Written by Kim Morris, Project Coordinator
Volunteers come to River Keepers for many reasons. Every year, without fail, we see returning volunteers planting trees, picking up trash, and assisting at countless events. Others are one-time volunteers devoted to helping wherever whether that is for projects that allow our community to learn, sustain, or enjoy the Red River. No matter the activity, our volunteers come to support our mission to advocate for safe and sustainable use of the Red River. Something we undeniably cannot do without them and the numbers prove it.
Last year alone we worked with an incredible amount, over 2,000 people from youth to adults. With volunteer appreciation week approaching along with one of our busiest seasons of the year, we want to share five special reasons why we LOVE volunteers:
- They experiment beyond our imagination. River Keepers has been around for 29 years and dozens of our projects have improved and expanded because of creative volunteers. In 2018, two volunteers created a photo booth for us. One designed the poster, and another built a stand for it made out of pvc pipe. It is a fun addition to our fishing clinics, golf scramble, and Race the Red canoe and kayak race. Thank you, Jackie and Scott!
- Volunteers go the extra mile offering us unlimited potential. They arrive early to events before the sun is up, fill in spots last minute, and provide skills like data analysis for water quality monitoring and photography experience that captures moments by the Red River we would otherwise miss.
- Education is at the heart of what we do, and our volunteers deliver the most meaningful water education. Each year we receive touching feedback from students and teachers who attend the Red River Water Festival and last year was no different. One teacher came up to staff thanking our volunteer presenters for capturing her student’s attention, a difficult task on field trips. We are thankful for all our volunteers who make learning a fun and meaningful experience for youth.
- It is no surprise that volunteers extend our budget. With two full time staff, volunteers easily multiply our impact. In 2018, we worked with 2,150 volunteers who contributed over 4,800 hours. All of these incredible volunteers, hours, and their donations were invested to improve the Red River. Four of these volunteers were NDSU students who decided to take their class project to the next level by fundraising for a new kayak for summer rentals and excursions. An addition that allows more people to enjoy the Red!
- They interpret the value of River Keepers and the Red River to others. Our volunteers know us best and we are grateful when they take the time to share what River Keepers and the Red River means to them. Last year, youth volunteers decided to share their experience after storm drain marking streets and working on the T-shirt to Tote Project by mailing us cards. Whether volunteers tell us or others, they are the ones who prove our impact!
This is just a small sample of the reasons why we appreciate volunteers. No matter the kind of support given, thank you for making 29 years possible! Interested in volunteering, but don’t know where to start? Visit our online form to get involved: https://www.riverkeepers.org/volunteer/