National Forest Foundation

Learning Topics

Volunteering on National Forests

Many organizations depend on volunteers to accomplish their on-the-ground projects. Managing and working with volunteers is a key way that many organizations interact with their communities, and with the Forest Service. The National Forest Foundation aims to support partner organizations in their work with volunteers.

Not finding what you need? Visit our Collaboration Tools Search to see all tools and resources.


Selected Tools & Resources

Volunteer program management - Acknowledgment of Risks
This example, provided by the Wilderness Institute at the University of Montana, shows what an "acknowledgement of risks" form for volunteers might look like.

Agreement for Non-reimbursed Volunteer Services
This agreement example outlines the relationship between volunteers and an organization (the Wilderness Institute at the University of Montana).

Tracking in-kind contributions and volunteer time
This tool will help you recognize the value of in-kind, or non-cash contributions and donations to your organization or collaborative.

Getting the Work Done - Employee versus Contractor?
Both nonprofit organizations with staff and those that are all‐volunteer periodically face the issue of reorganizing their human resources to adjust to new challenges and increase effectiveness. This document outlines considerations to make when hiring a staff person or contractor.

Ideas for Recruiting Volunteers
A two-page summary with ideas for recruiting volunteers.

Experiences from the Field: Embedded Volunteer Managers Summary and Lessons
The Forest Service relies on volunteer efforts to accomplish much of its critical work. Attracting and managing volunteers, however, is a complex and time-consuming task. Forest Service staff, already balancing multiple duties, can rarely dedicate the necessary time to building the relationships and managing the details of a robust volunteer program. One strategy for addressing this need is to employ an embedded volunteer manager.

Selected Peer Learning Sessions

Innovative Volunteer Agreements (September 28, 2016)
In this session you'll learn about different types of agreements for volunteering on National Forest System lands. Experienced speakers from the Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards, Selway-Bitterroot Frank Church Foundation, and Appalachian Trail Conservancy will discuss their creative approaches.

Exploring Successful Volunteer Models (September 27, 2016)
During this session, you'll learn about unique volunteer models from the Ozark Trail Association, Washington Trails Association, and Ventana Wilderness Alliance. You’ll hear about the “nuts and bolts” of each program’s development and success over time.

Experiences from the Field: Embedded Volunteer Managers (May 6, 2016)
This peer learning session was a forum to learn about and discuss volunteer management experiences with a particular focus on volunteer managers/coordinators embedded within a Forest Service unit. Speakers summarized lessons and advice to benefit others who may manage similar programs in the future. This peer learning session is part of a growing body of knowledge, or a knowledge hub, the NFF is developing around volunteering on National Forest System lands.

Volunteer Engagement & Management (September 14, 2014)
Volunteers are invaluable to the mission of the Forest Service, supporting and motivating the agency’s staff and partners. Volunteerism is also responsible for an increasing amount of on-the-ground project accomplishment. In this peer learning session, led by National Volunteers & Service Specialist Nancy Coyote and White Mountain National Forest Trails Manager Cristin Bailey, participants learned about best practices for recruiting and managing volunteers. Presenters also shared the nuts and bolts of forming a volunteer agreement.

Working with Volunteers: Best Practices (November 17, 2011)
Working with volunteers for conservation is a crucial component of what many of our nonprofit, collaborative and agency partners do. In this session, Keagan Zoellner with the Bob Marshall Wilderness Foundation shared volunteer recruitment and retention strategies; Alex DeLucia with the Appalachian Mountain Club shared his knowledge of the practical and legal aspects of training and working with volunteers; and Jim Shaklee with the Poudre Wilderness Volunteers shared an online web portal volunteer scheduling and reporting tool.

To stay up-to-date on upcoming peer learning sessions and collaboration news, sign-up for our email list.