Volunteer FAQs

Volunteer FAQs

Who can participate? Anyone can participate in our volunteer events, regardless of age or experience. However water quality monitors often need to wade into the river to gather samples, so we recommend adult supervision for volunteers under the age of 18.

How long does a tree planting or river cleanup event last? Our tree planting events are usually 2 hours or less, depending on the size of the planting area and the number of volunteers who attend the planting. Our river cleanups are also usually 2 hours or less, depending on the size of the cleanup area, the number of volunteers who attend, and the cleanup method used – cleanups using boats may take longer than cleanups on foot.

What is the time commitment for monitoring water quality? Volunteer monitors are asked to commit to an entire season of testing, which runs from June through September. WRP staff distribute equipment and provide training for new volunteers in late-May. Testing takes about 10 minutes at your river station on every other Wednesday morning, before 9am. The testing involves 3 distinct steps: recording general observations about the weather and appearance of the water, taking conductivity and turbidity readings, and collecting a water sample that will be tested for bacteria. Additional time is required to drop the water sample at the nearest collection point.

What should I wear? At all of our volunteer events, we recommend wearing clothing you don’t mind getting dirty and shoes you don’t mind getting wet. A hat and raincoat often come in handy – we plant trees and cleanup the river rain or shine! While most water quality monitors wear shorts and sandals, some may choose to wear fishing waders and boots, if their site requires them to wade into the river.

Should I bring my own tools? The WRP provides all necessary tools for tree plantings (gloves and shovels) and river cleanups (gloves and trash bags). You are welcome to bring your own tools – make sure to label them beforehand.

What else should I bring? We try to provide refreshments at each event, but recommend bringing water to drink and a camera to capture the action.

What tree species do you plant? We plant a diverse mix of early-successional – or fast-growing – native tree and shrub species including American beech, American elm, Black willow, Cottonwood, Gray birch, Quaking aspen, Red maple, Red-osier dogwood, Serviceberry, Shrub willow, Silky dogwood, Speckled alder, White pine, and Yellow birch.

Where do the trees come from? We order trees from a variety of sources with a preference for local nurseries. In the past, we have ordered bareroot stock came from the Champlain Valley Native Plant Restoration Nursery, Burlington’s Intervale Conservation Nursery, the NH State Forest Nursery, the NY State Nursery, and Cold Stream Farms. The 6-8’ trees come from Drinkwater’s Nursery in St. Johnsbury.

Where does the water quality testing equipment come from? We reuse our conductivity pens and turbidity tubes every year, which were purchased from Ben Meadows Company. For processing E. coli samples in the office, we purchase Colilert and QuantiTrays from Idexx every year.

What provisions are made for safety? The WRP gives a safety talk at each event, and makes a first aid kit available. New water quality monitors receive training in both testing procedures and water safety.

Current volunteer opportunities

Stay posted about current volunteer opportunities by visiting our News and Events webpage or our Facebook page. Or subscribe to our e-newsletter list-serve (see right-hand side of this page) to receive email notifications about upcoming events.