Find Out More About Volunteering: Frequently Asked Questions
With what types of stewardship projects do volunteers help?
Projects greatly depend on the location, phase of restoration or stewardship, and the season. From late winter through early spring and again in the fall season, volunteers may be helping with planting projects; in late spring, summer, and fall, volunteer projects typically focus on invasive weed removal.
Do I need experience to volunteer?
No experience is necessary! Staff will begin each volunteer event with a training in safety and tools, plant identification, and project demonstrations. Volunteering is an excellent way to become more familiar with plant and wildlife ecology of the Gorge!
Is Gorge stewardship appropriate for families with younger children?
Yes! Stewarding in the Gorge can be fun and enjoyable for the whole family. However, some of our project sites have inherent hazards that come with Gorge topography, such as trailside cliffs or steep slopes that are best suited for older youth and adult volunteers.
Planting events are generally fun for family members and volunteers ages 6 and up and there are numerous fun ways for elementary-age kids to participate in plantings. We ask that the accompanying adults manage kids' engagement and comfort levels.
Invasive species removal events are generally suitable for ages 10 and up. We are often working in plants with thorns and using garden tools such as loppers, tall rakes, and shovels that can be trickier for younger volunteers.
To help guide which volunteer activities are best for you or your family, each volunteer event description will include details on ideal ages and physical conditions at each project site.
May I volunteer if I’m under 18?
Yes! Work parties are a great way to:
- Build skills in tool use and plant identification
- Gain field experience in environmental science and restoration
- Get outside with friends while giving back to the community
- Complete service hours for school programs
If you are age 16 or older, you may volunteer unaccompanied by an adult as long you bring our Youth Volunteer Waiver signed by parent or guardian.
Volunteers age 15 and under must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
How accessible are volunteer stewardship events?
Our volunteer events in the Gorge have varying levels of accessibility, depending on the location and type of volunteer project. Some project sites are wheelchair accessible. Each event registration link includes a physical description of the project site, terrain, and type of work, and often there are other ways individuals can volunteer. If you are curious about an accommodation or accessibility at a particular project site, we encourage you to contact Stewardship Volunteer Coordinator Sarah Skelly.
May I sign up a group to volunteer?
Small groups are welcome to sign up for any scheduled work party. Currently, our capacity is limited to 5-10 individuals, depending on the project. Please contact Stewardship Volunteer Coordinator Sarah Skelly for more details on how to get your group involved.
The Gorge is a huge area! How does Friends pick project sites to engage volunteers?
While we cannot completely eradicate invasive species in the Gorge, volunteer efforts have an incredible impact on preserving biodiversity and endemic species in key areas in the Gorge. Volunteer projects help protect sensitive plant or wildlife species; pulling weeds alongside a trail can help prevent the seeds from spreading farther.
Friends identifies projects with our partners where volunteer efforts can have the most impact. View currently scheduled work parties to learn more.
The Volunteer Culture We Strive to Create
Physical and mental safety are of the highest priority at Friends of the Columbia Gorge volunteer events and we are committed to ensuring that these spaces are a welcoming and safe environment for all volunteers and staff. We expect that all volunteers advocate for and uphold diversity, equity and inclusion values at all Friends events. Read Friends' Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion (DEI) Statement.
We expect staff and volunteers to:
- Be aware and accountable around how our words, emotions, and actions affect others.
- Protect each other from discrimination or offensive comments of any kind related to (but not limited to) race, gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, disability, mental illness, neuroatypicality, physical appearance, age, religion, or other aspects of identity.
- If a participant at a Friends event feels that they have experienced or witnessed discrimination or have any other concerns regarding safety, we encourage participants to seek support directly from a Friends staff member. Volunteers are encouraged to speak up to interrupt microaggressions or offensive language. Learn how bystanders can shut down microaggressions.