The value of volunteers

Conservation Volunteers selfie (Photo by NCC)

Conservation Volunteers selfie (Photo by NCC)

December 5, 2017 | by Kailey Setter

How do you measure the value of a volunteer? At the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC), volunteers contribute their time, skills and passion toward our mission of conserving natural landscapes. They help us save money and achieve more with less. They breathe life into challenging work projects and inspire others to give their time as well.

In recognition of International Volunteer Day, designated by the United Nations and celebrated every year on December 5, we want to share a few of the ways volunteers bring value to our organization. Some might even surprise you!

Volunteers help us accomplish more for less

In 2017, Conservation Volunteers helped us complete 198 work projects on the ground, providing almost $1 million in cost savings to our organization. These projects included everything from weed pulls to shoreline cleanups and waterfowl surveys. Without the support of volunteers, NCC would be hard-pressed to achieve the same number of stewardship deliverables on the ground.

Volunteers bring new ideas and skills

Employee volunteers create fence visibility clips (Photo by Nexen Energy ULC)

Employee volunteers create fence visibility clips (Photo by Nexen Energy ULC)

In 2016, a group of volunteers joined NCC staff in Calgary to create vinyl fence clips, which are used to improve the visibility of fence wires in the grasslands to the benefit of species such as pronghorn and sage grouse. Over the course of the event, one volunteer ― an engineer ― not only brought his enthusiasm to the activity, he brought his unique skillset. In no time, he had found a more efficient way to construct the clips, allowing the group to do more and reduce the amount of material wasted.

This is just one of many examples where volunteers have applied their skills and come up with innovative approaches that have improved how we do our work.

Volunteers boost morale

Sandy Point beach sweep, Newfoundland (Photo by Aiden Mahoney)

Sandy Point beach sweep, Newfoundland (Photo by Aiden Mahoney)

You might be surprised to find out that volunteers play a huge role in boosting morale at NCC. Staff are passionate about the work they do, but some projects on the ground require long-term commitment, dedication and a healthy dose of optimism. Restoring habitat, for example, can take years of work.

When Conservation Volunteers join us to tackle these projects, they infuse them with enthusiasm. Their willingness to jump in to even the most challenging projects inspires us all and reminds us that what we’re doing is worthwhile. Their positive energy is contagious.

Volunteers share our work and inspire others to get involved

Finally, and perhaps most wonderfully, volunteers are incredible ambassadors for nature and the work we do at NCC. One in five of our Conservation Volunteers hears about the program through word of mouth. Volunteers are responsible for almost one quarter of our volunteer recruitment. By sharing their experiences with friends, family and coworkers and talking about our work with others, volunteers share their passion and inspire others to get involved.

If you would like to join our volunteer team, check out our calendar of events at The winter months are a quieter time for volunteer activities, but we’ll be back to hosting weekly events again in April!

Kailey Setter

About the Author

Kailey Setter is the national manager of conservation engagement at the Nature Conservancy of Canada.

Read more about Kailey Setter.

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