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Successfully maintaining a base of volunteers depends on volunteers seeing the value of their work and feeling appreciated. Tailoring a volunteer’s skill set and interests to the job you assign them makes the experience more productive and fun. It’s also important to request volunteers to help only when you’re sure where they’ll be needed. Volunteers with no task can leave feeling unsatisfied and unappreciated, and often aren’t likely to help again. With planning, it’s possible to find plenty of opportunities for volunteer help to assist with your project.
Water quality monitoring using the Hoosier Riverwatch protocol is a common watershed activity. Collecting Hoosier Riverwatch data can help show trends and an excellent way to connect volunteers to their watershed. Since data is being collected, it’s important to entrust this task to responsible volunteers.
Best Management Practice (BMP) installation, particularly vegetated BMPs like swales and rain gardens, also make excellent volunteer opportunities. Section 319 groups have advertized BMP installations as opportunities for garden groups to learn about native species and environmentally-friendly gardening. Consider involving the landowner in the installation of their BMP; this not only provides additional participation, but also helps promote ownership of the BMP.
Another way to utilize volunteers is to host a rain barrel workshop. Participants can construct barrels for the watershed group to sell, in exchange for a free barrel to take home and use. These types of targeted opportunities usually drum up volunteers that are happy to help.
Another task for volunteers is storm drain marking. Storm drain markers are intended to keep the public from dumping waste into drains. Many municipalities mark drains as part of their federally mandated storm water program, but Section 319 groups can’t use their grant funds to help with that effort. Read Section 319’s MS4/319 Guidance to learn when it’s appropriate to assist with drain marking efforts.