Government Grants

Government grants help fund some truly amazing programs. Some fund cancer research, vaccinations to underprivileged children, environmental conservation, and educational TV programs.

But some government grants seem to fund programs that are fun, too.

Take for example the hiking and camping enthusiasts who chartered an organization that uses government grants to spruce up national parks. This small group of outdoorsmen and women has grown over time to include hundreds of members who work in parks across the country.

They started organizing in the 1990s when budget cuts to national parks meant less money for routine maintenance and hiring freezes for more park rangers. The need for the work was there but the money wasn’t.

After some research, the group discovered that the National Park Service would issue government grants to fund small-scale, temporary work projects even though it couldn’t afford full-time permanent personnel to do the work on an on-going basis.

The group contacted the park personnel of their favorite places to find out what work needed to be done, work that they themselves would be qualified to do, and then they applied for government grants using these specific missions as the focus of the grant application.

It worked. They were soon approved for government grants that took them to national parks in Colorado, Texas, and Utah. They did an awful lot of hard work but they had barrels of fun. And instead of leaving the park merely happy and exhausted from yet another adventure in the wilderness, they left with a sense of accomplishment, as if they’d done something that really mattered.

Their sense of accomplishment became contagious and new members quickly joined the organization. More government grants were secured. More parks serviced.

The government grants this group secured led to better signage along trail ways, reforestation of areas of wilderness that had become depleted due to public traffic, building retaining walls along trail ways – or tearing them down, as need be – to improve access, restoration of wildlife habitat, all kinds of things. Each park is unique and requires a different set of maintenance procedures.

It’s hard, dirty work done under the watchful eye of the park rangers who are grateful for the volunteers and the government grants that fund the projects. But the rangers have almost as much fun as the volunteers do.