It wasn’t until I began working for a non-profit that I came to realize just how important our volunteers are to make things work. Volunteers are the glue that holds the organization together. The outdoor space is no different. Without volunteers, public lands and outdoor organizations would not be there for us. That’s why it is so important to volunteer and give back to the public lands you love so much. There are numerous reasons to volunteer in the outdoors. Here are just five:
1. You get to be outside
You love to be outside anyway, right? Why not use that time to give back to your favorite parks or trails? Even if you don’t sign up for a volunteer event, simply picking up trash as you hike is a great way to give your time to help take care of the park.
Because of COVID, the last volunteer event I took part in literally just hiked a trail and picking up trash with one friend. I volunteered with The Car Camping Queen on the Buffalo National River for National Public Lands Day. I had always wanted to hike the Indian Rock House Trail and it was available to adopt for a cleanup. So basically my volunteering time was what I would be doing anyway.
Listen to the podcast about volunteer for public lands with The Car Camping Queen
2. You can make some great friends
I have met some awesome people through volunteering. Signing up to volunteer at your favorite park or trail crosses your path with others who are like-minded. Who knows, you may find your new backpacking or travel bestie. Or if you are single, you may find your soulmate. And come on, who would want to miss out on that?
3. You can help preserve the places you love
What better way to show some love in return to the places you love more than volunteering? Trails don’t build themselves and trash doesn’t remove itself. By volunteering, you help keep the place you love so much, the way you love it so much.
Think about your favorite vista or waterfall and the path you took to get there. That path was built and is maintained by volunteers. If you think the trail has gotten too crowded, then it’s even more important to volunteer to help protect it from overuse.
4. You show the decision-makers it’s worth protecting
When you take the time to volunteer, you show those who make decisions about the park, trail, river, or whatever, that it has value and is worth protecting. Things we don’t really care about collect dusk on the shelf. Something that has value is used, but something that has great value is cared for and cherished.
When you volunteer for your favorite public lands, you show the policymakers and land owners that it is cherished and valued.
5. You can pad your resume
When you spend your free time volunteering and giving back, it shows others that you care about more than yourself. Being a member of a group that helps preserve places and listing that group on your resume, shows potential employers or whoever that you care about wild spaces so much that you give up your free time to preserve them.
I have heard most people who get to work for a national park, get started as a volunteer. If you want to work in the outdoor industry, it’s also a great way to network and get your name out there. Even if you don’t work or want to work in the outdoor industry, it’s still a great way to network. Just as it’s a great way to make friends, it’s a great way to make business connections too.
The importance of volunteering
Volunteering for public lands and protecting our environment is so important. We tend to take places for granted until we realize how much work goes into maintaining them. As more and more people are beginning to enjoy the outdoors, it’s important to preserve the places we love. Not just for ourselves, but for future generations to come.