Ryan Messinger, YVSC Intern | April 15, 2021

My work in conservation has its roots in volunteerism, where back in 2018 I interned with Conserve Natural Forests in Pai, Thailand. I led visitors on tours of our organization’s land, a once dilapidated soybean farm that showcased the kind of regrowth that can be achieved in just three years of reforestation efforts. The farm had become the beginnings of a diverse and lush jungle, with increased wildlife and carbon sequestration. While tending to seedlings in the nursery, I would explain to the volunteers the importance of reforestation and how it can help offset the world’s carbon emissions. At the end of the tour, they each picked out a tree sapling, gave it a name, and planted it as part of the ongoing effort to grow our little rainforest. Though there was much fun to be had out at the land, these volunteers gained something special during their time there. They felt, often for the first time in their lives, that they were a part of the solution to the climate threat facing our planet.

Interest in environmental volunteerism has grown in recent years because people, like me and those I worked with in Thailand, are yearning for the opportunity to do something to help the natural world. We’re constantly bombarded with doom and gloom predictions from scientists about the future of this planet, and what will happen if nothing is done. But what can be done as individuals? Minute tasks like turning off the lights don’t seem all too empowering, and grand-scale projects like a renewable power grid seem out of reach for the average person. We need hands-on projects with real results, where people can say “Look, I did that! I made a difference.” Here in the Yampa Valley, we are a compassionate folk who are generous with our time and take pride in giving back to the community, and to the environment.

With this in mind, a new volunteer-based platform, the Yampa Valley Climate Crew, will be rolled out through YVSC this summer. The Climate Crew will connect passionate community members with conservation projects that support climate action right here in the Yampa Valley. This will include tree planting, wetland and riparian habitat restoration, and site maintenance, all of which increase carbon sequestration and resilience. People of all ages are welcome to participate and give back to the natural landscapes that we all appreciate and receive so much from. You’ll have the chance to work on projects hosted by organizations like the US Forest Service, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, and yes, YVSC! There are many projects here in the Yampa Valley that address our climate crisis through carbon sequestration, and all they need is an impassioned labor force to do the job. A Climate Crew webpage will display all upcoming events, who we will be partnering with, and a difficulty setting to ensure the volunteers are comfortable with the work that will be done on that particular project.

More information will be coming soon on the YVSC website and in our newsletters. For those that don’t have the time or are unable to join, you can still support this initiative by donating at https://yvsc.org/support/, or by spreading the word through friends and family.

We appreciate you all, and hope to see you out there!