Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards thrives with the help of our volunteer base to achieve our goals. By engaging volunteers, providing skills-based training, and working in the field with people who give generously of their time and skill to help care for our wild places, we are growing the stewardship community and accomplishing our goal of protection through connection.
SAWS hosts volunteer days, supports partner volunteer events, and provides volunteer training throughout the year. Our field crews and Naval Academy crews engage volunteers in the field, and we participate in or host Women’s A.T. Work Days, events on National Trails Day and National Public Lands Day, and community volunteer days across our bootprint. We also host crosscut saw and other skills-based trainings for partners and volunteers, and we work with colleges, universities, and Forest Service Job Corps centers to support student service-learning and volunteer days.
In-Person Volunteering: 2020 Update
2020 has not been a normal year for volunteer activities. We are grateful that in January 2020, we had the opportunity to join other volunteers working with the Forest Service to help repair damage to the Trail of Tears. We have also been able to work occasionally with individual volunteers in the field, and were able to virtually support volunteers who attended our 2020 Wilderness Skills Institute.
Most of our volunteer activities, though, have been impacted by the pandemic. With our priority on keeping our staff, volunteers, partners and the communities we work in safe, we’ve had to adjust our planned field operations and postpone in-person group volunteer activities. We will be working over the winter to build new volunteer policies and procedures based on our successful field crew policies, in anticipation of a possible return to volunteer activities in the spring of 2021.
If you are interested in joining group volunteer trainings and events with SAWS, please check this page again in the spring: we will post an update about our 2021 activities, and plan to create a calendar of events when things are up and running. You can also contact us anytime at if you are interested in learning more about individual volunteer opportunities.
We are interested in talking with you about how we might work together virtually! Whether it’s one of our Wilderness Rangers presenting to your group or classroom on Zoom to talk about Wilderness 101 or Leave No Trace recreation, or scheduling a virtual meeting to discuss a potential partnership, please let us know how we can support your work. Email us at email@example.com to discuss options.
There are also many ways that you can become involved as an individual steward as you enjoy time in the outdoors: citizen science apps and programs are a great way to participate.
Here are some of our favorites:
Photograph plants, animals, and other organisms on your own or as part of a BioBlitz. Use the iNaturalist app or iNaturalist.org to upload your observations and add them to a global database of biodiversity to support local to global research projects.
Participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count, an annual event that gets bird watchers to count birds across the continent and then tallies the highest number of birds of each species seen together at one time.
Be a visibility volunteer for the Appalachian Mountain Club. If you live or hike in states from Maine to Virginia, you can take photographs from a mountain view to help scientists study air quality and haze pollution.
Survey frog and toad populations in your area by participating in the North American Amphibian Monitoring Program, which will teach you how to identify frogs and toads by their calls.
Monitor the timing of plant flowering in the Appalachian Mountains as you hike trails. The Appalachian Mountain Club will use the data as part of a study to understand how changes in climate are affecting mountain flora.
Help find, map and prevent invasive species in America's wilderness areas, wild rivers, and other natural areas by becoming a Wild Spotter™ citizen scientist volunteer. Download the mobile app before your next hike!!
As always, we encourage you to #recreateresponsibly, including practicing social distancing, using Leave No Trace principles, and being an active part of making the outdoors safe, accessible and welcoming for people of all identities and abilities.