Befriending the falls: Volunteers enjoy perks at Silver Falls State Park

May 2019 Posted in Other

Susan Ransom, Friends of Silver Falls volunteer.

By Melissa Wagoner

Susan Ransom’s enthusiasm for Silver Falls State Park is palpable. Get her talking about the waterfalls and the people who visit them and she is all smiles.

“What’s not to love?” she asked. “The beauty, the peace, the stillness – most  people can’t even use their phones up here.”

A native of California, Ransom has yearned to live in Oregon since she was a teenager. So when her husband retired, she jumped at the chance to pack up and head north.

“I waited 40 years and when he retired I gave my notice at California State, Long Beach,” she remembered. “My husband and I love it. I have such a rain deficit from living in California that I will never be filled.”

Not long after moving to Salem, Ransom – a firm believer in giving back to her community – became a member of the Friends of Silver Falls and a volunteer at the park’s Nature Store.

“Most days I think I should be paying them,” she said. “My professional career was supervisory and office so I get to fulfill a childhood dream. I meet people from all over the world.”

The Friends of Silver Falls is a non-profit group whose primary function is to further educational opportunities and promote, preserve and enhance the state park.

“We run the store and we also work at the special events they have,” Ransom said. “The funds generated go back into the park – we hire an interpretive ranger and we do improvements.”

The events include the Mother’s Day Birding and Wildflower Festival in May and the Christmas Festival in December as well as State Parks Day coming up on June 1 and Historic Silver Falls Days,  July 13 and 14. All of which require a lot of volunteers – something the Friends are always in the market for.

“We have a good group of volunteers but we’re always looking for more,” Ransom explained. “Volunteers can work just a few hours a month but we’re looking for people who enjoy meeting people. It’s important for us to have people who love it.”

And for those who want to support the park but cannot devote the time, Ransom noted that being a Friend does not necessarily entail a volunteer obligation. Instead there is a membership system with several tiers. The lowest of these is the Individual Level, which starts at just $15 and entitles members to a 10 percent discount on purchases at the nature store as well as admission to the annual Recognition Dinner. The top tier – or Steward Level – achieved with donations of $500 or more, receives all of the aforementioned benefits with the addition of an annual Vehicle State Park Pass and a behind the scenes tour of the park.

“Even if they just wanted to do that and not volunteer, that’s fine,” Ransom assured. “It’s just so important to preserve this so people can get educated in nature.”

Friends of Silver Falls
Membership: $15 and up, with varying benefits

Volunteer Opportunities

Nature Store, open 11 a.m.
to 5 p.m. daily

•  Special Projects

•  Nature Walks

•  Trail Maintenance & Litter Patrol

Upcoming Events

•  State Parks Day on June 1

•  Historic Silver Falls Day, July 13 & 14

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