Volunteer and give back to your public lands!
Volunteers help support our public lands! Opportunities range from a single-day project to a long-term undertaking lasting for several months.
Volunteers are the heartbeat of the Forest Service. The types of work a volunteer can perform are many and varied. It is a program that has something for everyone - retirees, professionals, students, and young people, as well as service clubs and youth groups. Some volunteers work full-time for a short period of time, while others donate a few hours a day each week or contribute a one-time service. If you would like to volunteer for any of the projects listed on the linked pages in the right column or would like to speak with someone regarding volunteering in general, please don't hesitate to contact us.
The Rio Grande National Forest is a resource we all own, and volunteering is one way to take an active part of land management by being a steward of the land we all enjoy. Opportunities can range from a single-day project to a long-term undertaking lasting for several months. What captures your interest? Trail work, campground host, bird & wildlife surveys, invasive weed pulls, historic preservation, information receptionist, wilderness restoration, conservation education? There are many ways to transfer your love of the land to the management of the land.
There are multiple benefits to volunteering, such as...
Earning college credits through volunteer internships
Diversifying your job experience
Providing community service
Educating the public about natural resources
Meeting people and forming new friendships
Exercising while serving the land
Seeing new and exciting places
Volunteer Projects on the Rio Grande National Forest
To view our scheduled volunteer opportunities on the Rio Grande National Forest, visit this link.
Using the link above, you can filter through project and training opportunities based on location, work type, time commitment and more. Projects fill quickly and spots are available on a first-come first served basis. Spring projects open for registration on March 1st and summer projects open for registration on June 1st, all projects are viewable before each registration date.
Our single day volunteer projects are a great way to get involved in volunteerism here on the Forest. They are perfect for new and experienced volunteers alike, and occasionally we offer family-friendly projects. They are typically a half-day or full-day time commitment, with the occasional weekend-long project. They tend to be smaller in size and are a great way to connect with our local community of volunteers from the San Luis Valley!
Our backcountry, multiday volunteer projects are truly a one-of-a-kind wilderness experience on the Rio Grande National Forest. On each project we provide free camping, delicious meals, local brews, and the opportunity to win exciting outdoor gear during our fireside volunteer appreciation raffle! These projects are typically a weekend or weeklong time commitment. Details on all the projects, what work you’ll be doing, and a link to register can be seen at volunteer opportunities https://www.voc.org/volunteer . Many other stewardship projects all over the state are also listed on this webpage. Projects fill quickly and spots are available on a first-come first served basis.
Since 1986, Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado (VOC) has been a leading source of training programs for outdoor stewardship and leadership skills. Each year, we train hundreds of people through our Outdoor Stewardship Institute (OSI), not only to lead volunteer projects, but also to assist government agencies and stewardship organizations across the country in effective and sustainable stewardship efforts.
D.I.Y Stewardship Opportunities on the Rio Grande National Forest
Don't have time to commit to a scheduled volunteer project this season? Do you enjoy exploring the beautiful Rio Grande National Forest and want to give back while doing so? We have plenty of flexible, ongoing volunteer opportunities below. The volunteer program can provide training, equipment and more!
Campground hosts are on-site ambassadors for the Rio Grande National Forest, welcoming visitors, answering questions about the surrounding area, as well as acquainting them with campground amenities and rules. In exchange for these services, the host will receive fee-free camping in the beautiful San Luis Valley. Volunteers may be individuals or couples. A minimum of 3 days/week is required. Preference for full 4-month commitment but may consider other time frames of 6 weeks or longer.
Do you love to hike or backpack to remote, high alpine lakes? Then this is the volunteer opportunity for you! The Rio Grande National Forest is looking for a few keen and active volunteers to help us collect critical data on Wilderness air quality by collecting water samples at high alpine lakes across the RGNF this summer.
Do you spend your summer days hiking, fishing, or horseback riding on the National Forest? Volunteers can help land managers collect important data on trails, campsites and visitor use through CMC's new RIMS Mobile Application. You can report trail maintenance needs, inventory campsites, track visitor use, and more. That data goes directly to land managers so they can prioritize hot spots and deploy crews to work on trail issues.
Keep your eyes peeled as you enjoy and explore the Rio Grande National Forest. Click the link to learn more .
How to get involved:
Visit https://volunteer.voc.org for project details and to register for a project. We also have a San Luis Valley volunteer newsletter, hosted and shared by Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado. If you would like to sign up for the “Upper Rio Wind” e-newsletter, please follow this link and be sure to check the “Upper Rio Wind” box. For questions or more information about the volunteer program on the Rio Grande National Forest, contact Katie at 719-872-4028 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org