April is National Volunteer Month, a nationwide celebration of community volunteers as well as a call for advocacy and volunteerism for the next generation. Though stewardship should last throughout the year, we’d like to highlight specific opportunities happening in the Northeast for you to explore—but these are just a few of the boundless service opportunities available.

1. Become a Steward

Consider volunteering for the White Mountain National Forest by becoming a trailhead and/or backcountry steward, two vital resources especially in the peak seasons. In these positions, volunteers interact with hikers at busy trailheads and in the backcountry to promote safety and protection of public lands by sharing Leave No Trace, safety, and weather information. Training is provided, opportunities are year-round, and you can set your own schedule. Another option is Adopting a Trail, where you conduct basic maintenance on designated WMNF trails using hand tools. These are just a few of many ways to get involved, so fill out the Volunteer Interest Form to see what might be a best fit for you. The Adirondack Mountain Club also has a steward program— Read up on what it’s like to be a Summit Steward here.

An Adopt-A-Trail Volunteer performing trail maintenance. | Courtesy: U.S. Forest Service: WMNF

2. Find an Event

Cleanups and community events are constantly happening in the Northeast.  For starters, American Hiking Society’s National Trails Day happens every first Saturday in June, where you can participate in a trail clean-up or event, host one of your own, and/or take the AHS National Trails Day Pledge.  The White Mountain Trail Collective also has several projects slated for 2022— Learn more about their mission here. The Southeast New England Climbers Coalition recently did a crag cleanup at Quincy Quarries, so keep your eye out for the next one. If you are a a climber local to eastern Massachusetts, southern New Hampshire, or Rhode Island who wants to be an active leader in preserving your local climbing climbing area, check out their volunteer page. New York, The Adirondack Mountain Club also has Trail Projects coming up in June and August that you can join in on as well as a 100 Mile Fundraising Challenge to celebrate their 100th year. Two more fun challenges coming up in June include Camp Casco’s Trail Blazer program, where you can hike anywhere in honor of National National Cancer Survivors Day on June 4th or 5th to fundraise for the camp, as well as the Alzheimer Association’s 48 Peaks challenge happening throughout the month of June.

For July, the annual Seek the Peak fundraiser for the Mount Washington Observatory is sure to be another fun one—register, name your adventure, raise vital funds for the Observatory, then celebrate with outdoor enthusiasts at the Expo with live music, food trucks, and more. Events like these are both fun and immensely helpful in raising crucial funds and awareness. Find something happening near you!

2021 Camp Casco fundraising hike. | Courtesy: Camp Casco

3. Volunteer Vacations

The American Hiking Society’s Volunteer Vacations are back after a pandemic hiatus. These nationwide adventure service trips, occurring this month through the fall, are a great way to be outside, be of service, and be the in the company of others doing awesome things. The week-long trips involve 30 to 40 hours of physical labor during the week, and projects are rated from ‘easy’ to ‘very strenuous’. Note: There is a cost to these trips. College students and young professionals, check out Alternative Break opportunities.

4. Membership

Becoming a member of organizations like Leave No Trace is another way to support the operating costs and project funding that maintain the protection of our much-loved spaces. This may not be active volunteering, but it is absolutely a form of stewardship when you donate what you’re able to the clubs doing the work. You can also enjoy membership perks, like up to 20 percent off AMC lodging when you join the Appalachian Mountain Club.

5. Get Creative

Don’t want to get your hands dirty? There are virtual ways to help non-profits (more so now than ever). Catchafire is a volunteer platform where you can donate your time and expertise in the comfort of your own home. It uses a skills-based volunteer match approach, so you can help non-profits in a field of interest with projects they may lack funding for. Do everything from video editing for a land trust to a food co-op social audit—If you have a professional background in analytics, marketing, media, IT, design, or business, this platform is for you, plus you can track your monetary impact with these projects to see just how far your time goes.

If you don’t have the time but do have the resources, there are many non-profits seeking both monetary and in-kind donations, such as youth development programs like Teens to Trails and Gear Forward.

As Volunteer Month winds to a close, giving back shouldn’t. There are so many memberships, events, and opportunities for advocacy to take part in all year long. Please share this with others, and let us know about more volunteer opportunities and non-profits below.