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Willow River State Park receives rare opportunity

Thanks to an AmeriCorps Volunteer grant, the Friends of Willow River and Kinnickinnic State Parks, Inc. is offering a full time paid position designed to expand volunteer participation in park activities. The search is on for the right person. Could it be you? Someone you know?

Increasing visitor numbers at the popular Wisconsin state parks — more than 8,000 have participated in programs or visited the nature center in the last six months — show a need for more activities. Willow River Park Superintendent Aaron Mason said total park attendance for the first six months of the year totals about 295,000 visitors. Last year saw 930,000 visitors and the park is very close to last year's numbers.

The new volunteer recruiter and coordinator will work with avid park users and newcomers to increase volunteer involvement at Willow River and Kinnickinnic State Parks.

The Friends group, who obtained the AmeriCorps Volunteer program grant, have found that frequent park visitors want to support the park they love and enjoy. Our current lineup of support workers includes those assisting with trail maintenance, invasive species management, nature center staffing, field trip assistance, grooming of ski trails, and special event staffing.

Visitors come to these beautiful state parks to hike, run, ski, snowshoe, fish, observe nature, picnic with friends, camp, take classes and attend presentations. Popular classes include yoga, kayaking, snowshoeing and art in the park. With more volunteers on board to assist, existing programs will be expanded and new ones developed.

In addition to the volunteer development mission, the new employee will be involved in the park's day-to-day operations.

A full-time worker in the AmeriCorps Volunteer program receives a biweekly living expense payment of $486. Health insurance is provided and childcare support is available. After concluding the full-year assignment, the worker will have earned an education award of $5,815. This money can be applied to future education expenses or to existing student loans. To qualify for this position, a candidate must be at least 19-years-old, have a high school diploma or equivalent, be a citizen or otherwise cleared to work in the U.S., and pass a background check. This position provides a great opportunity, the chance to learn, grow and contribute to the parks.

For information and to apply, go to willowkinnifriends.org, click on AmeriCorps Application and then click to download the Instructions and the Application. You can also contact

rthofern@willowkinnifriends.org or naturalist@willowkinnifriends.org.

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