California State Parks Foundation volunteer workdays would not be possible without our dedicated Core Leaders. Core Leaders are volunteers who have gone through additional training to lead volunteer workdays across the state. One of these committed Volunteer Core Leaders is Lisa LaFlame, a lover of the outdoors who has been an active volunteer with California State Parks Foundation since the program started in 2011.
Lisa’s love for California state parks is obvious through her commitment to protecting these wild places and advocating for Californians to connect with the outdoors. “State Parks are cathedrals and sanctuaries, places to reset and recharge. Having this resource is essential. Without State Parks, we lose our connection to Nature and a sense of our part in it, that we aren’t separate from it.”
When Lisa first saw the sign advertising an upcoming Earth Day event at Chino Hills State Park, she was inspired to get involved. “I lived on the southern boundary of the State Park and was interested in volunteering, especially after the devastating 2008 Freeway Complex Fire,” she said. There she learned about the new California State Parks Foundation volunteer program and signed up right away. From then on she got more involved by becoming a core leader, attending native plant workshops, and participating in Park Advocacy Day. “I see the volunteer program as vital to Californians becoming invested in their Parks system for generations to come. My statement that people need Parks & Parks need people comes out of that.”
Although Lisa loves all California state parks, Chino Hills State Park is her favorite. “it is in my community, and it is so essential as a biodiversity hotspot. I am frequently in it, walking its trails, and I feel a connection to it,” she said. Being a part of California State Parks Foundation’s volunteer program has helped her contribute to her community and help preserve a place that is so special to her. “On Earth Day 2021, one of the staff remarked that our 26 volunteers had done in three hours what would have taken him six months to complete. I know we are helping! We can see it with our own eyes, but we also hear about it from the Parks staff,” Lisa said.
To Lisa, volunteering in California state parks is about contributing to your community, helping to preserve wild places for future generations, and having a good time. “You get to meet new people, see new places, and get your hands dirty. At the end of a workday, you see your accomplishment and that your service has had an impact. Over time, you learn the seasons of a place, see the landscape changing, hear it and smell it, too. It becomes part of you and that improves your life,” she said.
Lisa works closely with two other core leaders at Chino Hills State Park to make each workday possible for volunteers. Each workday they volunteer their time to make sure the park and volunteers are having the best experience possible. “I am grateful to share in the enthusiasm [my fellow core leaders] bring to our workdays. We really try to give people a sense that their service is essential and greatly appreciated. I’m constantly impressed at the energy and wonderful, positive attitudes of our volunteers. To see so many regulars and to greet new volunteers makes me happy,” she said.
Throughout this difficult year, Core Leaders like Lisa have worked closely with California State Parks Foundation staff to make sure volunteers can get out to parks in safe, responsible ways. Lisa is eager to get back out into the parks in a regular capacity in the coming months. “I’m looking froward to resuming our workdays, in the wake of the pandemic. Especially after Chino Hills had yet another devastating wildfire in 2020, I see our volunteers as essential in helping it recover,” she said.