Larry Johnson is a Cal State University, Long Beach graduate student majoring in Public Administration and Business Operations. In addition, to his academic studies, he works part time at Sam’s Club, and finds time in his busy schedule to volunteer several hours each week as an intern with the OC Parks Adopt-A-Park program. Through his internship, Larry has provided outstanding support for the Adopt-A-Park Volunteer Services division. His responsibilities involve the recruitment, screening, orienting, tracking and recognition of volunteers.
According to OC Parks Volunteer Services Coordinator Angeline Santiago, “Volunteers are the ‘heartbeat’ of the OC Parks Adopt-A-Park program.” Each year thousands of volunteers participate in a variety of activities from trail maintenance and restoration to leading interpretive hikes and providing visitor education. With the assistance of exceptional interns such as Larry, OC Parks Volunteer Services successfully manages the habitat beautification efforts of more than 400 general volunteers and countless special-event and short-term volunteers who are assigned to 39,000 acres of parkland and open space, which includes 30 OC Parks locations.
The Adopt-A-Park Volunteer Services internship program was initiated in 2007 with Larry as the first student intern. He has been instrumental in mainstreaming the volunteer registration process throughout OC Parks, and during the test phase of the new OC Parks volunteer database, he made several recommendations for enhancing the system. In addition, Larry has led the Adopt-A-Park program orientation meetings for specialized volunteer groups that include developmentally disabled adults who are eager to lend a hand and who benefit tremendously from their volunteer experience. As further proof of his commitment to the program, Larry personally recruited additional interns to assist the Volunteer Services coordinator. It’s easy to see why OC Parks staff is so impressed with this incredible volunteer!
In April 2007, the Volunteer Services coordinator was asked to conduct two extremely difficult and highly stressful orientation meetings for developmentally disabled adults. Even though the presentations were thoughtfully planned, several orientation supplies were inadvertently left behind at the program’s Irvine Regional Park office. The Volunteer Services coordinator decided to return to the park to retrieve the items and asked Larry to quickly fill in for her. Without hesitation, he stepped forward to begin the orientation, adapting the information to materials that were available. He delivered the presentation with ease and confidence, maintaining the interest of the entire group while connecting each volunteer with Adopt-A-Park projects that matched their individual skills and interests.
Larry is a motivated volunteer who consistently goes above and beyond the call of duty. His confidence, initiative, positive attitude and flexibility are exceptional attributes that enhance his efforts in providing support for the Volunteer Services coordinator. His management experience in operations and general management, planning and allocation has helped to strengthen the Adopt-A-Park volunteer program. Since beginning his internship in early 2007, Larry has contributed more than 150 volunteer hours to the Adopt-A-Park Volunteer Services program. Rather than end his internship with the completion of required hours, Larry has decided to continue volunteering indefinitely.