On January 20, your OBX national parks will honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., by celebrating the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service!

According to the Corporation for National and Community Service, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was first observed on January 20, 1986, the same day as Dr. King’s birthday. Ten years later, Congress decided to make Martin Luther King, Jr. Day “a national day of service, that helps to empower individuals, strengthen communities, bridge barriers, address social problems and move us closer to Dr. King’s vision of a ‘Beloved Community.’”

More than 100 National Parks across the United States will waive their entrance fees for the day, including Wright Brothers National Memorial.

Nicole Loiseau, the Volunteer and Youth Program Manager for your OBX national parks, took the time to share with us why the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service is such an important day in our parks and in our local community:

What does the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service mean to you?

A volunteer clears vegetation at Fort Raleigh National Historic Site on the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service. Photo Credit: National Park Service

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is more than a day off from school or work; it’s an opportunity to honor Dr. King’s life by making a difference in our communities, whether it’s by volunteering, donating to a worthy cause or simply being kind to others. This Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, a local Girl Scout Troop will be assisting with landscaping projects at Fort Raleigh National Historic Site—making it “a day on, not a day off”. I encourage you to let MLK Day be your start to a commitment to service.

Why should people serve in their national parks?

There are countless reasons why you should volunteer—you just need to find the one that resonates with you. Getting out into the community helps enrich us all. There are 12 great reasons to volunteer with the National Park Service:

  • Help the environment
  • Enhance the visitors’ experience
  • Meet new people and make friends
  • Get or stay healthy
  • Find a purpose
  • Gain new skills, knowledge, and experience
  • Use your skills in a productive way
  • Explore new areas of interest
  • Take a break from work or a busy lifestyle
  • Feel valued and part of a team
  • Makes you feel good
  • It’s fun!

What would you like locals and visitors to know about volunteering with the parks?

Volunteers-in-Parks (VIPs) are very important people! From assisting with the lighthouse climbs, to serving as campground hosts, to helping with the sea turtle nesting program and everything in between, the work our volunteers do makes a difference! Opportunities are available for both highly skilled professionals and for beginners with little to no experience.

Volunteers plant sea oats on Make a Difference Day (October) Photo Credit: National Park Service

Did you know that you can serve with your OBX national parks throughout the year? Mark your calendars for this year’s Beach Cleanups!

  • April 18 – Start of National Park Week (this is also a “fee-free” day!)
  • June 13 – During World Ocean Month
  • Sept 26 – National Public Lands Day (another “fee-free” day!)

In addition, your OBX national parks regularly post their volunteer needs on Volunteer.gov. To find an opportunity in the OBX, you can refine your search by state (North Carolina) and agency (National Park Service).

If you or your organized group would like to participate in a future volunteer project, please call the OBX Group’s Volunteer Program Manager at 252-475-9042.

Let’s serve our OBX national parks together, forever!