About 30 years ago, my wife, Jenny, and I began traveling to Mesquite a couple times a year to visit my parents, who had relocated here from up north. We wouldn’t stay long, and we really didn’t do much. We might grab a meal at one of the casinos, or maybe drive to St. George to shop. We might take a quick trip into Las Vegas to see the sights. If we were really lucky, we might even venture over to Valley of Fire State Park to enjoy some stunning scenery. We didn’t have time to do much else. And, inevitably, jobs and other obligations tugged us back home.
So when we moved here in 2018, we were more than a bit surprised to learn that the place we thought we knew had so much more to offer. Although we were aware that some people liked to come here to golf, we didn’t realize that this place also attracted outdoor enthusiasts like us. And, after a while, we discovered that one of their premiere recreating destinations was just a short drive away – to the then newly-minted Gold Butte National Monument.
After hearing about the Friends of Gold Butte, we decided to check them out. We dropped by the FoGB Visitors’ Center, bought a map, and signed up for one of the hikes the group organized. As lifelong “non-joiners,” we figured we’d go on the hike with the FoGB so that we could check out GBNM, then do our own thing – alone – whenever we wanted.
But then something unexpected happened. We not only enjoyed the hike (gorgeous views, abundant flora and fauna, and prehistoric rock art – what’s not to like?) but we also really enjoyed the people on the hike. We found our fellow travelers to be friendly, diverse, interesting, and passionate about the protection and preservation of public lands.
After attending a few more FoGB events (monthly speaker series, trash cleanups, scenic byway driving tours, more hikes, campouts, etc.), we were approached about helping out on some FoGB projects. Our initial response – “Who, me?” – was soon replaced with a reluctant “Well, okay.” Since then, our involvement with FoGB has grown along with our enthusiasm for the group’s mission – stewardship, preservation, education, and advocacy for GBNM. Now, when the pressure of other obligations (family, travel, summer northern migration, etc.) allows, we volunteer with the FoGB doing things we enjoy.
If any of this sounds familiar to you, please consider volunteering some of your time with the FoGB. We always welcome whatever help comes our way. If you’re unsure what you can do to help, please keep reading for brief descriptions of some of the volunteer opportunities available right now. At the very end, you’ll find contact information if you decide to reach out to learn more. Happy volunteering!
FoGB Visitors’ Center – We try hard to maintain regular hours at our location at 12 W. Mesquite Blvd Suite 106. But, because of limited staff and not enough volunteers, we don’t always get the job done. Volunteer duties primarily involve giving information about GBNM to visitors who stop by. You may occasionally sell a map or T-shirt to someone (we’ll teach you how to do this). That’s about it.
Mesquite Welcome Center – In collaboration with the City of Mesquite and some other local organizations, the FoGB staffs the MWC at 460 N. Sandhill Blvd on Mondays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Volunteer duties include unlocking the doors to the public restrooms (no cleaning or other maintenance is involved), distributing maps and other information, and answering visitor’s questions about Mesquite and the surrounding area. The City has volunteers complete a simple vetting process (a brief questionnaire, fingerprinting, etc.) that sounds worse than it is. Ideally, we’d like to have enough volunteers so that each one might expect a shift every 2-3 months.
Stewardship Projects in GBNM – In collaboration with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the FoGB recruits and organizes volunteers to assist with various stewardship projects throughout the year. Volunteer duties vary, but past projects have included road repair, weed eradication, planting native flora, vehicle incursion mitigation, post installation to delineate parking lots and campsites, sign installation, and trail designation, to name just a few.
Trash Cleanups – We try to schedule one of these every month or so (except in the summer, when it’s too hot). Volunteer duties include walking about one mile along a road in GBNM and picking up trash along the way. We will show you where to go, and describe what you should and should not pick up. We’ll provide buckets and trash bags (you’ll want to wear appropriate clothing and bring your own gloves). Afterwards, we usually gather and share some refreshments. Having fun is both allowed and encouraged.
Hike Guides – If you like your boots on the ground in GBNM, please consider becoming a volunteer hike guide. Volunteer duties include giving a pre-hike safety briefing, guiding small groups of hikers on a designated, predetermined hiking route, and reporting back to the FoGB executive director when everyone returns safe and sound.
Grant Writing – If you have experience applying for grants, we could use your help in securing operational and special project funding for FoGB activities and projects. Volunteer duties include researching appropriate grants and writing and submitting grant proposals in consultation with the FoGB executive director and board of directors.
Table Staffing at Special Events – From time to time, the FoGB has the opportunity to place a table at community and regional events in the area (for example, Mesquite Days, the Wild and Scenic Film Festival, our FoGB Speaker Series, etc.). Volunteer duties include setting up an information table, distributing informational materials to passersby, and selling FoGB merchandise.
The above descriptions reflect only a sampling of volunteer opportunities available. There are many more. If you would like to volunteer, or simply want more information about what you’ve seen here or for other opportunities to help the FoGB, please contact the FoGB executive director, Brenda Slocumb, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for reading, and happy volunteering!