Jelsings recognized for volunteerism
The Organ Pipe National Monument in Arizona was a favorite camping destination for Wayne and Judy Jelsing of Rugby when they first retired.
It eventually became a second home of sorts.
For the past seven years, the couple have been Volunteers in Parks (VIPs) at the monument and recently were recognized for over 4,000 hours of service.
Wayne and Judy received certificates of nomination for the Take Pride in America Presidential and Secretarial awards through the National Park Service. They were honored earlier this spring at a banquet with other park staff.
Judy said park volunteers contribute thousands of hours each season, working a variety of jobs. As VIPs, the Jelsings spend their fall and winter at the park, preparing the grounds and campsites for visitors; giving tours of the park’s attractions to visitors; working at the park entrance; and simply being available to answer questions for campers. They work a handful of days each week.
Judy said after initially spending time at the Organ Pipe National Monument as guests and visiting with VIPs, she and Wayne thought about becoming volunteers themselves. They eventually sent in an application and were contacted by park staff. A few months later they were there, going through orientation and preparing for their first year.
They are part of an experienced group of VIPs, several with over 2,000 hours of experience. “It’s become our winter home,’ said Judy.
Over that period of time they have made many friendships with other VIPs and park staff as well as campers who come back each year.
The camp is open year-round, but the peak period is January and February.
The couple recently returned to Rugby, and Judy says it may be time to “retire” and let someone new fill the role.
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