In 2010 the Broward County Parks and Recreation Division launched its revamped volunteer initiative: the VIP Program, short for “Volunteers Improving Parks.” For many years the Division has depended heavily on its volunteers to augment and enhance park staff. And in these lean times, it just makes sense to use volunteers to extend our limited workforce through a more centralized and coordinated effort.
In a park system as large and diverse as Broward County’s, volunteer opportunities are virtually limitless, regardless of the volunteer’s background, experience, interests, and availability. We need volunteers for maintenance assistance and general cleanup – picking up litter, painting, weeding, minor planting, etc. We need volunteers who can contribute to security by keeping an eye out for potential vandalism and maintenance issues. We need volunteers who can answer phones and assist at park offices. In short, we need people with ideas, initiative, motivation, and an eagerness to chip in and help with whatever needs doing.
The VIP Program provides excellent opportunities not just for individuals but also for neighborhood organizations as well as businesses to become directly involved in maintaining and improving our parks, landscaped areas, greenways, and recreational facilities to help build community spirit and a sense of civic pride and responsibility. Park staff are always available to offer training, supervision, and any other resources necessary for both individuals and groups willing to contribute.
To increase community involvement with Broward County Parks by providing a variety of volunteer opportunities for individuals, corporations, and organizations in order to assist in the beautification, maintenance, and programming of the County’s park system.
Here’s How It Works
The first step is to find a project that’s in line with your talents and interests and the amount of time you’re willing to commit.
- Project Announcements - Find The Volunteer Experience For You!
- EcoAction Days Volunteers
- Natural Area Workdays
Volunteer Forms - Required for Participation
- Workday Application (PDF -104 KB) - for volunteers who want to volunteer for a specific one-day project or event only
- Volunteer Application (PDF -232 KB) Broward County Policies (PDF -3.6 MB)
- Tell Us About Your Volunteer Experience! (PDF -198KB)
The application can be filled out on your computer and then printed. The Broward County policies may be reviewed online or printed for your convenience. Bring completed application and photo identification to the park where you would like to volunteer. Volunteers must be at least 13 years of age (except at Tradewinds Stables, where volunteers must be at least 16 years of age), and volunteers under the age of 18 will need their parent/guardian's signature on these forms. For more information, contact the park of your choice or the Parks Volunteer Coordinator at 954-357-8153 or by email.
The Benefits of Volunteerism
Judging from the feedback we get from our volunteers, they get a great deal of satisfaction from a job well done. Here are a few examples of the things you can accomplish with only a few hours a week of volunteer service:
- Acquire skills and gain experience that can be applied in a variety of jobs and careers.
- Assist in organizing and staffing special events that help the community.
- Increase public awareness of the importance of South Florida’s remaining natural areas.
- Improve the environment by clearing natural areas of trash and invasive plants.
- Instill sportsmanship, leadership, and team building in young people.
- Meet the education system’s requirement for community service hours.
The Track Record for Volunteers at Broward County Parks
As one of Broward County’s largest agencies, the Parks and Recreation Division is especially dependent on the contributions of its volunteers. While up to 752 Parks employees may report to work on an average day, that workforce may be supplemented by as many as 200 volunteers, especially on weekends.
| Fiscal Year 2012
Friends Groups and Longtime Volunteers
Anne Kolb, Fern Forest, and Secret Woods nature centers and Tradewinds Park have long had their own volunteer friends groups. Additional friends groups that have been established over the past few years are:
- Florida Master Gardeners of Broward County
To learn more about each friends group, please visit our Friends Group Webpage.
There are also longtime volunteers at such specialized facilities as the Tradewinds Park Stables and Educational Farm, the Markham Park Target Range, Markham Park Airfield, and the mountain bike trails at Markham and Quiet Waters parks.
Thanks to Volunteer Groups!
JM Family Enterprises Inc.
Easterlin Eagle Scout Project
USDA Invasive Plant Research Laboratory
Pine Crest School
Dart Container Sales Co.
Anne Kolb Eagle Scout Project
Parks Mountain Bike Patrol
UnitedHealthcare at Miramar Pineland
Earth Day Waterway Cleanup at Deerfield Island Park
Brownie Troop at Hillsboro Pineland
Coral Springs High School at Tradewinds Park
Sai Baba Group at Miramar Pineland
Eagle Scouts at Plantation Heritage Park
Scheck Hillel Community School at Miramar Pineland
2013 Summer Recreation Volunteer Recognition
Summer Program VIPs (Volunteers Improving Parks) are an essential part of our Summer Recreation Program. The theme of this summer’s program was “Fun N Fit”. These tireless young men and women arrived every day to a different set of challenges and shared their time and talents to benefit staff and the children. Our VIPs assisted with arts and crafts, games, sports, field trips, clerical duties, and special events. They also assisted with the End of Summer Celebration (a fun day with races, water activities and entertainment) and The Broward Star Time Program, both of which are the highlight for many of the youth registered in our summer program.
This yearly program is not only beneficial to the Parks and Recreation Division; it's also an enriching one for our volunteers. The volunteers gained valuable knowledge of how to conduct themselves in a work environment. They also learned practical skills they can use daily at home and school, as well as for future employment and when applying for college.
Additionally, this year we had a group of volunteers who committed to teach drumming to the youth at Roosevelt Gardens Park. This program involved the VIPs not only teaching different beats, but also the fundamentals of drumming and how to read musical notes. Through these lessons the children also learned dedication and patience while having fun.
Fifty volunteers contributed 6,066 hours of service to the 2013 Summer Recreation Program and received certificates of appreciation for their invaluable assistance and support. We look forward to seeing Parks VIPs again next summer and working together to make next year’s Summer Recreation Program an even greater success!
Florida Master Gardener Volunteers
Individuals with disabilities requiring accommodations in order to participate in County programs, services, and activities must contact the Special Populations Section at 954-357-8170 or TTY 954-537-2844 at least ten (10) business days prior to the scheduled meeting or event to request an accommodation.