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VNMP’s volunteer program honored by the National Park Service

The National Park Service announced Tuesday the volunteer program at the Vicksburg National Military Park was awarded the 2019 George and Helen Hartzog Awards for Outstanding Volunteer Service.

The national award is given annually to the park with an outstanding volunteer program. The park’s growing volunteer program was recognized.

“The Hartzog Award is one of the most prestigious awards the National Park Service gives,” Superintendent Bill Justice said. “That’s because it is an award to the community that cares about and for the park and to the park staff who support those efforts.”

Among the park programs that were recognized were the efforts to clean headstones and place flags in the Vicksburg National Cemetery, the park’s volunteer living history program, the annual volunteer cleanup days on Park Day and National Public Lands Day, internships such as the Friends of Vicksburg National Military Park and Campaign’s Winter Residency Program, and the Junior Ranger Camps.

All those activities, Justice said, contribute to the park and in some ways contribute to the preservation of the park and its care.

“Volunteerism throughout the national parks system is just amazing; the things the volunteers accomplish at different parks is astounding. Without those volunteers, there’s a lot we couldn’t accomplish,” he said.

“Our work with the park over the last several years to grow the volunteer program has been enormously successful,” said Bess Averett, Executive Director, Friends of Vicksburg National Military Park and Campaign. “We feel great pride in that achievement. To have that work and those staff and volunteers recognized with this prestigious national award is amazing.  It is so well deserved. We look forward to working with the park to build an even stronger program.”

The volunteers who make all this possible are individuals, Boy Scouts, members of service clubs, Master Gardeners, soldiers and employees of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center; and Americorps volunteers who do organized projects and earn service hours in the park. Even some of the volunteer coordinators are volunteers themselves.

More about the 2019 Hartzog awards is available at https://www.nps.gov/articles/000/2019-hartzog-awards.htm.