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The Pleasure of Purpose

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August 26, 2011 by wcobserver

Devil's Den Diary

By Rebekah Spurlock and Ginny Masullo

Do you love Devil’s Den State Park? Have you ever visited the park and thought, “They need to put a sign here to direct people” or “gosh, there is a lot of litter along the road!” What about, “Wow, I wish I could help at special events or with trail maintenance!” If so, consider joining our volunteer staff.

The volunteers of Devil’s Den State Park consist of a diverse group of concerned citizens that want to make a difference in their favorite state park – Devil’s Den! Our volunteers help with a variety of tasks from trail maintenance to visitor information services to leading interpretive programs.

Unfortunately most of us feel like we do not have time to volunteer or get involved, but volunteering at Devil’s Den State Park is a reward unto itself. It is a way to find time to connect with people, get a little exercise in the fresh air, or even feel good about what you are doing. Volunteering is something you could do every week or perhaps once a year at a special event.

Devil’s Den State Park has been fortunate to receive many volunteer hours through the past year from Master Gardeners keeping our flower beds blooming to Master Naturalists leading programs and maintaining trails to the Circle K Club from the University of Arkansas helping with visitor information services and the Friends of Devil’s Den State Park assisting with special events and funding projects. We also have received countless hours of trail work from the Cavalcade horse riders, Boy Scouts, and individuals wanting to make a difference.

Ginny Masullo, one of our continuous volunteers, shares an excerpt of what drew her to volunteer for Devil’s Den State Park, and what that experience has meant to her:

“Last summer, I briefly volunteered with some botanists who were doing plant surveys for the nature conservancy. A long time hiker with no purpose but moving through the terrain, I learned the pleasure of purpose in the woods. Experiencing the knowledge of these nature lovers, I wanted to learn more, I signed-up in January of this year for the Arkansas Master Naturalist program, which I finished in May. While in training, I approached the park about my leading “Hike and Haiku Hikes.” This led to my weekly volunteering visits to Devil’s Den State Park where I am learning and growing my knowledge of the natural world.

It’s August 2011 and hotter than most summers I have experienced. Since April, I have been driving once a week from Fayetteville to Devil’s Den State Park where I volunteer. Today, I am placing new reservation cards at campsites. I drive to each campground and then walk to each site. The sounds of the woods and the laughter of campers soothe me. The warmth of walking relaxes my muscles.

Upon finishing this task, it is time to turn my attention to another. Next on my schedule as a volunteer is to present a mammal tracking program during swim break at the café pavilion. Park Interpreter Rebekah gave me a crash course in track identification. Along with my Master Naturalist training and some self-study, I am excited to share this new knowledge with campers. With the cool rubber molds of Devil’s Den mammals’ paws and feet, we make track identification cards. The visitors’ shrills of excitement as the ink paw prints are revealed on their paper makes this day more fun!

Devil’s Den State Park is a well loved and used park. Campers from Texas to Pennsylvania tell me it is one of the best parks they’ve visited. As a volunteer, I now see there are a ‘million’ large and little tasks that make that true. Marrying my late husband on Yellow Rock in 1979, Devil’s Den State Park has long been a sanctuary to me. Now from presenting programs to GPSing wild flowers to checking signs on trails, I not only find peace but purpose in the woods of Devil’s Den.”

Please consider experiencing the joy of volunteering for Devil’s Den State Park. For more information or comments, please contact Rebekah Spurlock at Rebekah.spurlock@arkansas.gov or 479-761-3325.

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