At Wilderness Inquiry, we are fortunate to have a wide network of volunteers who help us achieve our mission of introducing the outdoors to people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds. Take a look at some of the stats from 2019:
- 25 extended trips were supported by 55 volunteer trip assistants and PCAs
- 69 volunteers contributed over 200 hours of their time during our biggest fundraiser, The Great River Race
- 250 volunteers offered their time and talents in the warehouse, paddling on school trips, or providing support during numerous community events
According to Independent Sector, a non-profit that tracks volunteerism in the US, the value of a volunteer hour is $25.43. It is estimated that about 63 million Americans volunteer approximately 8 billion hours of their time, talent, and effort to improve and strengthen their communities. (Independent Sector, April 2019.) Using the value stated above, our Wilderness Inquiry volunteers saved the organization more than a whopping $92,000 in 2019!
Who are these amazing people?
We have a wide range of volunteers at Wilderness Inquiry from high school students looking to gain hands on experience, to seniors wanting to give back with their time and talents during retirement. We have volunteers who commit to a weekly schedule (thanks Bruce and John!), some who join us out on trail to offer support, and others who see us annually at the Great River Race. All of these volunteers are critical to the success of Wilderness Inquiry.
We have one group that joins us weekly and we want to highlight all the incredible work they have done for us. Every Thursday we get a small contingent of students and staff from Metro Deaf School in St. Paul arrive at WI eager to work in our warehouse and office. They’ve cleaned out trail spice kits, raked leaves, deep cleaned our van fleet in preparation for offsite storage, untangled rope bags, sanitized and restocked dishwashing kits, and created notepads from recycled papers.
Justin Mortenson, our warehouse coordinator, works closely with the students and sees this partnership as a way to support young people as they grow into themselves. Justin describes volunteering as a way “to provide (students) with an opportunity to prove to themselves what they are capable of achieving and help push them to new heights.” He also acknowledges that he has learned a lot from the experience as well. Justin was surprised at how naturally people can communicate without having a common language. With the help of a small dry erase board there wasn’t any problem they couldn’t troubleshoot.
Students and staff from the school have also found the experience to be worthwhile. Students expressed that they were most excited about learning how to work as a team and gaining on site skills. They noted that they are already looking forward to volunteering with us in the upcoming semester.
How can you get involved?
Wilderness Inquiry is always looking for new faces to work on new projects. From auditing the website to assist participants on trips. The first step you can make is to contact Anne Strootman, the Registration and Volunteer Manager. She is open to meeting in person or chatting over the phone to discuss what projects you both view would be the best fit. After a short application process, you then can start signing up for opportunities on the volunteer section of the website (www.wildernessinquiry.org/volunteer). It’s that easy!