RFOV inspires outdoor volunteerism in valley
David Hamilton, executive director of Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers, had a dream when he moved to the area in 1995.
Having worked with Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado on the Eastern Slope, he appreciated the work that was done and wanted to start a similar effort here.
He began by gathering volunteers, donations and forming partnerships with the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and similar agencies.
The first year, Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers completed four projects.
The number of volunteers varies with each project and depends on project size, type and location. The average number is approximately 50 volunteers. The Coal Seam project drew 430 volunteers, including 175 locals.
The organization’s final project of 2003 was the Colorow Trail in New Castle, and it had 60 volunteers.
For 2004, the organization has scheduled eight major projects.
The RFOV board of directors consists of five volunteer members, and three more members will be added soon. Hamilton is the organization’s only salaried employee, and Basalt High School student Rianna Robertson serves as an intern. Currently the organization boasts 350 members, who make annual donations of $25 to $1,000. Members receive newsletters, a season project announcement, and flyers to remind them of each project.
The Project Committee sends out a request for proposals in late summer for the following project season. Submissions are reviewed in September and October, and the final selection is based on several factors, including long-term value to communities, feasibility for volunteer workers to complete with available tools, and location. The committee prefers to spread the projects over the length of the Aspen-Rifle corridor.
RFOV can also provide training and lend tools.
The organization partners with landowners, BLM, the Forest Service, Pitkin County Open Space and Trails, the city of Glenwood Springs, etc. They work with the entity’s liaison and/or technical advisor from the planning phase through the project day. These organizations often provide volunteer staff to train or help out on project day.
To stay organized, keep everyone safe, and teach people the skills they need to complete the day’s tasks, each project is divided into segments, and each segment has a crew of five to seven people plus a crew leader. New crew leaders are trained at least once each year.
The crew leader training involves a weeknight meeting to review the manual, and a workday to practice skills and crew management training. Crew leaders usually participate in one or two projects before volunteering to become crew leaders.
Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers solicit donations, grants, and in-kind donations. For the Coal Seam project, the city of Glenwood Springs received a grant from the Colorado State Forest Service. For the Rio Grande Greenspace in Carbondale, in-kind donations were received from Rocky Mountain Native Plants, West Canyon Tree Farm, Planted Earth and others, as well as cash donations.
“At the end of the day, when you’re bone-tired and covered with dust and sweat, there’s nothing like hiking back along the trail you’ve just completed and sitting down to a great meal with the new friends you made that day,” said Linda Schuemaker, RFOV volunteer. “And knowing that years from now, that trail will still be there.”
Kay Vasilakis’ “Nonprofit Spotlight” column appears every other Monday. For news tips please call 984-2308.
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