Volunteers honored at Empire Mine State Historic Park dinner | TheUnion.com

Volunteers honored at Empire Mine State Historic Park dinner

Empire Mine Park Interpretive Specialist/Volunteer Coordinator Lauren Wilson, left, presented Volunteer Medallion for Superior Achievement awards to, left to right, Priscilla Van Der Pas, Jim Dierberger and Vince Seck. Van der Pas became a volunteer in 1983, Dierberger in 1989, and Seck in 1996.
Submitted photo |

Volunteers who have contributed 40 hours or more during the previous year enjoy a night of food, friends and appreciation every year during the Empire Mine State Historic Park’s dinner, sponsored by Empire Mine Park Association, according to a release.

Service year pins and awards were given out during the Sept. 15 event. The dinner theme was “No Depression Here,” with hints of the roaring 1920s. Costumes were encouraged, table names were based on 1920s fads, and A Family Affair Catering provided food with hints of 1920s flare.

The organization boasts more than 175 active volunteers who contribute more than 25,000 combined hours.

The Empire Mine Park Association’s longest-serving volunteer has served for more than 35 years.

Mine volunteers have a number of different opportunities to volunteer, including tour guides and those who dress in period attire and enact characters from the mine’s past. Some of the characters include the owners of the mine, Mr. and Mrs. Bourn, and the mine manager, George Star and his wife, Libby.

There are also opportunities to portray miners and other various mine yard characters for living history. There is also a blacksmith shop where blacksmith volunteers can hammer away at a courting candle, tommy stick or a variety of other items while teaching the public about the importance of the blacksmiths at the Empire Mine.

The group also hosts Miner’s Luncheons, during which private groups can book a traditional pasty lunch served by volunteers in period attire.

Administrative volunteers are more behind-the-scenes but vital to the park, the release said. The group has a research team that digs through past articles and resources to make information available for the other volunteers as well as park staff.

Even more volunteers work with the facilities of Empire Mine State Historic Park. The Over-the-Hill Gang makes repairs and maintains the buildings and other facilities. The crew also works on projects such as restoring the two stamp mill for visitors to see and feel the power of a stamp mill. There’s also group of garden volunteers who arrive at the park early in the morning to maintain the gardens.

The Empire Mine State Park trail volunteers rove the mine’s 12 miles of trails, picking up trash and making sure the trails are safe and clean. They also hold knowledge about the variety of wildlife and old mining remnants on the trails.

Every year in March at the annual training, the group trains several new interested volunteers. Applications to sign up to be a volunteer are in the Visitor Center at Empire Mine State Historic Park.

Source: Lauren Wilson, Empire Mine Park interpretive specialist/volunteer coordinator

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