The Friends of Virgin Islands National Park (Friends) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation and protection of the natural and cultural resources of Virgin Islands National Park (Park) and promotes the responsible enjoyment of this unique national treasure. As the official private sector partner to the Park, the Friends is a membership organization that raises funds from individuals, corporations and foundations to support projects important to the Park and to further our mission.
Money raised by the Friends supports environmental education, natural resource conservation, cultural preservation and scientific research. The Friends also acts as an advocate for our National Park, particularly on issues that threaten its precious natural or cultural resources.
Incorporated in 1988, the Friends is governed by a 13-member volunteer Board of Directors. Our full-time staff consists of an executive director, development director, program manager, administrative assistant and store manager. On a part time basis, we employ a bookkeeper. Our offices are located just outside the Park in Cruz Bay on St. John, VI.
The Friends Board of Directors recently approved an ambitious program plan for 2012 valued at about $500,000. Below are the details of our program plan.
Cultural Resource Preservation Projects
- Annaberg Cultural Demonstrations ($1,000 - funded): Provides supplies for the Annaberg Living History program which consists of a baker baking bread in a “Dutch Oven”, and a gardener maintaining and interpreting a subsistence garden plot.
- Archaeology Museum Exhibits ($29,500 - partially funded): Supports the costs of the development and installation of the new exhibits in the newly renovated Heritage Center and Archaeology Lab at Cinnamon Bay.
- Archaeology and Heritage Program ($90,100 - funded): Contined ongoing support for the archaeology program, covering stipends and other costs for interns and international collaboration with the University of Copenhagen.
- Cultural Evening at Cinnamon Bay: ($10,000 - funding needed): Replacing the cultural play, we will initiate a new program around cultural music, such as the history of the “African Drum” and its use as a communication tool.
- Folk Life Festival ($12,000 - funding needed): 2012 markes the 21st anniversary of the festival. This year it will focus on Virgin Islands culture as it relates to farming and horticulture. It will also feature traditional dance and music, storytelling, arts and crafts.
- Hassel Island ($21,000 - funded): Conservation of artifacts uncovered at the Creque Marine Slipway and helping open this site to visitation.
- Documents for Hassel Island ($7,200 - funded) Publication of a document on Hassel Island which will include reproductions of maps and plans, photographs, rare books and manuscripts.
- Historic Research Program Support ($16,000 - funding needed) Supports continuation of the research begun in the Spanish Archives and the beginning of research in the British Archives for documents and data related to VI National Park resources.
- Post-Emancipation Interpretation Program ($15,000-funding needed) Development and installation of wayside signage recounting the history cattle and their ecological impact on St. John and in VI National Park.
- Earth Day Fair and Reef Fest ($6,000 - funding needed): As part of a week of Earth Day activities, an Earth Day Environmental Fair will be organized for local school kids. Through hands-on teaching methods, story-telling, and environmental demonstrations, the youth of St. John will learn about ways to respect and preserve the world around them. In an aquatic component, called Reef Fest, youth will participate in a day of learning on the marine resources of St John.
- Eco-camps ($51,000 - funding needed) Funds at least 120 school children to attend the Eco-camps, Science camp, and Ranger-in-Training camp at VIERS. Kids experience 3-5 days in the park learning about marine and terrestrial eco-systems.
- Marine & Terrestrial Natural Hazards Brochures & Web Pages ($7,300 - funding needed): Produce brochures, posters and in-depth web pages for “Hazardous Marine Life”, “Other Marine Creatures,” and “Injurious & Poisonous Plants” found in the Virgin Islands National Park and St. John.
- Scholarship Fund ($3,600 - funding needed): Provides three $1000 scholarships to VI students studying natural sciences at the university level.
- School Kids in the Park -- SKIP ($18,000 - funded): The flagship of our environmental education program for children, the project funds small ($500 max) grants for teachers to use VINP as a teaching/learning resource, and provides transport for ranger-led field trips into the park.
- Tektite Interpretation ($18,000 - funding needed) Design and placement of interpretation and visitor experience materials consisting of a wayside interpretation devices and benched to be located at Cabrite Horn Trail overlooking the Tektite site and on a floating dock just offshore.
- VINP Research Documentary Film ($12,000 - funding needed): Production of a video in collaboration with NOAA that will document the scientific work underway in VINP by NPS, NOAA and its partners. Production costs to be shared with NOAA.
- Educational Wayside Exhibits and Signs ($36,000 - funding needed) Repair or replace damaged and faded interpretive signs throughout the park to improve visitor experience and understanding of park resources. It is estimated that about 20 signs need urgent attention.
Natural Resource Protection Projects
- Accessible Trails ($42,000 - partially funded): Complete the handicapped-accessible boardwalk at Francis Bay. The first half of this ADA compliant nature trail was completed in 2009, over 700 feet of boardwalk remain unfinished.
- Accessibility Assessment ($9,600 - funding needed) Support for a comprehensive accessibility assessment throughout the park to identify areas of opportunity for improved access and target barrier removal.
- Trail Rating System (5,000 - funding needed) Develop a trail rating system for all trails, similar to those used on ski slopes, within VI National Park. Once the rating is determined for all trails, a new brochure, signage, and web pages will be developed in subsequent phases.
- Adopt a Trail/Beach ($18,000 - funded): Provides supplies and materials for the trail and beach clean-ups and the Volunteer Walkup Maintenance program and covers the stipend for the Volunteer Coordinator.
- Lionfish Response ($2,200 - funded): Support efforts to reduce lionfish populations in Virgin Islands National Park and VI Coral Reef National Monument. This project will primarily be used to put together lionfish capture kits that will be used by NPS, USGS, NOAA and other divers when working in Park and Monument waters.
- SCA Trail Crews ($42,000 - funding needed) A Summer Trail Crew program which will involve VI and mainland US kids in trail repair and maintenance. This year’s crew will consist of four high school students from the VI, four students from the mainland US and 2 crew leaders. They will repair/improve approximately 10 miles of park trails.
- Blue Flag Signage at Trunk Bay ($3,000 - funded) Develop and install signage at Trunk Bay regarding it’s designation as a “Blue Flag” beach.
If you are interested in learning more, or supporting a particular program, please contact Heather Ruhsam at firstname.lastname@example.org
Friends of Virgin Islands National Park
PO Box 811 St. John, VI 00831