Volunteerism plays a large role in the mission of the Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Foundation. According to the State of the World Volunteerism Report, “Volunteerism is one of the most basic of expressions of human behavior and arises out of long-established ancient traditions of sharing and reciprocal exchanges. At its core are relationships and their potential to enhance the well-being of individuals and communities. Social cohesion and trust, for example, thrive where volunteerism is prevalent.”

Indeed, many of our conservation advancements can be traced back to grassroots volunteer efforts (see Penn’s Stewards Summer 2015 on the history of conservation activism). Every day we celebrate our state park and forest volunteers—be they part of a friends group, a Steward of Penn’s Woods participant, or a conservation volunteer. Their tireless efforts not only build a community of volunteers across the state, they improve your state park and forest experience. And volunteerism doesn’t only benefit the receiving organization… it benefits the volunteer, as well.

From making new friends to learning new skills, from getting a good green workout to releasing happy hormones, volunteerism is good for you. My grandfather and mom set an example early in my life about the importance of being engaged—and I’ve been volunteering since I was a child—running errands for neighbors, as a Girl Scout, through school. My commitment to volunteerism—and the good it does— only expands as I see all of the good things volunteers are able to accomplish. My hat goes off to all volunteers for their commitment to their causes. You make a difference.

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