IRC staff member Kim Casey plays a large role when it comes to volunteer programs that benefit Orange County parks and open spaces. As the Manager of Volunteer Programs, Kim oversees the volunteer administration portion of IRC’s contract with OC Parks. This includes the development and implementation of the OC Parks Volunteer Program where IRC oversees roughly 800 volunteers throughout 28 different facilities across the county (including regional parks, wilderness parks, historic parks, beaches, and open space preserves). Kim works with OC Parks staff to onboard and train volunteers, as well as develop training and educational opportunities to support the volunteers in their diverse roles and support park staff with any volunteer management and on-site needs they may have.
Working for IRC and the OC Parks Volunteer Program for about nine years, Kim is proud of the growth she has seen in the program and how far along it has come. Prior to Kim’s work, the volunteer program had about 150 active volunteers and most park facilities did not use the volunteers as often as they do today. Kim worked to build a program that made it easy for volunteers to get out in our local parks and for staff to have the assurance that volunteers would have the proper training and uniforming needed to perform their duties. Since then, the volunteer program has grown to roughly 800 volunteers, expanded the number of facilities volunteering is available at, and in 2017 won the National Association of Counties Achievement Award.
“I feel truly blessed that I love my job. But I think what I love the most is the people I get to work with,” said Kim. “Our volunteers are so passionate about what they do, the IRC and OC Parks staff are the most supportive co-workers, and the many partner agencies we work with to help support volunteer efforts throughout the county are amazing! I have built many friendships through this job, and I am so thankful for that!”
Besides working with the volunteers on a daily basis, one of Kim’s favorite moments is getting to honor them for their hard work and dedication. Every year, OC Parks staff and volunteers gather together at the OC Parks Volunteer Celebration where they commemorate the work accomplished in Orange County’s parkland and open spaces.
When Kim isn’t working with the Volunteer Program, she enjoys spending time outdoors and sharing her passion for nature with her kids. Their adventures have led them to explore local county parks, attend OC Parks events, fun camping trips, as well as visiting State and National Parks. Kim loves exploring the outdoors far and wide, but also takes time to enjoy the natural beauty of Orange County whenever she can.
“One of my favorite places on the Landmarks is OC Parks’ Weir Canyon. The oak groves are spectacular and when you are deep in the canyon you feel as if you are 100 miles away from the nearest city,” said Kim. “One of my other favorite OC Parks facilities is Irvine Regional Park. This is one of my kids favorite places to go. There are opportunities for everyone to enjoy! We love hiking and biking as well as playing in the oak groves, visiting the OC Zoo (the best zoo around!), going to the farmers market, and visiting the train station and pony rides!”
For more information about volunteer programs on the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks, visit IRConservancy.org or follow the Conservancy on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.