Membership table volunteers “put a face on Friends of Acadia.”
March 12th, 2023
March 12th, 2023
Friends of Acadia has staffed a membership information table in Acadia near Jordan Pond House since 2007. Membership table volunteers “put a face on Friends of Acadia.”
While a brochure is an efficient way to highlight all the ways Friends of Acadia helps to protect Acadia National Park, an in-person conversation with a volunteer who treasures the park and understands our work goes a whole lot farther.
Georgia Munsell first fell in love with Acadia more than 20 years ago during a visit to the park with her husband. It was during that visit she learned about Friends of Acadia, and immediately became a member.
“I care so much about Acadia – its awesome beauty, the well-maintained trails and carriage roads,” said Munsell. “And who is doing the most to protect and preserve this park? Friends of Acadia.”
So when the idea of a membership table was first brought forth as a way to solicit new members, encourage volunteerism, and raise awareness of all the work Friends of Acadia does, Munsell was the first person to sign up as a volunteer. She remains one of Friends of Acadia’s longest-serving volunteers.
“Georgia is an amazing force, and we’re so lucky to have her,” said Development Officer Lee McWilliams. “Throughout the years, she’s also helped train and mentor new volunteers at the membership table, passing on her expertise and showing volunteers the ropes. She’s a great ambassador for the park and Friends of Acadia.”
During weekdays from June to September, volunteers staff a table at Jordan Pond House, helping spread the word about Friends of Acadia. They engage with a lot of visitors in the park, starting conversations with the multitude of hikers and cyclists and folks stepping off an Island Explorer bus to explore or enjoy a popover at Jordan Pond House.
“This is not an opportunity to sit behind the table and give park information,” said Munsell. “Rather it is standing and approaching visitors to engage them and tell them about Friends of Acadia and asking them to join.”
Volunteers speak with visitors from around the country and the world, which requires an admirable blend of gregariousness and knowledge about Friends of Acadia and the park.
“Since not everyone says ‘yes,’ you need to be able to take rejection. However, it’s a very rewarding opportunity to meet visitors and entice them to join.”
Volunteers sign up an average of 500 new members during the season when the membership table is in full swing.
Shifts are two-and-a-half hours, with a single shift on Monday and Tuesday and two shifts (morning and afternoon) Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. “There are always two volunteers,” said Munsell. “ We try to pair new volunteers with those with experience.”
Throughout her years as a volunteer, Munsell has had many memorable interactions with park visitors.
“Every time I volunteer, which is usually twice a week, I always have tales from the table,” she said. “One day, I approached a woman to see if I could tell her about Friends of Acadia. ‘Only if you make it quick because I don’t have much time,’ she said. I had only finished my second sentence: ‘Our mission is to protect and preserve this beautiful park,’ when the woman interrupted and said, ‘okay, I’ll join!’ I joked with her that I didn’t even get to finish my appeal.”
Another time, she approached a couple who’d just been bike riding in the park. They were interested in joining, but said they didn’t have any money on them.
“Later they appeared with a $50 bill and said they were saving it to have popovers, but they’d decided that joining Friends of Acadia was more important,” said Munsell. “So, on this day, Friends of Acadia won out over Jordan Pond House popovers.”
That just goes to show how personal contact, particularly while visitors are enjoying all Acadia has to offer, gives park visitors a chance to learn more about Friends of Acadia and to get involved as a member or volunteer.
Interested in becoming a Membership Table volunteer this season? We always welcome new volunteers, and training is provided.
To learn more or sign up as a volunteer, reach out to Friends of Acadia Development Officer Lee McWilliams at firstname.lastname@example.org or 207-370-2912.