Community Agriculture Alliance: Enriching experiences of being a volunteer | SteamboatToday.com

Community Agriculture Alliance: Enriching experiences of being a volunteer

Holly Hampson/For Steamboat Pilot & Today

“Volunteering is the ultimate exercise in democracy. You vote in elections once a year, but when you volunteer, you vote every day about the kind of community you want to live in."

— Marjorie Moore

This past spring, Yampatika concluded a yearlong celebration of our 25th anniversary. It was a year of reflection, which included a reappraisal of our commitment to existing volunteers and recruiting and training new folks to support Yampatika's naturalists in the field. Like many other nonprofit organizations, we are forever indebted to the hundreds of volunteers who contribute thousands of hours to Yampatika each year.

Yampatika's environmental education programs reach nearly 20,000 youth and adults each year. Our programs provide visitors and residents with safe, enjoyable and educational outdoor activities that instill a sense of environmental stewardship. We can't do all of this without the help of volunteers.

In 2017, we had 263 volunteers who logged 2,083 hours of support. Yampatika supports volunteers with orientation and ongoing training opportunities. Did you miss our recent volunteer training and would like to know more about volunteer opportunities?

Some of the basic expectations for volunteers include the following.

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  • Being friendly, caring and able to carry on conversations with all participants.
  • Being comfortable and excited to be outside in all weather conditions and also be able to keep pace with the group.
  • Having curiosity and a willingness to learn something new each time you're supporting a program.

Sometimes talking to the public is not your thing. Yampatika also offers office, administrative and other outdoor volunteering opportunities at Legacy Ranch, where people can learn about the history, societal significance and practical aspects of sustainable living. The site is also home to our popular summer camps.

But if you do like meeting people — visitors or locals — volunteering with Yampatika might be a good fit for you. And if you also like slowing down on a hike to peer a little more closely at your surroundings, flowers, plants and trees, volunteering with us might be a good fit for you.

I started with Yampatika as a program host three years ago and found myself spending my free time combining my love of exploring the outdoors with learning. My reason for staying a volunteer remains the same today but with the added appreciation of being able to share the experience with others.

Whatever your reason for volunteering, if in the process you help one person's perspective grow larger or more vibrant, all the better.

Yampatika continues to be the only nonprofit organization that offers a continuum of educational services to children and adults ranging in age from pre-K to senior citizens in Northwest Colorado.

For more information about volunteering with Yampatika, visit yampatika.org/get-involved/volunteer.

Holly Hampson is on the Yampatika board and serves as chair of the Volunteer Committee.