All of the tours, field trips, programs, and festivals offered at Jones Park are free of charge. This is possible through community support and volunteers. To help expand and continue the level of free programming at Jones Park, experts, professionals, and teachers who specialize in natural science, conservation, and Texas history-related fields are invited to assist with or present lectures, tours, and workshops.
From behind-the-scenes assistance to tour guides, demonstrators, and historians at festivals, volunteers are utilized in almost every imaginable aspect of the park’s operations. Smaller groups interested in becoming involved at the park are encouraged to volunteer together.
Another important factor that allows Jones Park to offer free programming is monetary sponsorships through the Jesse Jones Park Volunteers (JJPV). Sponsors can support the park by funding theatrical, musical, and stage performances, contest awards and give-aways for the Volunteer Appreciation Party, Fishing Derby, Photo Contest, Tricks and Treats Among the Trees, and An Old-Fashioned Christmas.
Businesses, groups, and organizations that are interested in making visible, in-kind contributions can participate in the Adopt-A-Trail program, or other conservation projects.
Consider supporting Jesse H. Jones Park & Nature Center by volunteering!
Remove invasive, non-native plants and conduct routine trail maintenance. This is a great conservation project for groups of all sizes and types. Requires a minimum one-year commitment of 4-hour work sessions every three months.
A large number of volunteers are utilized in a variety of ways such as assisting with concessions, crafts, demonstrations, and traffic control to successfully host:
Arbor Day (January)
Homestead Heritage Day (February)
Tricks & Treats Among the Trees (October)
Pioneer Day (November)
An Old-Fashioned Christmas (December).
Arts and Crafts Projects
Assist with craft preparations for children’s programs. Decorate for festivals. Create period-correct items offered for sale by the JJPV during Jones Park events. (Proceeds from sales benefit the park.) Can be performed in the Nature Center conference room or at home at your convenience.
Building Maintenance / Construction
Assist in the development and maintenance of park facilities, including the Redbud Hill Homestead and Akokisa Indian Village. Construction experience and handyman skills are a plus for maintaining pioneer structures.
Sew, mend, launder, and inventory period-correct garments used in re-enactments and stored in the costume closet. Research historical dress and accessories.
Work with concessions or indoor kitchen meal preparation at park festivals. Demonstrate cast iron outdoor cooking staged during homestead events.
Solicit donations from area businesses for park and volunteer programs. Research and write grant applications to support park projects.
Homestead Tour Guide
Lead school-aged children, scouts, and other groups on interpretive tours of the Redbud Hill Homestead and the Akokisa Indian Village. Homestead Tour Guides are needed Tuesday and Thursday mornings during the school year.
Assist with the care of landscaped grounds, homestead garden, and greenhouse by replanting areas of the park with native vegetation, seeding wildflowers, potting plants, watering, pruning, and weeding. Horticultural Aides are invited to participate in Conservation Connections every Wednesday at 8:30 a.m.
Jr. Canoe Training
Assist staff with teaching 10-15-year-olds water safety and canoeing skills. This program is a one-day commitment and is held periodically during the spring and summer months.
Living History Demonstrator
Demonstrate everyday life in an 1830s east Texas homestead or Akokisa Indian Village while wearing period-correct clothing (available in the costume closet) and using authentic tools. Volunteers demonstrate activities such as: archery, blacksmithing, cooking, gardening, hide tanning, woodworking, spinning, and weaving. Living History Demonstrators are needed for Second Saturday Settlers (SSS), Homestead Heritage Day, and Pioneer Day. No prior experience is necessary; just an interest in the life of Texas inhabitants in the 1830s. Training will be provided.
Nature Tour Guide
Lead school-aged children, scouts, or other groups on a one-half- to one-mile interpretive walk on the park’s nature trails. Point out interesting natural features such as the cypress ponds, native plants, birds, and animal signs. Nature Tour Guides are needed Tuesday and Thursday mornings during the school year.
Greet Nature Center visitors while providing them with park information, maps, and program schedules. Answer the phone and assist staff with craft preparation and record keeping. Office aides are needed primarily on weekends.
Represent Jones Park at environmental, educational, and community fairs. Set up displays, distribute park information, answer questions, and help extend the reach of park staff. Outreach events are primarily on weekends.
Summer Nature Camp Counselor
Provide a friendly, helpful presence while the children to learn about nature. Supervise a group of 6-7 children (ages 5-6, 7-9, or 10-12 years old). Participate, help, and encourage the campers in activities, games, and crafts presented by the park ranger. Counselors are needed from June to the first week of August. Each camp is a one-week commitment.
Volunteer Frequently Asked Questions
How do you become a Jones Park volunteer? What steps are involved?
Those who want to volunteer at Jones Park express their interest to us in many ways – in person, online via the park’s website or other volunteer recruitment websites, or through the many service organizations that support the park. To make it quick and easy to join our volunteer program, the Jesse Jones Park Volunteers (JJPV), we have streamlined our application process to just a few simple steps.
The first step is to complete the online application found on the park’s website. This only takes a few minutes. We use information from the application to determine the next step in the application process, as well as to gain an understanding of which volunteer activities the applicant might be interested in pursuing.
Since our volunteers often work with children, we require adult applicants and the parents/guardians of youth applicants to complete a background screening. This is the second step in the application process. The park covers the cost of the screening, and results are usually back within about a week.
For those under 18, we require a parental consent form. Applicants under 16 must be accompanied by an adult while volunteering at the park. Many families appreciate volunteering together and have come to enjoy the many benefits.
In addition to our need for regular JJPV members, we also have volunteer opportunities for individuals seeking to earn service hours. This includes those needing to complete hours for one of our partner service organizations, such as National Honor Society, National Charity League, and Scouts BSA, or for corporate groups that want to perform a day of service at the park. Anyone who wants to volunteer as a group should have their group leader contact the park to coordinate a service date.
For those interested in getting to know our volunteers and learning about the JJPV, please attend our monthly volunteer program and meeting. Meetings are held on the last Monday of each month at 7 p.m. (except for July, August, and December, or if the date falls on a holiday), and include refreshments and a guest presenter. For more information, please visit the volunteer section of the Jones Park website or sign up to receive our quarterly volunteer newsletter, Cypress Log.
What should people consider before becoming a Jones Park volunteer?
Some things to consider before becoming a volunteer at Jones Park:
- What is your term commitment? Are you interested in volunteering on a regular basis, or are you looking for a one-time volunteer opportunity?
- Which volunteer activities at the park relate to your knowledge, skills, and abilities? Are you open to trying out new activities, and are there any tasks that you are not able or willing to do?
- When are you available to volunteer? Can you volunteer during the week, on weekends, or on school breaks?
- Most importantly, why do you want to volunteer at Jones Park? Are you passionate about the park’s mission, wanting to develop professional skills, or are you needing hours for your service organization?
What can volunteers expect on their first day?
Depending on the activities in which volunteers choose to participate, the first day can be quite different. If you are helping at one of our events, you may receive a short training from a staff member or experienced volunteer before jumping into action at your assigned station. On the other hand, if your first day is helping with one of our habitat management programs, you will receive a more in-depth training on the park’s ecosystems and the proper techniques to safely carry out the project.
A few of our programs require a little more up-front training or prior knowledge and experience. Some of these include our nature tours, pioneer homestead tours, and living history demonstrations. For these, a new volunteer will typically shadow a staff or experienced volunteer for the first couple of programs. They will then be paired with a mentor for support until they become independent.
What volunteer opportunities are available?
At Jones Park, we have weekday and weekend volunteer opportunities that appeal to individuals with diverse interests. Do you prefer the great outdoors or would you rather work inside? Are you a people person or do you enjoy solo activities? We have a position for everyone. This includes habitat management, environmental education, Texas pioneer history programs, and assisting with our exciting events throughout the year.
Who trains volunteers?
Volunteers are generally trained by Jones Park staff, but they may also receive training from experienced volunteers. Some volunteer jobs, such as stations at our annual events, require only a few minutes of training that can easily be done by any staff member or volunteer. Other roles, such as our nature and pioneer tour guides, require much more training. For these, we may pair a new volunteer with a staff member or experienced volunteer during their training.
Can volunteers choose their positions?
Our application asks volunteers to tell us a little about their skills and interests, and it includes a list of possible jobs that they can select. While some individuals have very specific interests, most tend to have broader interests and are open to different possibilities. Our goal is to find positions with which volunteers are comfortable and can enjoy, whether it involves sticking to their inherent interests or introducing them to new opportunities.
Some volunteer positions may be more popular than others. Which volunteer positions need more volunteers?
We always have a need for additional volunteers for all our positions, but we have an exceptional need for volunteers to serve as Nature Tour Guides and Homestead Tour Guides. At Jones Park, we offer free guided educational tours to children who have at least reached pre-kindergarten, as well as teens and adults. The tours start with a video introduction of the park and a look around the Nature Center. We then head outside for a half-mile nature walk or tour of our replica 1830s-era Redbud Hill Homestead and Akokisa Indian Village.
Because these tours occur on weekday mornings, it’s challenging to find volunteers who are available to help. Becoming a tour guide also requires a little more up-front training than some of the other positions, as you will likely need to shadow an established guide for the first couple of tours and may receive mentoring from a staff or experienced volunteer.
However, you will find the tour guides to be some of the most dedicated, tight-knit, and welcoming volunteers at the park. For anyone who enjoys working with people and has the availability to volunteer on weekdays, it is strongly recommended they become a nature or homestead tour guide.
Do I have to pay to volunteer at Jones Park?
No, there is no charge to join or remain a member of the Jesse Jones Park Volunteers.
What is the minimum number of volunteer hours required to remain a member of the JJPV?
To remain a voting member of the JJPV, an annual commitment of at least 20 hours is required.
Am I able to volunteer if I have a disability?
Of course. With our wide range of volunteer opportunities, we have something for everyone.
How should I dress when I come to volunteer?
We recommend wearing closed-toe shoes and dressing appropriately for the weather and volunteer duties. If you are volunteering for a service organization or as part of a corporate service group, we encourage you to wear your organization’s shirt. Please keep in mind that we are a family-oriented park, so certain types of clothing are not allowed. We can provide you with more specific information about the dress attire for volunteers.