Even after a long day of work it’s still just as easy for volunteers to crack a smile.

Why Do We Volunteer?
by Mary Sanders
Wilderness Volunteers 2018 Intern
These trips aren’t a walk in the park. There isn’t anything easy about waking before the sun, working all day, sleeping outside, and then getting to do it all over the next day. The real kicker? Volunteers pay for the experience.
There are several aspects of Wilderness Volunteers trips that I have found to be interesting. The volunteers are happy. They don’t complain. Each project is a lot of fun. Yet, this is all done while we sweat, and dig, and saw through the majority of the day.
Why do we volunteer? Well, there are actually a lot of things that go into the drive of Wilderness Volunteers. The environment, the people, the result. All combined, maybe they are the reason the difficult aspects of the project start to feel like background noise.

Left, our humble but equally delicious dinner. Right, riding back to camp with our tools.

During the trip we are placed in some of the most beautiful, interesting managed land areas. Waking up to the sun rising over the hills, coyotes crying in the distance. By the end of the project, volunteers know the land, treat it well, and have made it better. The wildlife you see, fresh air you breath, it’s like nothing else at home, and all the while, we’re helping to preserve it.
The greatest pride of this work is probably the end result. Going over the work at the end of the week, and being taken away at just how much got done. We also get to laugh with fellow volunteers about how stupidly hard it was to create that one drain, or how good that section of trail looks. The best part is when hikers, bikers, equestrians, whoever really, thank you for the work, and tell you how much of a difference it has made for them.
Left, an early morning at the project side. Right, my left hand by day two.
Lets not forget the volunteers themselves. Some of the best people out there if we’re being honest. Individuals who have taken the time out of their busy lives, paid for extra travel expenses, to get out there and work with complete strangers on public lands for a week. They work side by side cracking jokes, sharing stories, and maybe a few tips along the way whether it be how to hold an axe, or life advice. By the end they feel like family. Maybe you’ll get lucky and see them out in the field again, or visit while traveling through their state.
On one of the last days of the Weminuche Project I remember project leader Tom Labbs-Johnson, a twenty-plus year veteran of Wilderness Volunteers actually saying something so simple yet so true to what it’s like to complete a trip.
“Some years I think, god I’m done. But then a few months pass and I think… but man that was fun. You meet good people, do good work…”

The group packing in tools to the worksite