There’s always that point in an Upper Valley winter when you are gripped with a dreadful possibility—spring will never come! There’s just too much snow, too much cold, too much ice, for spring to ever find its way home. The crocuses and daffodils don’t stand a chance.
credit: Upper Valley Trails Alliance
But then one fine day, you spot a little spike of green, or a flash of purple, in an otherwise bleak landscape, and your faith in spring is renewed. It will come! And you can hardly wait to step outside without layer upon layer of protective clothing.
How great would it be to celebrate the return of spring and your love of the outdoors with a volunteer opportunity that combines the best of both worlds? Turns out there are numerous ways to give back to your community by volunteering with nonprofit organizations that maintain trails and outdoor areas in the Upper Valley.
We will list a few volunteer possibilities below. In general, however, if there’s an outdoor area that you love, there’s a good chance you can lend a hand in keeping that place open and accessible to the public.
- Upper Valley Trails Alliance. We have mentioned the UVTA before, and for good reason. The UVTA does an outstanding job promoting healthy outdoor activities for all age groups and for all ability levels through all four seasons of the year. True to their name, they maintain a network of local trails, and they surely need help maintaining these outdoor treasures. But there are many other ways to be involved! From assisting with annual events to becoming a trained trail surveyor to working with high school students to updating the database, there are plenty of ways to be a useful member of the organization!
- Local Snowmobile Clubs. We’ve mentioned your local snowmobiles clubs in the past, too, and also for good reason. Even if you have never ridden a snowmobile and have no intention of ever riding a snowmobile, these clubs—and there are literally dozens of them in New Hampshire and Vermont—play an outsized role in creating and maintaining a vast network of trails that every outdoor enthusiast can enjoy totally for free. If you appreciate a family friendly organization and like to work outside, check the New Hampshire Snowmobile Association and the Vermont Association of Snow Travelers for a club near you.
- Local Lakes. Lakes are the jewels in the crown of the Upper Valley, but it’s easy to forget that they need our help if they are to remain sparkling gems of clear water for generations to come. If you live near a lake, there’s a very good chance that a nonprofit organization has formed around that lake with a mission to protect its environment and promote safe and responsible use of the lake. The Mascoma Lake Association is just one example. The MLA needs volunteer weed watchers to check the spread of milfoil. They need certified scuba divers, and loon census takers, and water testers, and all hands on deck for an annual lake clean up day. And Mascoma Lake is not alone. Every other lake in the Upper Valley has these issues, too. Google a lake near you today!
- The Connecticut River. The valley we live in is literally defined by this magnificent river, and you can play a role in preserving and improving this historic waterway by becoming involved with the Connecticut River Joint Commission. The CRJC meets the third Monday of each month, and the issues they deal with range from improving water quality to negotiating terms for hydro dams to creating a Connecticut River byway. The CRJC wants—and needs—public involvement.
Looking for more ways to volunteer? Check out these opportunities!