Would you like to join our team of 250 dedicated people?
“Our volunteers are the heart and soul of Empire Mine State Historic Park.”
Empire Mine Ranger, Greg Sherr
It’s true. Our volunteers bring history to life. They make visitors feel welcome, and they make Empire Mine an irresistible destination – as well as a memorable experience. They are ambassadors, historians and stewards.
Although our volunteers share their time and talents in many varied ways, they also share one passion – and that is to support Empire Mine State Historic Park wholeheartedly. They work under the Department of Parks and Recreation’s Volunteer in Parks program (VIP, for short).
As a VIP, you can choose from three categories:
- Facilities (including grounds, gardens and trails)
Let’s tell you more about each category.
Interpretation volunteers are our ambassadors.
They work closely with the public. Many are Tour Guides, leading visitors through the gardens and the grounds, Empire Cottage, the Clubhouse and the Mineyard. Their commentaries are both factual and fascinating, and they have many vintage photos to share. They can turn a walk into an eye-opening adventure that’s historic as well as highly entertaining.
Other interpretive volunteers are part of the Living History Programs at the Empire Cottage, the Clubhouse, and in the Mineyard. Dressed in period attire, our Living History volunteers portray characters who changed our local history. Mine owners Mr. and Mrs. William Bowers Bourn, Jr., for example, make scheduled appearances at the Empire Cottage. Often visitors get to meet mine superintendent George Starr and his wife, Libby. Popular housekeeper, Katie Moriarty may be there as well – to greet you and to chat about her state-of-the-art 1905 kitchen. The Blacksmith Shop is also a favorite destination. Located in the Mineyard, its volunteer smithies are always working, but never too busy to share entertaining tales of the “good, old days” at Empire. Some Tour Guides escort school tours and enjoy the challenge of making history fun for children.
The Gift Shop is another place to find our volunteers in action, as they greet visitors, provide information and help people purchase from a unique selection of merchandise.
Pasty luncheons for groups may be scheduled, and served near the Clubhouse. Volunteers, dressed in costumes, serve the lunches, adding to its historic feel.
Administration volunteers are our historians.
Some volunteers have a flair for Oral History. They record and transcribe interviews with people who had previous links with the mine, perhaps as miners or gardeners – or those involved in establishing Empire Mine as a State Historic Park. Their stories can be rich in historic details worth saving for posterity.
Research is another intriguing option. Investigating a variety of historic resources and then recording and filing them on computer disks creates valuable reference material. Adding new books to our reference library is another way to help. Volunteers with desktop publishing skills enjoy creating, updating and publishing various books and pamphlets about Empire Mine’s past and its future.
Facilities, Grounds & Trails volunteers are our stewards.
One of our volunteer groups is called the Over-the-Hill-Gang; they share their skills and assist with the maintenance and repair of the Park’s buildings and facilities.
The Rose Garden Group keeps the rose gardens (one of the Park’s main attractions) beautiful. They also propagate plants that are sold in the Gift Shop.
Trail volunteers walk the Park’s 800+ acres of scenic trails, giving out valuable information to visitors as well as relaying information to Park staff on trail and visitor issues.
Our Security Team offers assistance with tour and special event security.
So, do you see yourself as an ambassador, an historian, or as a steward?
You’ll be pleased to know that all volunteers are given both general training – as well as more specific training in their chosen categories. Each March, new volunteers attend and enjoy two days of Park training. You’ll learn about the Park’s unique history. You’ll learn about the people who shaped its prosperity – as well as the hardrock mining techniques used to extract its precious gold. You’ll learn about the Park today – and why it attracts over 50,000 visitors each year – many from all over the world.
There’s genuine camaraderie, and many lasting friendships are formed. Volunteers who contribute over 50 hours in a year receive special passes to the Sierra District Parks – as well as gratitude from their fellow volunteers and Park staff.
For more information about the Volunteer in Parks program – and the role you might like to play – phone (530) 273-8522 and ask to speak with the Unit Ranger. You’re also welcome to stop by the Visitors Center reception desk.
Thanks for your interest!