Written by: CRIA Volunteer Laura Lunsford

 As a history major, I have always had an interest in the people who came before us.  How did they live, what did they eat, what was their culture?  When we moved to Pagosa Springs five years ago, I was excited to learn about the ancient Puebloan culture and Chimney Rock was a natural place to start.

In my three years as a volunteer, I have had the opportunity to learn about their architecture, lifestyle, food and water sources and cultural practices.  I find it fascinating that there were farmers and Chacoan elites living side by side.  I love sharing this information with visitors, hearing their questions and watching their excitement when they put the pieces together.

I have worked as a greeter at the cabin, a mesa host and as a tour guide and interpreter.  Last year, I worked with a team developing a new tour called The Flora of Chimney Rock.  This is one of several special tours and it focuses on the trees, shrubs and flowers found at Chimney Rock, and how those plants were used by the ancient Puebloan people.

Another event that I enjoy are the school programs and Life at Chimney Rock.  These are programs designed to engage school age children in hands on activities, such as pot making, yucca pounding and rope making.  There are also opportunities to learn about Native American arts such as petroglyphs and scientific techniques like dendrochronology.

If you enjoy getting out into nature, learning new things and interacting with the public, Chimney Rock Interpretive Association is a great place to volunteer.  There are a variety of opportunities with different levels of physical exertion, training and time commitments.  The staff are very accommodating and work with you to customize a volunteer role that will meet your desires and interest.  I hope you come and join us this summer!

To help community members learn about the exciting volunteer opportunities at Chimney Rock National Monument, CRIA will host an open house on Friday, March 19th at 6:30pm at the Tennyson Event Center located at 197 Navajo Trail. A host of CRIA volunteers will be on hand, who are eager to introduce guests to the variety of roles that support this unique program and the flexibility in level of commitment. Some of the volunteer positions include: Visitor Cabin Host, Mesa Host, Roving Interpreter and Maintenance Crew.

CRIA offers a great, in-depth training program in a fun environment to anyone interested in joining our amazing team of volunteers.  This year volunteer training will take place on the morning of Saturday, April 24th at the Tennyson Event Center with a trip to Chimney Rock National Monument in the afternoon. We are very excited for the upcoming season starting May 15th and want to encourage the community to join us!

CRIA is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization that runs the daily operations and interpretive program at Chimney Rock National monument in partnership with the USDA Forest Service and the San Juan National Forest.  For more information see the CRIA website at www.chimneyrockco.org  or call (970) 731-7133.