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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

Public Lands Day 2022


What: Volunteer Event

We’ll be doing some light maintenance on trails in Big Laurel Branch Wilderness along the Appalachian Trail and spend the day in the fresh air. We will clear the trail of trees and cut back overgrown vegetation.


At the end of the day, we will have a cookout at the picnic area that overlooks the Little Laurel Branch Waterfall that tumbles out of the wilderness into Watauga Lake.

SAWS will provide all the good eats.

When: Sunday, September 25, 2022

Big Laurel Branch Wilderness near Elizabethton, TN  


AT Trailhead

Trail Mileage:  5-miles round trip and is easy to moderate difficulty.



 What to Bring and Wear:  

  • Pack a lunch, snacks

  • 2+ liters of water

  • daypack

  • raingear.

  • Long pants

  • Closed Toe Shoes




 Scotty Bowman scottybowman@wildernessstewards.org  for more details and to sign up for the day!   

#OptOutside with SAWS

What: Register today to beat the post-Thanksgiving crowds and #optoutside instead! We’ll be doing some light maintenance on trails in Mountain Wilderness and spend the day in the fresh air. We will likely clear trails of trees and remove overgrown vegetation.

When: Friday, November 26th at 10:00am

Where: Mountain Lake Wilderness near Blacksburg, VA

Contact: Eric Giebelstein at ericgiebelstein@wildernessstewards.org for more details and to sign up for the day!   

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Connecting With You

We are interested in talking with you about how we might work together! Whether it’s one of our wilderness rangers presenting to your group or classroom to talk about Wilderness 101 or Leave No Trace, or scheduling a 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 part of a BioBlitz. Use the iNaturalist app or iNaturalist.org to upload your photos to add to the global database of biodiversity and support 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 uses the data to study and better understand impacts of climate change on mountain flora.

  • Help find, map, and prevent non-native invasive species in the United State's national wildernesses, wild and scenic rivers, and more by becoming a Wild Spotter™ citizen scientist volunteer. Download the app before your next hike!



As always, we encourage you to #recreateresponsibly and to follow Leave No Trace principles as well as be an active part of making the outdoors safe, accessible, and welcoming for people of all identities and abilities.