Caribou Gear

Starting a volunteer group

BuffaloRCody

New member
Joined
Jun 8, 2016
Messages
28
Location
Murfreesboro, Tn
For the past 3 months or so, I have been trying to get ahold of anybody here in my home state of Tennessee to do some hands on volunteer work. I have sent emails to the TWRA (Tennessee Wildlife Resources Administration), which is the agency in Tennessee that deals with hunting and fishing, as well as the National Wild Turkey Federation, to which I am a member. I still have not heard back from anybody at the TWRA, and the NWTF referred me to my local chapter, but they are mostly concerned about how to raise money for their banquet. Frankly I am surprised how hard it is to give away free labor.

After listening to podcast episode 29 earlier this month, it got me thinking about maybe trying to start my own group that could correlate with the state wildlife agencies and get some people together to volunteer on public lands to help improve the habitats through various activities. I was thinking that if I could get a group of people, even a small group, together and do something one weekend a month that we could make a noticeable difference in our public lands. We wouldn't have to go overboard with elaborate plans, maybe just start by having trash pickups. I know where i hunt, there is a ton of trash left on or near the trails. Then from there, maybe, build some bird or duck boxes and set them out. This might seem like kind of small scale, boyscout stuff, but it would be a start and from there, we could have room for unlimited growth.

This is just an idea that has been floating around in my head for a month, and the worst that could happen is it could fail, but why not try, right? What do y'all think? I'd love to hear some input and ideas.
Thanks,
Ralph Cody
 

BuzzH

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Joined
Jan 9, 2001
Messages
14,092
Location
Laramie, WY
Great idea, and you are correct, a handful of folks can make a big difference.

Just a week or so ago, The Wyoming BHA chapter did a cleanup day on some BLM that was an absolute mess. People shoot up there and leave a big mess...TV's, 11 couches, office furniture, clay targets, bottles, cans, you name it.

We had 10 people show up and work for 4 hours, picked up 11 truck loads of trash.

A couple days ago, I got a phone call from a local Mtn bike group that thanked us for cleaning up that mess. They also offered to help us out in the future if we ever do a cleanup there, or somewhere else again.

Point being, if you aren't getting feedback, try to tie in with other groups that are doing the types of projects you're after.

I also wouldn't be afraid to march into someones office and ask them why they haven't been in touch with you. There is a ton of good work that volunteers can do, and the least they owe you is an answer.

If you don't get the answer you're after, run it further up the food chain. You'll get answers eventually.

WYBHA has done many projects like you're wanting to do in the last 4 or so years, everything from clean-up efforts, adopting trails, buck and rail fencing projects, funding and installing signs in cooperation with the USFS, donating to AccessYes, etc. etc.

Good luck, and it really doesn't take many people to make a huge difference.
 

Big Fin

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Dec 27, 2000
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15,589
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Bozeman, MT
The more I am involved in the advocacy on these issues, the more this statement rings true - "Some of the world's greatest changes are the result of a small handful of motivated people."

I would encourage you to follow that idea.
 

RobG

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Joined
Dec 10, 2010
Messages
5,433
Location
Bozeman, MT
If you lead well enough you will eventually pick up some followers.

One thing to keep in mind when approaching groups and offering your "help" is that the volunteer leadership usually has too much to do already. Saying you would like to "help" with a cleanup is hugely different than asking for helpers for a cleanup you have already organized.

That, and don't get sucked into being on the banquet committee.
 

Lv2hnt

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 23, 2001
Messages
889
Location
Gilbert, Arizona
Ralph, you took the first few steps. Things may start off a bit slowly, but your dedication will snowball. You'll definitely make a difference --- way to run with it!
 

Huntin_GI

Member
Joined
Sep 4, 2015
Messages
112
Location
Northern Front Range, CO
Buffalo Cody, not sure how active you are on social media but if you are on it, I would start with creating a group there. Even if you just create an event it's easy to to reach out to those with common interests. Best of luck. My ol stomping grounds are right outside Knoxville and I know the feeling of trying to get groups together to volunteer in the area. Best of luck.
 

quarterhorse

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Joined
Nov 3, 2011
Messages
130
Just go out on public land and clean up some trash. What are they going to do to you? Tell you not to?
 

James Riley

Banned
Joined
Jan 10, 2015
Messages
1,821
When looking for volunteers, find the busy man (or woman) in town.

As to kids, look for the poorest kids with the best grades in school.

The former were usually the latter. I'm neither. Do as I say, not as I do. :D
 

BuffaloRCody

New member
Joined
Jun 8, 2016
Messages
28
Location
Murfreesboro, Tn
Just go out on public land and clean up some trash. What are they going to do to you? Tell you not to?

The point is I want to make the trash pickup as a starting point to a bigger thing. If I correlate with the state, they can see there there is a group of people that are willing to work towards a specific goal and this can grow trust with them and this can lead to bigger and better things.
 

TrickyTross

Active member
Joined
Jun 20, 2016
Messages
301
Location
Leicester, NC
Ralph,
I think it is awesome on what you are wanting to do! 1-pointer brought up the Earth Team idea which is extremely beneficial. I share an office with the NRCS and these folks have been extremely helpful in day to day stuff and job monitoring and what not. I have said over and over to our groups around here that we need to take more ownership in what happens on public land. Trying to get the same thing going in WNC.

Another venue I would suggest is http://www.rutherfordscd.com/ which is your local Soil and Water Conservation District. They can tell you directly what it entails in order to work as an Earth Team Volunteer or some other work-service opportunities. They are my counterparts in your state, and should be happy to help or know of what needs to happen.

One more is the Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) it used to be a part of the USDA, but budget cuts led it to being axed. Now they primarily run off of grants, counties contributions, etc... But in NC they are structured to do multiple types of conservation initiatives, just last week, the one in our office facilitated a stream clean up in a historically trout river. We work with them all the time on this. They are great. Here is the link for the website to find your RC&D and whom to speak with. http://www.tnrcd.org/

I have said multiple times at many of our meetings that hunters need to be proactive in the protection of our public lands, which includes doing activities that can be seen by others to show them who we are and that we care. Too many times we sit back in the shadows and then pout the "But we pay for this", why not do both? Get dirty, help change the public perception of hunters. Good job Ralph, if you get into projects closer to East TN, shout me a holler, only a ways over the hill....
 

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