Over 1.8 million nonprofits and charities for donors, volunteers and funders

2019 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Wilderness Volunteers: Giving Something Back

1,666 pageviews

Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Environment, Recreation & Sports, Sports

Mission: Our Mission is stewardship of America's wild lands through organizing and promoting volunteer service. We set up trips with the National Park Service, National Forest Service, US Fish & Wildlife, and others to improve trails, revegetate areas, remove invasive species, restore overused campsites, etc...

Results: Over the course of our 20 years we've contributed more than 303,000 total hours of volunteer labor on more than 850 service projects; providing labor worth more than $7 million to our public lands.

Target demographics: maintain trails, remove invasive plants, restore campsites, rehabilitate habitat, etc.,

Direct beneficiaries per year: over 40 agencies in 16 states

Geographic areas served: Federally designated wilderness areas throughout the United States

Programs: week-long service projects in wild places

Community Stories

28 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Volunteer

Rating: 5

After participating in seven trips in the past 10 years, I can say that the mission of WV for stewardship of public lands is being done very well. Representatives of the public agencies are always grateful to have our help to maintain and improve their lands, to do important work that would otherwise not likely be done. Often the work is in remote areas where it takes several days of focused effort to complete; they can complete some of the bigger jobs that require many people.

Work I've done on these trips includes trail maintenance and upgrades, cleaning and restoring remote campsites, invasive plant eradication, and restoration of native plants. I have better appreciation of the wilderness trails and campsites that I experience when hiking, knowing what it takes to keep them in good repair, and to keep wilderness closer to its natural state.

All of this occurs in a setting of teamwork. Groups of people, who often don't know each other, come to work together. That's one of the quickest ways to get to know people, and by the end of the week there is great camaraderie and sense of accomplishment. Everyone figures out a way to contribute.

The trip leaders are critical to the success of each trip. Their training and preparation make it possible for the rest of the volunteers to enjoy the work and the wilderness experience. None of this would happen without them.

I will continue to go on trips as long as I'm able to. It's rewarding to support our public lands, a great excuse to go into the wilderness, and an opportunity to travel to interesting places that I otherwise might not go to.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My first trip with WV was to Colorado National Monument and I found the experience very personally satisfying and challenging. We worked on trail upgrades, and maintenance, which I have had the pleasure of seeing the results still visible 2 years later. Six trips later I still feel the same way about the work and the results. Giving back for all the enjoyment I have had in the National Park System is a pleasure to me.

Max Kristian G.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've been on some serious adventures with this group. If you're in the mood for giving back to our amazing public lands in this country, then sign up for one or more of the trips that they offer from sea to shining sea.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Wilderness Volunteers is a beyond exceptional organization. WV focuses on teaching wilderness principles in practice. I have enjoyed the past two projects I have served with them and look forward to continuing my service to our environment through future WV programs.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have volunteered with Wilderness Volunteers for over 20 years in Utah, Arizona, and California. Their leaders are of the highest quality, the dedication to their mission is evident in all aspects of trips, and they get a heck of a lot of work done on Public lands.
The organization practices what it preaches, Leave No Trace ethics.
They foster camaraderie on the trips and that helps groups to work together, safely, and with amazing results, in trail maintenance and repair. They work closely with the overseeing Government agency representatives in a very mutually respectful way.
I can't say enough good things about this organization.
LLB

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been participating in WV projects for more than a dozen years -- building the Continental Divide trail, maintaining trails in Saguaro National Park, preserving archeaological sites on Cedar Mesa, creating habitat for masked bobwhite quail on the border in Arizona, removing tamarisk and Russian olives and more. Each time the contributions I make to the park service, the forest service, the BLM or another agency are far outweighed by the personal growth I gain, the knowledge I receive and the friends I keep. Wilderness Volunteers is a special, low-cost way for me and hundreds of others to give back and keep some of our land protected.

Carleton S.

Client Served

Rating: 4

I have enjoyed working with WV on projects sponsored by federal land agencies such as the National Park Service and the US Forest Service. Work done by WV volunteers has been important to the agencies as it likely would not have been accomplished without the involvement of WV.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I stumbled on Wilderness Volunteers and found it a great way to contribute a week of hard work on public lands, seein credible wild lands, and build lasting friendships. WV works hard to keep the cost of participation affordable and enable the widest possible range of volunteers to participate. You learn a lot about the lands you work on. You come back again and again, even if it just means hacking more invasive trees out of ground, a great sense of camaraderie.

1 Anne B.3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Wilderness Volunteers is an organization that combines 2 valuable missions: providing physical resources for the maintenance and protection of treasured national resources and the education and promotion of their value. The experiences they provide not only add services where funds are not otherwise available but inspire those involved to return home and act as advocates and share their knowledge and enthusiasm to help protect and promote these environmental gems.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

"Why would you spend a week of your vacation doing work in the wilderness, and have to pay for doing it?"
My wife and I heard this question from our friends and family in the first few years that we served on a WV team. Part of the answer is in the name: "Giving Something Back". We are avid hikers and campers and had previously taken for granted the trails that lead us to the beautiful scenery that make lifetime memories. Until we stumbled across WV 15 years ago. Wow, what a great opportunity to make a "give back" impact with a team of just 10 or 12 like-minded folks. We have averaged about 1 project per year.
Another part of the answer is leadership. The 2 volunteer leaders for each trip have been, in almost all cases, just wonderful people who have been well prepared to help the team have a safe experience with great grub to boot.
Finally, the other volunteers: people from all walks of life from all over this great country who unselfishly serve the greater good.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have volunteered on two different Wilderness Volunteers trips and had an incredible time on both trips! Each of the trips was a week long, but one took place at Cumberland Island National Seashore, and the other in Moab, Utah.

The guides were exceptionally well-prepared for leading the group both in service work and in general camping activities. The WV leaders also paid close and personal attention to food specifications of group members (allergy, vegan, gluten-free), while planning great meals and snacks for the week.

WV makes sure to teach about Leave No Trace and it's purpose, history/ information of the service area, and about each other! I would (and have) definitely recommend any WV trip as I'm sure it would provide an incredible experience!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have participated in over 10 Wilderness Volunteer trips in over six states. Each one has allowed me to learn more about our public lands and assist in maintaining them for all to visit. From building trails, removing invasive plants, and improving habitat, I've had the opportunity to learn more about the challenges of maintaining our parks and wilderness areas and appreciate them even more. Wilderness Volunteers provides support for all who enjoy exploring our public lands and for all who enjoy helping to preserve and maintain them.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I went on a trip with Wilderness Volunteers during spring break of my sophomore year of college. It is one of the only experiences I have had that I would call life-changing. I am not much of an outdoorsy person, and to be honest I didn't really know what I was getting into when I signed up for the trip. As someone who isn't super physically fit, the trip was a challenge, but the accomplishment I felt getting up and down the canyon in Moab, UT was astounding and something I have never felt before. Knowing we had done something to help people enjoy this beautiful part of the country is something I will never, ever forget. We also worked with wonderful people from the BLM who walked us through everything and kept us safe. Lastly, I can't praise our WV leader, Lee Cooper, enough. He was one of the most amazing people I have ever met, and his attitude and leadership made the trip run smoothly. Not to mention his amazing cooking?

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've done trips with Wilderness Volunteers in the Sierra Nevada, Southern Utah, the Wind River Range in Wyoming and other western wilderness areas. The trips have always been well organized, and I've been impressed with how much work a motivated group of 10-12 can accomplish. I have gotten to visit some spectacular areas where I might not have gone on my own, and I have enjoyed the opportunity to work with and learn from our Forest Service and Park Service partners. What I have appreciated the most is the camaraderie that quickly develops when a group of people committed to giving something back make common cause. It is all too rare an experience these days, and one that keeps me coming back year after year. Wilderness Volunteers is a wonderful organization that deserves more support.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Looking forward to the opportunity to join more trips in the future with WV! I've participated in a couple trips both in Yosemite NP and Dark Canyon. I can't say enough about how much I enjoyed my experiences. The leaders were so organized and made everyone feel appreciated and part of a team. I was surprised after backpacking to a basecamp how amazing the set up was, I never imaged I'd be eating so well in the backcountry! My favorite part was the knowledgeable rangers, botanist, archeologist and other partners we worked with, I learned so much while giving back! Getting a "free day" mid-week to explore the area was a lot of fun. My experiences made great memories that will last a lifetime! I highly recommend a WV trip, it's very rewarding!

1 J-Wash

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been going on trips with Wilderness Volunteers since 2010 as both a participant and a volunteer leader. Through everything they do, it is apparent how much they are dedicated to their mission; the stewardship of America's wild lands. The groups, a bunch of strangers on day one, during the course of the week become close knit and even build long-lasting relationships long after they are back into civilization. Everyone should experience giving back in the outdoors with this fantastic organization!

1 Taylor G.4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I worked with Wilderness Volunteers during a service trip in Moab Utah. Where we worked with the BLM, to restore an old cowboy trail. It was an amazing experience and something I will never forget. It was such an amazing thing to give back to nature and to have an amazing Wilderness leaders leading our trip. Lee Cooper and John Washo, were great leaders and made the experience that much more enjoyable. Good people, great hikes, and amazing views and experiences.

1 John M.12

Volunteer

Rating: 5

WV is a volunteer organization that is exceptionally effective with donor contributions and volunteer hours. The positive impact of their week-long service trips on our public lands is both immediate and long-lasting. They are unique in their ability to make significant and sustainable contributions to the wilderness environment.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

In the last 3 years, I have done projects with Wilderness Volunteers at Zion National Park, Saguaro National Park, and Big Bear Wilderness. All the group leaders were well organized and helpful, the teams, of about 12 volunteers, were all committed to the same goal of giving back to our National Parks and wilderness areas, and were great to work with. The work was rewarding, the food was delicious, and the camping and outdoor experience was fabulous. I highly recommend Wilderness Volunteers, and look forward to my next adventure.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have spent a lifetime benefiting from our country's great public lands. As a volunteer with Wilderness Volunteers for the last decade, I have been able to give back and to make a contribution to those who will come after me. My favorite project was revegetation on the Elwha River in Washington State, following the removal of the Glines Canyon Dam. It was such a satisfying feeling to be part of something so much bigger - restoring an entire ecosystem to its natural state, enabling a rebound of the salmon population, and returning a degree of control to the native peoples.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've done about 10 trips with Wilderness Volunteers over the past 8 years. They have all been wonderful experiences in the outdoors in places I would likely not have gotten to. About half of these trips have been work on trails, from California to Colorado to the North Rim area of the Grand Canyon. The other half has been trips into a wilderness area in southeast Utah with Forest Service archeologists to survey (walk around in an organized way looking at the ground for items that are not 'natural') and record sites where prehistoric artifacts were found in an earlier survey. It has really kindled my interest in southwest US prehistory. And there is an incredible thrill to finding an artifact, documenting its characteristics and location, imagining how it might have gotten there with the help of the archeologists, and putting it back where I found it.

All the WV trips include great food, great leadership and great volunteers to work with. And they include a range of activities that allow people of different talents to contribute. A great organization that provides outstanding opportunities to give something back!

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Another great trip with WV. Spent a week in NE New Mexico in the Carson National Forest doing trail maintenance. Great leaders and a great group of people who share their love of the outdoors and wanting to give something back. Trail maintenance included removing deadfalls, removing brush from the corridor and reworking the tread. Great meals with plenty to keep you going. Second project with WV and will do again.

2

Board Member

Rating: 5

I have been going on trips with WV annually for about the past eight years and absolutely love the organization. I signed up for my first trip as a way to not only give back to our public lands, but to explore a place I normally wouldn't visit/explore on my own. What a great way to utilize local resources -- like the NPS, BLM, etc., person connected with each trip. I loved what WV was doing and felt so much passion about it that I became a leader five years ago and am a recent addition to the board of directors. I finally got my brother to come to a trip this year and he was hooked and is looking at the trips for next year already!

5

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I did a project in Alaska with Wilderness Volunteers and it was outstanding. We built a trail in the backcountry. I loved the people on the team and the week we spent working together.

8

Volunteer

Rating: 4

My wife and I have been on 2 trips with this organization, one cleaning up illegal campsites in the Sierra Nevada, and the other repairing and improving a trail in Glacier N.P. Both were well-organized and the 10 or 12 volunteers on each trip a good group of people who did a lot of good work in a short (4 days, plus 1 free day) time. Backpacked in to the Sierra, but had a USFS pack outfit bring in tools, food, and kitchen stuff, which was nice. We all took turns with camp chores (cooking, cleaning, hauling water, etc), which were organized by our volunteer leaders, so that worked out well. Liked Glacier because we hiked out to worksite everyday, but could enjoy hot showers a short walk from our campground. In both cases it was clear that the rangers we worked with were very appreciative of our volunteer assistance.

9

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Have done several trips with this organization in a few different states. Hoping to do a trip in Hawaii next! It's a great way to see new places and meet new people without the $ it would take to do it on your own. The work is hard but satisfying and at the end of the week you leave with a with a sense that you did something important to help our public lands. The trip leaders I've worked with so far have been entertaining and informative and the office staff (Dave/Debbie) have been helpful and accommodating when I've had issues.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 1

I've done several of these trips / work projects. I have been rewarded by good clean fun, hard word, and new friendships. My only complaint about this organization is the main office coodinator Deb. truly not a nice person. Truly a phony in many ways. She is the main reason why I stopped participating with WV and have decided to donate my time and energy to other ventures!

Comments ( 1 )

profile

debbie 06/06/2013

Phil, I had a great time on the project we did in the Boundary Waters. I can't imagine what I did to make you unhappy, but wish you the best with your other ventures. Debbie

8

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been going on WV trips for more than five years, first as a volunteer and now as a trip leader. They offer more than fifty projects a year across the US, including backcountry restoration, trail maintenance, invasive species removal, etc. The projects are very rewarding, in beautiful places, with interesting people, and very affordable. Oh yeah...the food is remarkably good. If you are interested in an outstanding and meaningful wilderness experience, you should check out WV.