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Environmental Volunteering in Canada

Want to help the environment? Have a few hours, a few days, a few weeks to spare? There is a great variety of things you could do – from helping out in the field, to participating at events, to important behind-the-scenes work. Whether you are a beginner or have many years of experience, volunteering can be an important and wonderful experience.

But to avoid wasting your time and the organization's, take a little time to find an organization and situation that is a good fit. Make sure you understand your own needs and expectations, so you can communicate them clearly:

ˇ what kind(s) of work would you prefer? are you willing to do other tasks?
ˇ your motivations and interests – what do you hope to gain from the experience?
ˇ your location, time availability, and how long you think you can commit;
ˇ your skills and experience, if any (if you have one, have your résumé at hand)

Why Volunteer?

There are many good reasons to volunteer, ranging from learning experiences, to personal satisfaction, to starting out on a new career. Here is an interesting article on the advantages of volunteering (and others).

Where can I find environmental volunteer opportunities?

There are literally thousands of different opportunities. One way to start would be to phone up your favourite local environmental group or organization. You can also find many groups, organizations and opportunities through the Internet:

(1) Finding Environmental Groups, Organizations and Companies in Canada:
ˇ Environmental Groups in Canada | Canadian Environmental Network | Peace Groups
(follow these links to find groups that interest you... then look at their
websites or call them to ask about volunteer opportunities)

(2) Environmental Volunteering Websites in Canada
ˇ Planet Volunteer (Canada) www.PlanetVolunteer.net
ˇ Environment Canada Volunteers / Environnement Canada Bénévoles www.ec.gc.ca/volunteers-benevoles/
ˇ Greater Toronto Area: Environmental Volunteer Network www.trca.on.ca/events/volunteer/

(3) Other Volunteer Boards in Canada – general topics (sometimes include environmental)
ˇ Volunteer Canada | Charity Village | Volunteer Opportunities Exchange | Volunteer Toronto | USA

Volunteer Coordination – Working with Volunteers

The person who finds and coordinates volunteers is sometimes a volunteer him/herself, or might be paid staff. In either case, it can be a challenging role. Volunteers tend to come and go more quickly than paid staff – and each has their own goals, skills, schedule, and expectations. But volunteer coordination can also be very satisfying, both in terms of the good work that is accomplished, and the positive experiences volunteers have with your organization. It's important to remember that if someone has a bad experience with your organization, they may never again volunteer, for your group or others. Here are some articles offering volunteer management tips and resources.

About Volunteering and the Voluntary Sector – More Information

Here are Wikipedia's articles on Volunteering, the Voluntary Sector, Non-Governmental Organizations, and Civil Society. You will also find more information on volunteering at the other links mentioned above.

Why do we live in a society where some people are overworked (and have no time to volunteer), while others are unemployed? Why do some people get paid more to market a brand of soap, than someone who is working to preserve peace and the environment? Here are some interesting links on Rethinking Work, Work-Life Balance, Sustainable Business, and Employment.

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