OSM/VISTA Patrick Smith with the Town of Lebanon Project partnered with probationers to clean illegal dump sites around Lebanon, VA. This method of engaging probationers as volunteers served as a model in the Volunteers for Rural Watersheds Research Project.
Since 2008, the OSM/VISTA Teams conducted the "Volunteers for Rural Watersheds" Research Project, funded by the EPA Office of Wetlands, Oceans and Watersheds. Our research has been transformed into the Toolkit for Working with Rural Volunteers available at www.RuralVolunteer.org.
You will find three basic sections, each of which can provide significant insight and ideas for rural volunteers. The first contains results from the extensive survey of the volunteers themselves— learn just who our rural volunteers are, what they do, where they associate and how best they can be reached.
The second section summarizes the 25 different volunteer practices. We first identified practices that were working well in a rural community, transplanted those practices to 50 other places, and then watched them for a year to see how they worked in a different context. This section is an invaluable “good idea catalogue,” a collection of approaches to volunteer management that have been tested and documented.
Third, we’ve created a dozen worksheets, templates and checklists that any small community will find useful as they begin a project or as they carry that project out to success.
You are not likely to find more useful, tested information for rural community volunteers. We’re proud of the great work done to bring this idea to a useful reality and deliver a useful product, not just now but for years to come.
Check out the Toolkit for Working with Rural Volunteers Project Brief
Read Volunteers for Rural Watersheds Research Report for complete research findings.
Examples of trial practice case studies include:
Holding a 5k race- Friends of the Lower Muskingum River, Ohio
The Friends of Lower Muskingum River (FLMR) in Marietta, OH, organized and held their first Earth Day 5k: Run/Walk for the River last year. The event took several months of planning but their hard work paid off. The Earth Day 5k was FLMR’s largest event this year with 131 participants and 50 volunteers. Almost all participants in the Earth Day 5k had never been involved in a FLMR event before, which demonstrates that a 5k can be an effective way of reaching new people in a community. After the event was completed, FLMR created a how-to guide explaining how to coordinate this type of event in the future.
Partnering with student athletes- George's Creek Watershed Association, Maryland
Many communities have a college or university within their boundaries. By volunteering with a local watershed group, students can easily connect the campus to the community while addressing environmental issues. In partnership with the Appalachian Regional Reforestation Initiative, George’s Creek Watershed Association (GCWA) in Barton, MD, was able to recruit the Frostburg State University football team to help an AmeriCorps NCCC crew plant trees on reclaimed mine lands. Twenty student athletes and five coaches helped plant about 4,000 native hardwood trees on seven acres of reclaimed mine land. The team had a great time and their head coach expressed interest in helping GCWA again in the future.
Video funded by the Norcross Wildlife Foundation