Education and Interpretation Volunteering


The forest is a vast and mysterious place.   With your help, we can educate the public in order to enrich their visits to the forest.   Volunteers are needed to help provide information, interpretive talks, lead tours, and participate in local festivals and clinics.

Some of the most visited sites in the Mt Hood National Forest are historic buildings. Built at various times in our country's past, these buildings have stories to tell and but need interpreters and tour guides to be their voice. Without the help of volunteers, many visitors would miss out on the wonderful stories that make this part of our world unique.

What is Interpretation?

Freeman Tilden, considered the father of environmental interpretation, defines interpretation as, "an educational activity which aims to reveal meanings and relationships through the use of original objects, by firsthand experience, and by illustrative media, rather than simply to communicate factual information." Tilden believed that interpreters' presentations should not merely make the visitor experience enjoyable, but should also arouse the visitors' curiosity, enhance their sense of wonder, and awaken their desire to protect the national heritage.

What experience do I need?

Are you a teacher on summer vacation, a retired educator, or just someone with a little free time who loves the forest?   Perfect!   All you need is the energy and desire to educate others about the resources, buildings, habitats, and animals of the forest.

Forest Service Volunteer Opportunities

Barlow Road Pioneer Camp

The history camp is along the Barlow Road (last overland segment of the Oregon Trail) and the setting is what might look like an 1840's pioneer camp.   There is a pioneer wagon, trunk with clothes, tin ware, period dishes, cast iron Dutch ovens, bags of dried foods, and a basket of children's toys from the time period to try out.   Interpreters live in tents, cook in dutch ovens, and dress in pioneer clothing.   For more information contact David Gross at 541-467-5104.Evening interpretive talks

Evening interpretive talks take place Saturday nights during the summer at Indian Henry Campground located in the Clackamas River Ranger District. 

Timberline Lodge-Interpreters

On the south slope of Mt Hood in Oregon , Timberline Lodge is unique in America .   It is the only twentieth-century public building of its size constructed and furnished entirely by hand with original craft work in wood, wrought iron, weaving, appliqué, painting, mosaic, carved linoleum, and stained glass.   Thousands of people visit Timberline Lodge each year.   Interpreters conduct regular and specialized tours of the public spaces and offer outdoor nature walks depending on seasonal weather conditions.

Cloud Cap Inn-Tour Guides

Coud Cap Inn was the first structure to be built on the high slopes of Mt. Hood. The Inn was designed and built in 1889 to withstand the harsh mountain environment.   Heavy cables were passed over the roof and anchored to rock to keep the building from blowing off the ridge.   When Timberline Lodge was built, the Inn 's era of prosperity ended.

Today, the Crag Rats, one of the nation's first mountain climbing and rescue organizations use the building.   Starting in 1954, they have made extensive repairs and now work with the Forest Service to protect and maintain the Inn. Tours will be given on Sundays, beginning in July.

For information on leading tours, contact Ron Kikel at the Hood River Ranger District at (541) 352 6002 ext. 639.  

Lost Lake -Interpreters

Northwest of Mt. Hood, Lost Lake is a popular summer destination where visitors enjoy camping, fishing, and hiking.   During the summer, a Junior Ranger Program and Campfire/Evening Program will be offered on Saturdays starting in July and running until the end of August.

Volunteer to be a part of these programs--contact Ron Kikel at the Hood River Ranger District at (541) 352 6002 ext. 639.

Summer Interpretive Rangers

The Hood River Ranger District is looking for volunteers that would be interested in spending part of their summer interacting with the campers and visitors who use Mt. Hood.   You can assist us in leading interpretive hikes and tours, handing out Junior Ranger program books, giving environmental programs to kids and adults, and roving campgrounds as a point of contact and Forest Service information for all visitors.   We could even use help developing environmental education programs and Junior Ranger activities as well. To be a part of these fun and rewarding programs, contact Ron Kikel at the Hood River Ranger District at (541) 352 6002 ext. 639.

Conservation Education

Are you looking for experience working with kids or in education?   Would you like to go into schools and teach students something about the world around us?  We are looking for individuals interested in developing and delivering environmental education programs with the Forest Service in the Oregon Trails school district. Reach children by encouraging their exploration of the outdoors and the world around them. Please contact David Gross at 541-467-5104.

Youth Fishing Clinics

Each Mt. Hood National Forest Ranger District holds a free youth fishing clinic in May or June every year.  These clinics invite local youth and their families out for a day of fishing fun and education.  Volunteers are needed to register participants, cook and hand out food, teach about casting and baiting hooks, run contests, clean caught fish, and help with fishy crafts and activities.  If you or your group would like to volunteer for this event please use the contact information for the ranger district you would like to participate in.  We would love your help!

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Outdoor Festival Volunteer Opportunities

Get Wild with Wildlife

Held one Thursday in August at Jackson Park in Hood River, in conjunction with Families in the Park, Get Wild with Wildlife is a fun activity for kids and people of all ages. Discover the animals that live in the Mt. Hood National Forest with a series of fun, interactive exhibits on display, including pelts, skulls, animal tracks, and bats. 

Mt. Hood Festival of the Forest

The Villages of Mt. Hood will celebrate the diversity of the Mt. Hood area with dining, recreation, history, nature conservation, visual arts, performing arts and music. The Mt. Hood Festival of the Forest is a family-oriented event that offers nature crafts, forest activities, art vendor booths, an art contest and, of course, food and drink.   Volunteers will be needed to help run booths, educating and entertaining visitors.

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Featured Events

Key Contacts

General Volunteering Information Contacts:

For general information about volunteering to work on Mt. Hood National Forest, please contact Mark Engler of Zigzag Ranger District at 503-622-2024 or Ron Kikel of Hood River Ranger District at 541-352-1206.