addition to providing funds that help close the gap between the park’s needs and its federal budget, the Trust allows the park to compete for additional federal funding pools that are only available if they can provide private matching funds.
Primary Activities: The Trust focuses their projects and initiatives in four key strategic areas – protecting natural and cultural resources, connecting people to the park, youth education, and enhancing the park service. Each year they fund 15-17 different projects in these key areas including trail maintenance, youth summer camps, and special projects such as a historic restoration.
Constituents Served: The majority of their programs benefit everyone who enjoys and visits Shenandoah National Park. Their youth education programs focus on engaging underserved youth from a wide ranging geographic area, with additional focus on the gateway communities surrounding the park. Their volunteer projects also focus on high school and college students from the gateway communities. Shenandoah National Park is utilized by approximately 1.2 million people per year. In 2017, their youth education programs served: 7 park service interns who interacted with over 6,500 visitors as education and interpretation Rangers; 122 underserved youth from 3 states participated in day trips or week-long summer camps; and 2,500 children participated in field trips through their Ticket to Ride program.
Program Details: Last year the Trust helped Shenandoah National Park address a vital need – they had no dedicated staff to manage the hundreds of volunteers and groups who want to make an impact in the park each year. With the creation of the Trail Maintenance Volunteer Coordinator position, they expanded their capacity and in just one year they were able to engage 279 volunteers who provided 2,315 hours of service on over 27 different projects. Prior to the creation of this position, the park often had to turn away individuals and groups who wanted to volunteer and could not build relationships in local communities to provide on-going volunteer opportunities. After the initial success this position, the Trust would like to continue supporting this position. It would allow the Coordinator to focus some of their recruitment efforts in the park’s gateway communities of Staunton, Waynesboro, and Augusta and Nelson Counties. So far, $15,000 have been committed to fund the Coordinator position.
Amount Requested: $5,000
Operating Budget: $978,797