Two Ted Hullars took a break from staining this shade structure to chat about why they volunteer. [Photo courtesy of NPS]

Is the volunteer spirit inheritable? For Sierra Club Lifetime Member Ted Hullar and his son, also named Ted Hullar, it certainly seems to be. “Yeah, it’s his fault,” the younger Ted chuckles.

K. Garthwait, of the National Park Service, met both men during their week at Canyonlands National Park on a Sierra Club volunteer service trip, where they were merrily staining fence rail and shade structures near trailheads and the visitor center. Their fellow volunteers had dubbed them “Ted Number One” and “Ted Number Two” (in genealogical order). Ted Number One will follow his week at Canyonlands with a week serving at Arches National Park and another at Chaco Culture National Historic Park.

So what sparked their love for parks? Ted Number One grew up playing on his grandmother’s farm in Minnesota, camping and hiking as a Boy Scout, and he raised his sons to love the outdoors too. Father and son vividly recall their first visit to Moab during a classic cross-country road trip in 1984. State Route 128 along the Colorado River was their entry point to canyon country, and it left an indelible mark. So when Ted Number One learned about the Sierra Club service trips around Moab this summer, he showed the ads to his son, who said, “Yeah, let’s go, Dad!” More than the scenery or the service, “I wanted to be back here with my Dad again.”

Just like his passion for being outdoors, Ted Number One’s volunteerism also stems from childhood, when it seemed “the whole community was always in service to one another, helping each other out.” Whether it was a YMCA clothing donation drive or shoveling your neighbor’s snowy sidewalk, you learned to identify an opportunity to help — and just do it. Pretty soon, “the whole place looks a lot better without much effort.”

His son, Ted Number Two, also speaks of volunteer service in simple terms. “It isn’t a dramatic leap, but a small step.” He volunteers for a backcountry ski patrol back home, which means a lot of time skiing and a little time rescuing. “Being in a place I like, doing things I like, and also tackling real problems” is the perfect service balance. His father agrees: “Giving of yourself to others, one way or another, weighs large and small.”