By Kristi Nolan
Special to The SUN
I hesitated for several years before volunteering with the Chimney Rock Interpretive Association (CRIA). Not having any knowledge of the history of the different cultures of people who previously lived there, or anything else pertaining to Chimney Rock, I felt I had nothing to contribute to the organization.
I decided to give it a try, and it was a very good decision. Although I have much to learn about “The Rock’s” past, I have been able to help in several small ways. First, volunteering in the visitor cabin as a cabin host (and anyone can do that) has been a wonderful opportunity for me. The visitor cabin is where visitors first come in to get information on tours, fees or to purchase items from the shop area. It is a great place to interact with the public. Meeting folks living close by or from other countries who have come to visit the site has been one of the most interesting aspects of working there. I learned something new about the area every day I volunteered at the cabin.
The Full Moon Program gave me another opportunity to volunteer by helping guests to the top of the trail and back down again at the end of the program, another thing anyone can do. Meanwhile, I benefited from learning the significance of the location of the moon from the speaker at the program and also enjoyed the beautiful view at sunset from the top.
Getting more information before making a commitment is very easy. Start at the Chimney Rock website: www.chimneyrockco.org. Along with a vast amount of information about the history of Chimney Rock and the many activities occurring there, the site has a section dedicated to volunteer opportunities. Volunteer positions are described in detail and a volunteer questionnaire form can be filled out online and submitted electronically to CRIA, the nonprofit that runs the interpretive program at Chimney Rock National Monument.
Also available on the website are notices of upcoming CRIA activities, including monthly lecture/social hours, which are open to the public. These gatherings feature presentations by various guest speakers who are noted experts in some area related to Chimney Rock, and are opportunities to learn more about the association and related volunteer opportunities.
To help community members learn about the exciting volunteer opportunities at Chimney Rock National Monument, CRIA will host an open house at the Ruby M. Sisson Memorial Library on March 22 from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. There will be a host of CRIA volunteers on hand who are eager to introduce guests to the variety of roles that support this unique program and the flexibility in level of commitment. Some of the volunteer positions include visitor cabin host, mesa host, tour guide and maintenance crew.
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 26 at the PLPOA Vista Clubhouse at 230 Port Ave.
For more information about the monument, calendar of events and volunteer opportunities, please stop by the Chimney Rock open house. We are very excited for the upcoming season starting May 15 and want to encourage the community to join us.
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.
By Kristi Nolan