Volunteer Campground Hosts Recognized For Their Service

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Volunteer Campground Hosts Recognized For Their Service BRIGHTON – The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) said “thank you” to a group of important volunteers at a celebration event last week. The sixth annual Campground Host Appreciation Event took place at Lake Darling State Park Sept. 9.

Roughly one-third of Iowa’s 110 campground hosts attended the celebration that honored them for the invaluable services they provide to Iowa’s state parks. DNR park staff, along with Natural Resource Commissioner Janelle Rettig, were also in attendance to recognize these outstanding volunteers.

“I used to think I had missed the great moments in U.S. history of volunteerism,” noted Jeff Hildebrand, Lake Darling Park Ranger, “but then I work with folks like you I know that I haven’t missed a thing. You are the answer to our state parks’ prayers.”

Campground hosts offer assistance as greeters, informational aides and maintenance support at state parks. Hosts live and work on campgrounds during the busy summer camping seasons, most of them volunteering hundreds of hours each summer.

“For me it’s all about loving Iowa’s state parks and wanting to take care of them,” said Mike Orgazan, who hosts at Lacey-Keosauqua with his wife Regina. “It’s really rewarding to help visitors have an enjoyable experience and gain a new appreciation for their parks.”

The appreciation celebration kicked off Sept. 8, with free camping, a potluck dinner at the park’s new four-season lodge and live music provided by Ed Bruegge and Friends of Fairfield. The following day DNR officials treated hosts to a catered lunch, certificates of appreciation and a presentation on Iowa’s Peregrine Falcons by Kay Neumann of Saving our Avian Resources (SOAR). Volunteers also were given the opportunity to assist in the release of a rehabilitated great horned owl.

Last year, volunteers across Iowa donated more than 230,000 hours of service to the DNR. Parks volunteers – including campground hosts – account for about 40-percent of that.

For more information, contact Merry Rankin at (515) 281-0878 or at Merry [dot] Rankin [at] dnr [dot] iowa [dot] gov.