Some people don’t want to help out the government. That’s fine. There are lots of opportunities to volunteer your time to the outdoors through non-government or non-profit groups. Often these groups are not oozing with extra money, so they love the support of volunteers. It is a huge resource that many organizations depend on.
It may come as a surprise, but the volunteer force is growing more rapidly than the paid labor force. As the society develops a more "green" sense, more people want to get out and help.
Also more people want to get out and enjoy a breath of fresh air while they escape the workweek zoo. Volunteering is a great way to do this.
Working with a non-government organization is often more focused on specific aspects of the environment. Volunteering for these groups is a great way to assist your home area. There are tons of groups that you can choose. The best way to find these volunteer opportunities is to ask around at your local outdoor stores or see what groups are working in your favorite recreational area.
Not only will you feel good about volunteering your time, but also your efforts may lead to full time positions or contacts you can use in your career. A few of the bigger names are the Student Conservation Association, The Nature conservancy, and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.
The Student Conservation Association is a great place to volunteer. Every year, it places about 2,500 students and adults in nature volunteering positions with the government. You may work in wildlife conservation, updating trail conditions boards, monitoring water quality, and lots of other things. Positions usually last about three months at 40 hours per week and you must be in high school or college. The benefits are great too. No costs, college credit, financial aid, stipends, and you usually don’t even need any experience.
The Nature Conservancy’s goal is to identify, acquire, and protect threatened habitats. Its whole structure is based on volunteers. It’s worked this way since 1951. Now as a volunteer, you may be involved in anything from aerial photography to exotic plant species control to desktop publishing to public speaker. The opportunities are awesome.
The Appalachian Trail Conservancy overlooks the 2,135-mile long Appalachian Trail that traverses 14 states. As a volunteer you’ll either be a trail crew member, who maintains trails and educate hikers or you’ll be a ridge runner, who hikes the busiest sections of the trail to note the numbers and types of hikers, but also to lend a helping hand.
There are so many exciting volunteer opportunities available that it may be hard to decide what you want to do. The most important thing when volunteering is to go into whatever you do with a positive attitude and have fun. You’re outdoors how couldn’t you?