Volunteering for the Ark Park

Picture of the Ark
Photograph by Dan Phelps

Our colleague Dan Phelps sent us another puff piece from the Grant County News. This one, by Linda Lawrence, features a couple who have been volunteering for the Ark Park since 2016. As Mr. Phelps points out, this

piece of propaganda … shows that AIG is bringing in volunteers to do a significant amount of the work. Thus, even fewer jobs are available for local residents, payroll taxes are not levied on the volunteers, and Ken Ham continues to laugh all the way to the bank.

According to the IRS Form 990 for 2016, AIG had 589 employees and 168 volunteers; in 2017, they had 687 employees and 154 volunteers. There is no indication how many of the employees or volunteers were full-time. I do not know how to square these numbers with the claim in the article that the Ark Park “employs up to 1,200 full-time and part-time/seasonal staff members, according to a November 2018 blog post by Answers in Genesis founder Ken Ham.”

Mr. Ham’s relatives are not quite as generous as the volunteers: In 2017, five of his children and their spouses were compensated amounts between approximately $28,000 and $65,000, according to AIG’s IRS Form 990 for that year. In 2016, eight family members were compensated amounts between approximately $10,000 and $70,000.

Incidentally, Mr. Phelps also notes in passing that “the article makes the remarkable claim that the restaurant feeds 3000 people per day” during the summer season. In 2011, he reported here that

[Mike] Zovath [senior vice-president of Ark Encounter] said Ark Encounter will have 60 to 70 acres of their 800 acres available to developers to either lease or purchase for hotels and restaurants. Ark Encounter itself is staying out of the hotel and restaurant business.