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Ordinary people doing extraordinary things

In a world where we get so heavily consumed with daily events, why is volunteering so important, especially in the area of conservation?

December 15, 2016
Ordinary people doing extraordinary things
Volunteers run an activity station at an event for DUC's Rescue Our Wetlands campaign. ©DUC

By Karla Guyn, PhD

More than any other organization, DUC volunteers are driven by passion. As outdoorspeople and conservationists, the desire to give back to wildlife and the natural areas we love is simply part of who we are. But despite how important conservation is to all of us, life is busy. Demands on our time are growing. That’s why making an effort to give back is more important than ever. Volunteering for an organization like DUC provides people with an outlet for their passion, which can otherwise get buried under the weight of daily responsibilities and routines.

The University of California in San Diego published this list of top reasons to volunteer. As you’ll see, the benefits certainly ring true for our efforts in wetland conservation.

  • Volunteering is good for you. There are physical and mental benefits of focusing your energy on a cause you believe in. Not to mention, the rewards of your efforts – clean water, fresh air and wild places – are the best medicine for the mind, body and soul.
  • It saves resources. Volunteering provides valuable services so DUC can invest more money in on-the-ground conservation efforts.
  • Volunteers gain professional experience. Many DUC staff members started out as volunteers. Volunteering introduced them to wetland conservation and provided hands-on experience that helped pave the way to a career.
  • It brings people together. You only need to spend a few minutes at a DUC volunteer chapter meeting or event to see how volunteering builds camaraderie and teamwork among people from all walks of life.
  • Volunteering strengthens your community. DUC volunteers raise funds that support wetland conservation projects both locally and across the country. These projects have a direct impact on things like flood mitigation, water quality and access to recreational areas.
  • You learn a lot. When I first joined my DUC volunteer chapter, I learned an incredible amount about what it takes to run a successful event from people who had been doing it for years. Similarly, my experiences in biology and DUC conservation programming helped others gain a greater understanding of the impact our efforts were having on the landscape.
  • You make a difference. Every person counts! For all the reasons listed above, every single volunteer is contributing to the success of wetland conservation.

Volunteering was once described to me as “ordinary people doing extraordinary things.” While I tend to agree, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that volunteers at DUC are anything but ordinary. Their achievements are extraordinary because they are extraordinary.

Karla Guyn is DUC’s Chief Executive Officer.