http://sc.org/bestintern Izzy and Daniel headed to the Mission Wolf sanctuary as part of the Best Internship on Earth with kids from Boulder and got very up close and personal with the pack. The trip was part of Sierra Club's Inner City Outings, a community outreach program that provides opportunities for urban youth and adults to explore, enjoy, and protect the natural world.
The Boulder Valley ICO program is made possible by its volunteers who give generously of their time and skills.
Boulder Valley ICO enables outdoor-loving adults to volunteer and share their appreciation of, and enthusiasm for, natural and wild places with underserved youth. The truth is, as a volunteer, you may get to go places where you otherwise wouldn't! At the same time, you will boost your leadership skills, expand your network, and connect with your community. There are also many opportunities to help apart from outings. We consistently need help with managing gear, fundraising, coordinating volunteers, website development, youth recruitment, and more. Keep reading for more information.
We welcome new volunteers throughout the year.
Importantly, we will often begin reviewing your volunteer application only after you have created a volunteer profile on our website and signed up for your first outing with us. If you submit a volunteer application but don't hear from us, it is not because we have not or will not approve your volunteer application, but because there hasn't yet been an event that has triggered our review. In addition, our trip leaders will depend on you to participate when you have signed up for an outing; though we understand that external factors can sometimes force a change in plans, we discourage "volunteers" who lack the true intention and/or ability to actually attend the outings for which they have signed up and who, therefore, cannot be counted upon to reliably follow through on their volunteer commitment.
Expectations & Commitment
Volunteers are expected to:
- Make an initial one-year commitment upon joining
- Volunteer at least 5 days per year. Click on the title of the outing and use the links on the right to sign up, drive, organize, etc.
- Once signed up for an outing, be responsive to the trip organizer in their outing-related communications. Cancel participation only if absolutely necessary, communicating in a timely fashion with the trip organizer, and taking care to un-signup on the website (using the links found where you signed up). We encourage you to add outings to your personal calendar so that you don't forget.
- Participate in at least 1 or 2 of our occasional in-person volunteer events or parties per year
- Participate in a conference call at least every six months (the regular conference call is on the first Thursday of each month).
- During the second year, it is strongly encouraged to complete steps towards becoming a certified leader.
- After 6 months of involvement, contribute to administrative, fundraising or other tasks as needed (See the list of non-outing volunteer opportunities below)
While on occasion trips have special needs and volunteers sign-up just to take part in one particular trip, we are really looking for people who will volunteer on an ongoing basis for events throughout the year.
College Students: We note that college students are welcome in our program but we want to be sure that you have both the intention and the ability to participate in our program before we spend the money and time to process your volunteer application. Accordingly, we will not process your volunteer application until you have signed up for at least one outing. Our records will show you as a volunteer in good standing with the program only after you have attended one outing and so long as you meet the expectations and commitment standards described above. Please consider your ability to meet these standards before you submit a volunteer application, and please be sure that you can/will attend an outing before you sign up. This measure of reliability helps substantially in planning our outings. The kids in our program are depending on us, so we need to be able to depend on you. If you cancel participation or don't show up, we may have to cancel the trip or send some of the kids home. We reserve the right to cancel the accounts of those who make a habit of unreliability.
Qualifications for all Volunteers
Volunteers are also called assistant leaders and may fully participate in outings provided that a certified leader is present. Volunteers assist with tasks such as planning menus and buying food, facilitating group games and discussion, helping kids to get outfitted and sign out gear, driving, and route planning. We expect volunteers to eventually organize trips of their own.
- Fill out the Volunteer Application online.
- Complete the Code of Ethics and Volunteer Agreement and bring the signed documents on your first ICO event.
- Complete the interview process for yourself and the personal references that you provided. Please make sure that you and your references are available and responsive so that this process may be completed in a timely fashion. Our Volunteer Coordinator will contact you and your references to conduct these interviews.
- Pass a criminal background check every four years. After submitting your initial application, you will receive instructions to complete your first background check online.
- Possess skills appropriate for the activities of the trip.
- Be at least 18 years old.
- If driving youth on an outing, you must have a clean driving record and pass a driving record check every four years.
- Sierra Club membership. This provides liability insurance during outings (but not motor vehicle insurance). The online membership page is here.
Qualifications to lead Trips
Our trip leaders are called Certified Leaders. A certified leader must be present on every outing. He she need not assume all of the organizational responsibilities for the trip. In fact, each trip has a designated principal organizer who may be a certified leader or just a volunteer. We strongly encourage all volunteers to complete the necessary steps for certification. These requirements are consistent with those of the national Sierra Club Outings program of which Boulder Valley ICO is a part.
Certified leaders meet the above qualifications for Volunteers plus:
- Current certification in basic first aid or higher. Wilderness First Aid is recommended and ICO can reimburse up to $185.00 of the cost of the course. CPR training is also encouraged.
- Complete the Sierra Club Outdoor Leadership Training (OLT) courses 101 (for daytrips) and 201 (for overnight outings away from vehicles). Sometimes these classes are combined into one training. Refresher training (possible to complete by online self-study) is required every four years.
- Complete the Child Abuse Recognition and Prevention (CARP) training annually. Often the initial training is part of OLT 101/201 courses. Subsequent training can be completed each year with a fast online course.
- Be an assistant leader/volunteer for at least two trips. For the first trip, assist a certified leader with planning and running the trip. For the second trip, take on the main planning and leadership responsibilities for the trip under the guidance of a different certified leader. Current certified leaders will assist leaders-in-training with the logistics of the trip, and then evaluate and discuss the trainee's strengths and weaknesses. Two such evaluations should be completed by two different certified leaders. For certification to lead overnight trips away from vehicles, one of these training trips should be a trip away from vehicles.
- Obtain approval as a certified leader by vote of the Boulder Valley ICO Steering Committee.
Other ways to be Involved outside of outings
To be a valuable asset to ICO, volunteers need not participate in tons of outings. There is a lot of work to be done behind the scenes. If you are interested in serving in any of these capacities, you will be able to indicate your interest on the registration form when you sign up for an account on this website. Or, you may contact us. You should still complete the volunteer application documents.
- Volunteer Coordinator (conduct interviews of prospective volunteers and their references, follow-up with prospective volunteers)
- Fundraising (grant writing, engage potential foundation and business sponsors)
- Gear manager (maintain & organize our gear depot, keep track of inventory, administer gear check-out, research & buy new gear)
- Web development (maintain and improve the website)
- Web content editor (keep the site up-to-date by editing or adding content to the website)
- Volunteer trainer (conduct volunteer leadership trainings)
- Publicity + Social (develop and distribute promotional materials; attend volunteer fairs or corporate outreach events to entrain new volunteers; manage social media and posting to VolunteerMatch and similar resources)
- Strategy & Governance (participate in monthly conference calls where ICO business is discussed and decisions are made)
- Financial Support (any financial support, large or small, is always welcome)
- Youth Recruitment (help agencies recruit and sign kids up for trips)
Housekeeping & Communication
Good communication amongst volunteers is an important aspect of planning successful outings.
To stay "in the loop," please:
- Create an account on this website. You may do this before your volunteer application is approved. An account will enable you to sign up for trips.
- Join the Boulder ICO Volunteers Google groups email list. This list is used to announce upcoming volunteer opportunities and other ICO business. When new trips or other events are added to this website, an email invitation is automatically sent to members of this list.
- Be resonsive to emails and/or phone calls from the trip organizer.
- Communciate with the trip organizer in a timely fashion if your plans change and take care to un-signup on the website using the links that are found in the same place on the website where you signed up.
Externships and Graduate Work with Boulder ICO
Boulder Valley ICO offers externships to college and graduate students. We will also partner with graduate students working on dissertations relating to outdoor education. more information >>