The Value of Volunteers

The Value of Volunteers

Ever since our start 35 years ago, we have relied on the dedicated volunteers who give their time, effort and passion towards protecting the lands we all love here in Whatcom County. While everyday could be considered ‘volunteer appreciation day’ at Whatcom Land Trust, we are dedicating the month of March to say thank you to all of our volunteers who make what we do possible.

Field Friday group at Duck Pond

Much of our annual budget goes towards permanently protecting special places throughout Whatcom County mainly by acquiring property and purchasing conservation easements. But what happens after the land has been secured? Depending on the property, there is often a need for clean-up or restoration, ongoing monitoring, and invasive species elimination and mitigation. This ongoing stewardship is where we rely on our Land Trust stewardship team and the hundreds of volunteers they work with all year long.

The Land Trust protects more than 24,000 acres in Whatcom County and with a Stewardship staff of just three, Jennifer Mackey, Stewardship Director, Anya Gedrath-Smith, Conservation Specialist, and Rose Richardson, Stewardship Associate, the work is never done. Volunteer Land Stewards play a large role in keeping an eye on Whatcom Land Trust owned properties throughout the year. With more than 90 Volunteer Land Stewards, up about 25% from last year, the Land Trust has the ability to manage more acres than ever before.

In 2017, nearly 77 million Americans contributed to 6.9 billion volunteer hours and based on the Independent Sector’s estimate average value of a volunteer hour ($24.14), those 6.9 billion hours equate to a value of volunteer service of nearly $167 billion dollars. While these national numbers may seem large and distant, they provide insight as to how important volunteering is now and for the future of Whatcom County. Volunteers allow non-profits small and large to make an even greater impact on this place we call home.

Volunteering with the Land Trust not only helps us continually protect the Lands we all Love, but it also provides our community an opportunity to get outside, get their hands a little dirty and feel a sense of satisfaction for being a part of a healthy and prosperous Whatcom County for generations to come. Studies have shown that volunteering can help to improve mental and emotional health as well as provide people with a sense of purpose.

From getting young students out on our properties to teach them the value of stewardship to the numerous retirees who volunteer with us regularly, generations of volunteers help Whatcom Land Trust continue to uphold our mission of preserving and protecting wildlife habitat, scenic, agricultural and open space lands in Whatcom County. For this we would like to say thank you. Thank you to all of the volunteers who have and continue to work with us each and every day; we couldn’t do it without you!

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