The Highlands Nature Sanctuary and Fort Hill are looking for volunteers from the local community to host the Interpretive Museums located at both sites.
A special Volunteer Training Day will be held on Sunday, April 3 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., with lunch provided. The event is open to anyone interested in becoming more involved at the sites, either by working as a Museum Host or in another volunteer capacity, such as trail maintenance or land stewardship.
Museum Hosts usually work three or more weekends during the April through October season, covering shifts that range from 5 – 7 hours a day. Volunteer Hosts welcome the general public, help orient them to the parks’ hiking trails, and interpret the outstanding geological features of the Rocky Fork and Baker’s Fork.
Visitor services coordinator Kayla Hanning says, “We have volunteers coming from all over southern Ohio, including Highland County, but we put a special value on attracting those from our local community. This is especially gratifying, since so many local people aren’t aware they have access to these beautiful gems, right in their own backyards.”
The Highlands Nature Sanctuary is the largest of 15 preserves in the Arc of Appalachia Preserve System, a non-profit, grass-roots organization founded in 1995 whose operations are completely supported by private donations.
The Sanctuary Museum and its three trails are open free to the public every weekend from April through October, 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. The Arc manages Fort Hill and Serpent Mound in partnership with its owners, The Ohio History Connection. Fort Hill features 11 miles of hiking trails open year round and an Interpretive Museum that is open April through October on Saturdays from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.
According to Nancy Stranahan, Director the Arc of Appalachia is planning to open all its trails at the Highlands Nature Sanctuary to the public over the next three years. The organization is currently pursuing grants to help fund the estimated $50,000-$70,000 needed to build public-worthy bridges, safety railings, and parking lots.
According to Stranahan, “We’ve come a long way in 20 years. Each year for the foreseeable future we will be opening at least two new preserves to the general public for recreational hiking.”
The Arc will be hosting two grand openings in 2016: Chalet Nivale Preserve in Adams County, and Junction Earthworks in Ross County. Citizens wishing to access the Sanctuary’s backcountry loop trails immediately can become members by making a gift of $35 or more a year. As a thank you, donors will receive a Wilderness Hiking Pass to the Sanctuary’s 16 miles of trails, and free parking at Serpent Mound.
If you are interested in becoming a Museum Host, or would like to learn more about volunteer opportunities, register for the Training Day by visiting www.arcofappalachia.org/museum-host-day/ for more information and registration. For any questions, call 937-365-1935 or email [email protected]
Article submitted by Kayla Hanning, visitor services coordinator at the Highlands Nature Sanctuary.