Volunteering for Success in the Outdoors

Volunteering outdoors is a great way to spend your time helping your community and cleaning up the Earth. Being lucky enough to have good jobs, friendly neighborhoods, and loving families results in the feeling of a secluded daily routine. Along with Dorothy Pecaut Nature Center and Woodbury County Conservation Board, there are many different volunteer groups and organizations that will appreciate everything you have to offer and help you create new connections with people who have similar interests. Give back and appreciate what you have in your environment by volunteering at community events, cleaning up after activities, and other local opportunities in your neighborhood. Volunteers protect the beautiful natural places we love and gain the experience and expertise to help support the missions of the locations they aid.

Here in Siouxland, we have many different opportunities to volunteer, and volunteers can provide unique talents to those organizations in need. Even if it feels difficult to find a place to volunteer that will share your interest, there is a fit! The first step to starting your volunteering path is to determine what you want to do while volunteering and what skills you can provide to a location. Next, try to identify where those desires and skills are applicable. By reaching out to those different groups you can set up opportunities with them that support your interests and benefit the community and organization. If you are not sure what opportunities exist, a great resource is a group called Volunteer Siouxland. Volunteer Siouxland is involved with many different agencies found in the Siouxland area. You can explore agencies and reach out through Volunteer Siouxland’s website at www.volunteersiouxland.com.

Volunteering can boost your mental health by providing a healthy escape and building social support. Volunteering provides escape from destructive habits and increases motivation by providing a sense of accomplishment and usefulness from sharing your skills with others.  Feelings of usefulness and accomplishment reduce stress, fight depression, increase confidence, and give a sense of purpose. Whether volunteering with seniors, children, animals, or natural disaster victims, doing what is needed will expand your mind, perspective, and worldview through growing your compassion for others. Humans also have social needs. While getting out into your community, you can volunteer at a location that would cause you to meet many other like-minded people who have similar interests to you. Meeting these people through volunteering prevents feeling isolated and ignites a passion for your efforts to help your community.

The experience that is gained from volunteering provides a great advantage when searching for a career. Not only are you gaining more advanced skills, but you are also gaining experiences that many companies are searching for in new hires. Additionally, volunteering is a networking opportunity. You will also interact with a new group of people, whether it is staff or other volunteers, which will expand your network and provide connections to opportunities, mentors, and references that you can look back on when job searching in the future. Finally, volunteering will help you understand yourself. You will learn more about your skills, accomplishments, interests, and values, while also learning to be confident in yourself. As you learn your strengths and build new skills, you will create a foundation of career success and confidence in your potential.  

Siouxland has many opportunities to volunteer, and with variety comes the opportunity to find the perfect fit for your interest and skills. Volunteering increases mental health through healthy escape and social ties. Volunteering is also valuable because it creates frameworks for success by building skills, networks, as well as igniting passions and illuminating ways to make those passions careers. Best of all, people of all ages can volunteer. Be sure to get involved, get outside, and explore the opportunities available to you in your community.

By Olivia Parks, AmeriCorps 4-H Environmental Education Naturalist, Dorothy Pecaut Nature Center

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