This project is now fully funded as part of the European Solidarity Corps – the European Union initiative which creates opportunities for young people to volunteer or work in projects in their own country or abroad that benefit communities and people around Europe.
The project is a continued cooperation with some of the best regional and national state parks of Lithuania which started back in 2006.
Please continue reading and you will learn more about the hosting organizations, project objectives, planned volunteer activties and how to apply.
Dzukija National Park
As one travels around the Dzūkija National Park (an area of 58,519 hectares), no matter where one looks, one sees pine trees everywhere – at the tops of dunes and on the slopes of river valleys, in the rolling plains and in the wetlands and marshes. However, beneath this seemingly monotonous veil of pine forests, a very distinctive and rich natural world is concealed. Flood-meadows and transitional meadows, raised bogs and fens, sand dunes and fast-flowing rivers and streams have become the habitat for a multitude of rare plants and animals.
Čepkeliai – Dzūkija National/PAN Park, which is composed of the Čepkeliai state nature reservation as well as the Dzūkija National Park and in which the natural ecosystem of the Dainava Forest is preserved, is one of 13 PAN parks in Europe.
Zemaitija National Park
Welcome to Zemaitija National Park with its majestic Lake Plateliai and picturesque landscape including a great variety of unique natural, historical and cultural values.
Zemaitija National Park (ZNP) was established in 1991 with the aim of preserving, managing and sustainably developing those areas of Zemaitija in north-western Lithuania, that are most valued for their natural and cultural qualities.
Žemaitija National Park is famous for its rich cultural heritage from the Stone Age. The people of this area, so-called Žemaičiai, have preserved their dialect, customs, characteristic traits, original buildings and vernacular architecture. There are more than 200 items of cultural value including castle hills, sacrifice hills, burial mounds and ancient settlements. The castle hills include Užpelkiai, Gegrėnai, Pūčkoriai, Jazdauskiškiai, Grigaičiai, St Jonas’ (Žemaičių Kalvarija), Šarnelė; the sacrifice-hills are found in Visvainiai, Mikytai, Vilkai, Gilaičiai, Paparčiai and ancient settlements in Gegrėnai and Šarnelė.
The most significant architectural features are the churches in Plateliai, Beržoras and Žemaičių Kalvarija, the Water Mill in Babrungėnai and some ancient farmsteads.
More than 90 ancient art works are preserved, mostly crosses, chapels, roadside poles with statuettes of a saint that have been built alongside roads or fixed on trees.
Seaside Regional Park
Seaside Regional Park (Lithuanian: Pajūrio regioninis parkas) is a regional park located on the coast of the Baltic Sea in Western Lithuania. 54% of its 5602 ha is sea and 36% forest. The administration offices are in Karklė. The park was founded in order to preserve the continental coastal landscapes/seascapes, the natural and cultural heritage properties, the biological diversity of the Baltic Sea, and the marine boulder beds.
Tytuvenai Regional Park
Tytuvenai surroundings attract travellers the most by wonderful pine forests around the lake, as well as architectural and art monuments.
It would be difficult to imagine Tytuvenai regional park without wetlands, stone dams called ‘rūža’ (from Lithuanian – bank), Tytuvenai church and monastery architectural ensemble, and the chapel of Šiluva.
The most famous cultural object in Tytuvenai is the church and monastery architectural ensemble from the 17th century. Spacious yard, surrounded by closed Lithuanian gallery, with a chapel with steps in the center, by which those who come to pray go up. In a monastery in authentic monks’ cells lots of fresco paintings are made.
Venta Regional Park
Venta Regional Park is unique by its geological structure. Only here you can see the rocks of mysterious Jurassic Period, touch the remains – fossils – of animals that lived in dinosaur era by your own hands. Papilė exposures are also unique and have a value in World scientific range.
The most famous object of inanimate nature heritage – Papilė‘s exposures of Jurassic Period, which reveal precipitate that appeared in the bay of a shallow sea 160 million years ago. In the district of Venta, a stratum of sediments of a huge pre-glacial period lake was also detected. It assists to scorching climate and vegetation of tundra, which grew there 30-80 thousand years ago.
Nida Tourist information centre
Nida culture and tourism information center (NCTIC) is a community lighthouse of the town. The center is an accredited member of the Association of Lithuanian Culture Centers. The institution focuses on a public traditional and modern culture performances. It promotes the creativity of locals, especially youth, cultural strength of the territorial community, and tourism development of the area. Nida CTIC arranges professional and amateur art events, entertainment performances, informal education programs, national days, memorable dates, preparation and participation in various festivals, local, regional and national international celebrations, collaborations between art, business, tourism, cultural and similar institutions.
The management of the local tourism covers such duties as an introduction to the places of tourist interests, provides the tourist information brochures and maps, helps to choose the most suitable accommodation. Also offers to buy the souvenirs and other resort attributes. In fact, all the services and obligations are based on the interaction with locals and tourists, independently on their age, belief, cultural background, etc. Communication maintained under the friendly national and international levels.
Objectives of the Project
Local communities are important elements providing conditions for economic, socio-cultural and environmental (in other words sustainable) development. Futhermore, local communities and the receiving organizations are at the front of implementing EU regional policies on the environmental protection (in our case, Priority D of the new EU environmental action plan: “Better communication and outreach, engaging citizens, stakeholders and communities”).
Volunteers will live and have their activities in smaller rural communities which are one of the primary target groups in our project. Participants of the project, acting as volunteer assistants to specialists, will:
- contribute to the implementation of the receiving organizations’ environmental, educational and cultural missions;
- spread positive practices of volunteering, environmental protection, inter-cultural communication in the local community.
Volunteers will acquire new professional and social competencies. In addition, the project provides space for personal volunteer initiatives, and project/program publicity activities are planned. Volunteers’ task organization is based on principles of non-formal education/learning.
The project also aims to
- encourage (young) people’s awareness of global environmental problems,
- disseminate ideas for volunteering in rural areas, to provide inter-cultural communication/cognition
- give opportunities for local communities, provide new operational challenges for the host organizations’ staff.
During this project (8-9 months), young people will have the opportunity to express their solidarity by taking responsibility and committing themselves to positive changes in local communities.
State parks for local communities are not only environmental but also educational agents, seeking the welfare of the local community, including its very weakest members.
The project’s activities will take place in five Lithuanian environmental organizations (state regional and national parks), which will jointly host 9 volunteers (1-2 in one organization) from different countries. Volunteers will contribute to the nature protection and cultural mission of parks, which is also pursued in close cooperation with the local communities.
Volunteers will work as assistants in the host organizations. Each host organization will assign volunteers tasks tailored to individual needs. In general, state parks offer a wide range of activities:
assistance to park specialists, management of protected areas, visitor service in visitor centers, museums, guided tours, assistance to local community events, nature observation and recording, publicity of park activities and many others.
The general background requirements for the participants: volunteers who would cherish and appreciate the opportunity given to them and regard it as a valuable experience to learn and improve themselves. The volunteers should be able to dedicate their time and effort to the receiving organizations and their communities. The receiving organizations hope that the future volunteers will be active, positive, communicative, ready to help and learn. During the candidate selection attention will be given to how interested future volunteers are in environmental protection and community work.
We will look for volunteers to meet the following criteria: interest in cultural heritage, natural sciences, ecology, recreation management in protected areas, sustainable development, environmental protection and small rural communities.
How to Apply
If you haven’t joined the European Solidarity Corps, you should do that first by following this link https://europa.eu/youth/solidarity_en and completing the registration process. Once done, please contact us by email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will guide you further.