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Volunteer at the Cherokee Ranch and Castle; preserve a legacy

Spend some time with Pat and Marilyn, two of the Castle’s remarkable volunteers, and become captivated by the history and stories they will share throughout your tour.

Article and photo by Lynne Marsala Basche

Nestled off of Daniels Park Road is the spectacular Cherokee Ranch and Castle, which includes 3,100 acres of wildlife and an actual castle. This historic and architectural gem in Douglas County is always looking for volunteers to preserve the legacy of the Johnson and Kimball families.

The Cherokee Ranch and Castle is much more than the museum, cultural, and events venue it is today. First and foremost, it was a home to two families, each of whom raised two boys. The ancestry of the Castle dates back to the late 1800s. Dedicated and enthusiastic volunteers bring history and stories to life while pointing out countless paintings and artifacts collected and displayed for everyone to enjoy throughout the Castle.

Maintaining the Castle, as well as the grounds, requires people with varying skills. Currently, the Castle employs seven paid staff and 117 volunteers, and it is impossible to walk through the doors and not feel the warmth and passion volunteers want to share. Volunteers are needed for a multitude of tasks, such as maintaining trails, leading elk bugling and hike tours, acting as hosts and docents, guiding geology and bird hikes, and gardening. Also, the Castle is part of a national bluebird program, and volunteers are needed to inspect boxes, count eggs and note changes. Throughout the year, there are several cultural, educational and private events that need volunteers in different capacities.

Linda Gould, the private events manager and volunteer coordinator, makes it easy to participate. Scheduling is flexible and no time commitment is required. Volunteers choose to work where their interests lie, and opportunities are sent three months in advance to select days and times that work for them. All volunteers must participate in an initial training session and tour. Additional training may be required based on the opportunity.

The benefits of volunteering include an incentive program whereby volunteers earn gift certificates to programs at the Castle, as well as an appreciation dinner and a discount at the gift shop. Volunteers also get to share their passion for the Castle, meet new people with similar interests, and are surrounded by indescribable beauty.

If you have a desire to share a piece of Douglas County’s history, an interest in art or architecture, a passion for gardening, or a need to share your love for the outdoors, please consider volunteering at the Cherokee Ranch and Castle. For additional information, visit



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