Volunteers For Outdoor Colorado


Mission Statement

Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado (VOC)'s mission is to motivate and enable people to become active stewards of Colorado's natural resources.


Inspired by the Appalachian Mountain Club's National Volunteer Project, Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado (VOC) was founded in 1984 to help land management agencies tackle the state's growing outdoor stewardship needs. Once we fine-tuned our volunteer model, we began working with like-minded Coloradans in the 1990s to assist in the development of other stewardship organizations that would be able to tackle more niche and/or local needs; this resulted in the launch of several offshoot organizations such as the Colorado Fourteeners Initiative (CFI) and Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers (RFOV), to name a few.
In the 2000s, VOC expanded our program offerings to include youth projects (including our award-winning Cairn Youth Program for high schoolers), week-long backcountry volunteer projects, and custom corporate projects. We formalized a stewardship training program through the creation of the Outdoor Stewardship Institute (OSI), which offers both online and field-based training courses to volunteers and agency employees alike to provide them with the leadership and technical skills necessary to complete high-quality stewardship work throughout the state and nation. To further assist land managers in utilizing volunteers more effectively, VOC established a field office in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management office in the San Luis Valley, which serves as a national model for public land volunteer management.
In 2010, VOC led the development of the Colorado Outdoor Stewardship Coalition (COSC), a group of 30+ nonprofits and land managers dedicated to promoting volunteer stewardship throughout the state. In 2015, VOC became the first outdoor stewardship organization to utilize a mobile app, motivating Coloradans to undertake simple acts of stewardship in their everyday lives. And in 2018, we compiled our decades of experience in effectively organizing, training, and managing volunteers to create the Stepping Up Stewardship Toolkit, an online set of resources to help any group start, enhance, or expand their own volunteer programs. We also launched the Grossman Scholarships to award those with a demonstrated history of outdoor stewardship and assist them in pursuing degrees related to natural resources.
Throughout our history, VOC has engaged more than 120,000 volunteers ages 6+ in more than 1,000 volunteer projects (including trail construction and maintenance, ecological restoration, and more) across Colorado for an estimated donated labor value of $24 million.

Program Details

Outdoor Volunteer Projects Across the State
Since 1984, VOC has helped more than 115,000 people of all ages get involved in caring for Colorado's outdoors through its various volunteer programs. Volunteer teams, led by trained volunteer leaders, build and maintain trails, restore lands damaged by wildfires, floods, and pine beetle, remove invasive weeds, plant trees and urban gardens, restore waterways, and more.
By offering volunteer opportunities ranging from four-day wilderness adventures atop 14,000 foot peaks to family-friendly evening garden plantings in Denver city parks, VOC strives to provide stewardship opportunities for volunteers of all ages and experience levels. Each project is undertaken with a corresponding environmental education component, which emphasizes the importance of individual responsibility in caring the for Colorado's natural resources we use and enjoy.
Stewardship Programs for Youth & Families
VOC offers various opportunities that introduce youth to new places to play, while building an understanding and appreciation for the importance of responsible recreation and involving them in active stewardship.
  • Youth Stewardship with a Team (SWAT): In partnership with schools and youth-serving organizations, VOC provides outdoor field days focused on caring for public lands and environmental learning.
  • Family and Youth-Friendly Volunteer Opportunities: Many VOC projects are open to youth, including our signature Family Camping projects in which children ages 6 - 12 participate in fun, educational programming while parents and older siblings volunteer, coming back together around the campfire to share evening s'mores and stories.
  • Cairn Youth Program: This award-winning leadership development program guides 30+ high school students in monthly environmental education, stewardship, and leadership activities throughout the school year, culminating in the students planning and leading their own volunteer projects.
Leadership & Stewardship Training Program
VOC's Outdoor Stewardship Institute (OSI) equips volunteers and employees from various organizations with the leadership and technical skills necessary to perform high-quality outdoor stewardship work, from project planning and management to leading volunteer crews, providing project-based environmental education, and more.
Expanding Statewide Volunteer Capacity
VOC is committed to engaging Coloradans in long-term care of our state's natural resources. As our public lands face increasing pressures from a growing population, changing climate, and shrinking public budgets, volunteers become an important and essential component in caring for our trails, parks, rivers, and open spaces. VOC plays a leadership role in the volunteer stewardship movement in Colorado through new exciting initiatives that strengthen statewide capacity to engage volunteers and meet the critical needs of our public lands.
For example, since 2010, VOC has organized and provided leadership to the Colorado Outdoor Stewardship Coalition (COSC), a group of representatives from non-governmental organizations and federal and state land management agencies who work to build statewide capacity for volunteer outdoor stewardship. This multi-agency coalition conducts research including the recently completed outdoor stewardship Gap & Capacity Report, and publishes annually reports on the collective impact of volunteer outdoor stewardship in Colorado. The 2015 report showed that in 2014, volunteers contributed 1.4 million hours to caring for Colorado's outdoors, valued at nearly $35 million.
Additionally, VOC works in close partnership with the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management to operate a partnership office in the San Luis Valley. VOC volunteer coordinators work together with land managers to grow volunteer stewardship programs in rural areas. Most recently, VOC launched the Stepping Up Stewardship Toolkit, an online set of resources to help groups start, enhance, or expand their own volunteer stewardship programs.
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600 S. Marion Parkway
Denver, CO 80209
United States
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