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Get Involved

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. 

Upcoming Volunteer Events

National Public Lands Day – Unaka Mountain Wilderness

What: Trail maintenance & debris collection
When: September 25th, 9am-1pm

Where: Meet at Rock Creek Campground. Click here for directions. We’ll work on Rock Creek Trail, a trailhead that starts inside the campground.
County: Unicoi

Trail Mileage: 1.5 miles (3 miles round trip)
Contact: katedevarona@wildernessstewards.org to register


We’ll meet in the Rock Creek Campground parking lot for greetings, sign-in, and stretch circle. We’ll all walk to the trailhead together. SAWS will provide tools, extra personal protective equipment, a discussion on safety, and refreshments after the work day. Kate has two small kids at home, so she’ll probably mask up. 

Join us on National Public Lands Day, September 25th, to steward Unaka Mountain Wilderness’ favorite Rock Creek Trail! This popular mile-and-a-half trail (3 miles round trip) is a moderate to easy hike with four creek crossings that are easily rock hopped. The trail begins inside Rock Creek Campground and ends at the beautiful Rock Creek Falls. The day will consist of trail corridor brushing with loppers, delimbing the corridor with hand saws, cleaning up trash and debris, as well as dismantling any fire rings we encounter along the way. Expect to hike, breath fresh air, enjoy nature, and steward some beautiful, wild public land.

Be sure to plan ahead and prepare. Bring a backpack with plenty of water, personal snacks and wear comfortable clothing to work in. We recommend long pants and closed-toed shoes. Bring an extra layer for bugs or wind. Pack items that may make your day in the field more enjoyable such as a hat, sunscreen, bug spray, sunglasses, layers, hand sanitizer, extra socks, rain gear, personal first aid kit, etc. Bring any personal protective gear you may own such as mask, gloves, eye protection, or hard hats. SAWS will provide tools, extra personal protective equipment, safety circle, refreshments after the event, smiles, and fun!

Reach out to Kaitlin de Varona at katedevarona@wildernessstewards.org if you would like to sign up or if you have any questions.


The event is capped at 9 volunteers. We are SO excited to get out in the field with you!


Rock Creek Falls in Unaka Mountain Wilderness

Connecting Virtually

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 saws@wildernessstewards.org to discuss options.  

Individual Stewardship

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 and to follow Leave No Trace principles, and being an active part of making the outdoors safe, accessible and welcoming for people of all identities and abilities.