VIP 50 – Ideas to Help You Celebrate

Volunteers in Parks 50th Anniversary Logo - includes NPS Arrowhead and text "Volunteer, 50 Years, 1970 - 2020"

The Volunteer In Parks program turns 50 years old in 2020!

When the Volunteer In Parks (VIP) Act was passed by Congress on July 29, 1970, it allowed parks to use “volunteers for or in aid of interpretive functions, or other visitor services or activities.” Since that moment, it has evolved into a vibrant network of talented volunteers across the nation who love contributing to parks’ missions. The program allows volunteers to lend talents, skills, or even learn new ones in partnerships beneficial to both the volunteer and parks.

The VIP program started with a few hundred people and has grown in its fifty years to include hundreds of thousands of volunteers across the nation. The National Park Service Director, George B. Hartzog Jr, who championed for the legislation, said “when a VIP agrees to share his talents, skills and interests with the National Park Service, he is paying us one of the highest compliments possible by offering a most valued possession—his time.”

Imagining Ways to Celebrate

As we enter this anniversary year for the NPS Volunteers-in-Parks program, there are many ways to incorporate messaging about the anniversary into the volunteer-based events you already have planned! It’s a wonderful time to focus on storytelling and the recognition of volunteers. Storytelling should highlight the ‘win-win’ of volunteering (i.e., the benefits to the volunteer and the benefits to NPS). Do what’s right for you at your site as you incorporate this anniversary into your already-planned events, your messaging, and any new events you may put together!

Other Ways to Get Involved 

  • Host a fun volunteer appreciation event or activity at your park!
  • Host a volunteer fair at your park!
  • Come up with a creative way to share information on volunteer programs at your park like a quiz or spin the wheel.
  • Start a thank a volunteer social media campaign.
  • Share Why I Volunteer photos on social media.
  • Post Then/Now Photos if possible and reflect on VIP service.
  • Spread the word about your event! Add your volunteer event to the park event pages or the NPS Anniversaries Landing Page.
  • Share stories about your volunteers and their work on your park or program’s social media accounts. Tag #NPSVolunteer and #VIP50 in your posts.
  • Share a story about how volunteers work year-round to preserve, protect, and interpret our cultural and natural resources.
  • Plan an indoor environment-theme event such as a film screening, ranger talk, visit to nature center, etc.
  • Plan a discussion, panel, or roundtable with your community organization about connecting your cultural values to conservation.

Resources to Help You Celebrate

Volunteer Patch 50th Logo Volunteer Patch 50th Logo Volunteer Patch 50th Logo


You can find the full resource toolkit on the NPS’ Sharepoint site (network login required).

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