By Susan Yalom
Special to The SUN
I am a volunteer for Chimney Rock Interpretive Association (CRIA) and one of the best parts about volunteering is the variety of activities a volunteer can do.
As a retired teacher, I enjoy working with children at the monument. So I serve, with other very dedicated volunteers, on the Education Committee. This committee develops interpretive materials and activities to enhance the experience for all ages when visiting Chimney Rock. Our committee has developed a quarter-mile nature walk around the picnic area. We have worked with the Forest Service staff to produce display banners about early Native American life here. Members of the Education Committee also developed the Junior Archaeologist workbook and badges that are available to young visitors during the summer.
But probably the most important, and rewarding, service we provide is School Week at Chimney Rock. This event runs before the monument opens and is dedicated to welcoming class field trips from our area. This season, School Week is May 4-7 and May 11-13.
These seven days allow classes to come without interfering with the public activities when the site opens on May 15. The CRIA office staff handles reservations from teachers and arranges the schedule. There are also volunteers available to visit classes and provide pre-trip information.
We can accommodate as many as 90 students each day. They receive tours of the site and have opportunities to try activities such as throwing the atlatl, rock art, weaving, tree-ring dating and others. Last season, 20 classes came, totaling 550 students. We had elementary and middle school groups from Pagosa Springs, Durango, Monte Vista, also charter and home-school groups. There is no charge for an educational group; CRIA provides funding for needed materials.
School Week at Chimney Rock is successful because of the volunteers who help. Last season, we had 23 volunteers, some coming every day, some coming once or twice as their schedule allowed. It doesn’t require any special training to help, so new volunteers are welcome to come. Anyone who has some time and likes to work with children can participate.
This is just one of a variety of ways to volunteer at the Chimney Rock National Monument.
Please come to the open house at the Ruby M. Sisson Memorial Library on Feb. 20 from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. to find out more about opportunities for volunteering at Chimney Rock National Monument. There are many different volunteer positions that CRIA must fill for the season, including mesa hosts, cabin hosts, maintenance team volunteers and tour guides. Stop by and enjoy desserts and talk with our enthusiastic volunteer team.
CRIA offers a great, in-depth training program in a fun environment to anyone interested in joining our amazing team of volunteers. This year, volunteer training will take place on April 24 and 25 at Chimney Rock National Monument and the Pagosa Springs Arts Council Event Center at 197 Navajo Trail Drive.
CRIA is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that runs the daily operations and interpretive program at Chimney Rock National monument in partnership with the USDA Forest Service and the San Juan National Forest. For more information. see the CRIA website at www.chimneyrockco.org or call 731-7133.