A small, hardworking core of volunteers works hard to spruce up Glacier Park, and they’re led by a special woman. Cheryl Klein is the president of Glacier National Park Volunteer Associates and she says being active is essential to health and happiness.
“That’s the key. You have to keep moving or you lose it,” she noted in a recent interview.
Klein, 72, has lived part-time in the Flathead Valley since 2004, and moved here full-time in 2011. She started volunteering with GNPVA in 2005, joined the board in 2012, and is starting her fourth year as president of the volunteer associates.
Klein was born in Illinois and lived in Michigan most of her life, attending the University of Michigan to achieve her bachelor’s in biology as well as a nursing degree.
After college, she lived near Big Timber and had some of her nurse training in Missoula, falling in love with the area.
“I always said that I’d like to settle in Montana,” she said.
She and her husband, Bob, live in Somers and are active in their church. They both enjoy hiking and occasionally RV camping, but they’re busy with volunteer work. Klein also likes backpacking and gardening, and she and Bob have a Rails to Trails bike path right behind their yard.
“I’ve always been outdoors – backpacking, camping, skiing, biking. This just offered a new area to do that, and a better area,” she explained.
Klein got involved with volunteering in the Park because of her love for the outdoors and fieldwork.
GNPVA coordinates with the Park to rebuild structures, paint, refurbish buildings, and work on trails. Klein also volunteers in the backcountry permitting office on Fridays during the summer.
Basically, the volunteers do whatever the Park needs, she said. Members of GNPVA also donate some funding to projects.
Last year, about 50 to 60 active core volunteers, mostly retirees, renovated the Goat Lick overlook, the Matejka cabin, and the Logan Creek cabin. They also worked on the upper McDonald Creek horse bridge. This year, Klein expects that they’ll be called in to help with aquatic invasive species inspection.
Klein’s volunteer work is fulfilling.
“If you can find a cause or organization that gives you satisfaction with the work you do, not only are you helping the people who enjoy the Park, but you’re doing a lot for the Park too,” she said.