Find Appalachian Coal Country Team on Facebook Find Appalachian Coal Country Team on Twitter Find Appalachian Coal Country Team on YouTube
Appalachian Coal Country Team

Toolkit for Working with Rural Volunteers

Since 2008, the OSMRE/VISTA Teams conducted the Volunteers for Rural Watersheds Research Project, funded by the EPA Office of Wetlands, Oceans and Watersheds. Our research has been transformed into the Toolkit for Working with Rural Volunteers available at

There are three basic sections, each of which can provide significant insight and ideas for rural volunteers. The first contains results from the extensive survey of the volunteers, where you can learn who our rural volunteers are, what they do, where they associate and how best they can be reached.

The second section summarizes the 25 different volunteer practices. We first identified practices that are working well in a rural community, transplanted those practices to 50 other places, and then watched for a year to see how the project worked in a different context. This section is an invaluable "good idea catalogue," a collection of approaches to volunteer management that have been tested and documented.

Third, we've created a dozen worksheets, templates, and checklists that any small community will find useful as they begin a project or as they carry that project out to success.

You are not likely to find more useful, tested information for rural community volunteers. We're proud of the great work done to bring this idea to a useful reality and deliver a useful product, not just now, but for years to come.

Check out the Toolkit for Working with Rural Volunteers Project Brief for an overview of the research project and Toolkit.

Read Volunteers for Rural Watersheds Research Report for complete research findings.

Examples of trial practice case studies include:

Friends of Lower Muskingum River and George's Creek Watershed Association have been able to recruit athletes from their communities to successfully implement their trial practices.

Holding a 5k Race -- Friends of the Lower Muskingum River, Ohio

Friends of the Lower Muskingum River participated in the Volunteerism Project by hosting an Earth Day 5k Race to raise money, reach out to the community and recruit new volunteers

The Friends of Lower Muskingum River (FLMR) in Marietta, OH, organized and held their first Earth Day 5k: Run/Walk for the River. The event took several months of planning but their hard work paid off. The Earth Day 5k was FLMR's largest event of the year with 131 participants and 50 volunteers. Almost all participants in the Earth Day 5k had never been involved in a FLMR event before, which demonstrates that a 5k can be an effective way of reaching new people in a community. After the event was completed, FLMR created a how-to guide explaining how to coordinate this type of event in the future.

Partnering with student athletes -- George's Creek Watershed Association, Maryland

George's Creek Watershed Association partners with student athletes from Frostburg State University for the Volunteerism Project

Many communities have a college or university within their boundaries. By volunteering with a local watershed group, students can easily connect the campus to the community while addressing environmental issues. In partnership with the Appalachian Regional Reforestation Initiative, George's Creek Watershed Association (GCWA) in Barton, MD, was able to recruit the Frostburg State University football team to help an AmeriCorps NCCC crew plant trees on reclaimed mine lands. Twenty student athletes and five coaches helped plant roughly 4,000 native hardwood trees on seven acres of reclaimed mine land. The team had a great time and their head coach expressed interest in helping GCWA again in the future.

Video funded by the Norcross Wildlife Foundation

Volunteerism Coordinator