Volunteer at Columbia Springs

Thank you for your interest in volunteering at Columbia Springs! All information about volunteer can be found on this page. You can scroll to browse the information or you can click on a link in the text to jump to a section.

Why does Columbia Springs need volunteers?
Why should you volunteer at Columbia Springs?
What do volunteers do at Columbia Springs?
I want to volunteer! What do I do now?
Volunteer opportunities offered at Columbia Springs
Frequently Asked Questions

Why does Columbia Springs need volunteers? ss 081
Columbia Springs is a special place, right within city limits of one of the largest cities in Washington State – Vancouver. A free public space open to the public everyday of the year, visitors can enjoy over two miles of trails, wildlife viewing, and outdoor recreation. We also raise trout to support sport fishing in Clark County, and steelhead and salmon as part of efforts to restore endangered populations of these ecologically and culturally important species. Throughout the year we offer events and programs that aim to teach everyone in our community about how cool nature is and how they can protect it. With free monthly guided nature hikes, events like Kids Fishing Festival and Family Nature Fest, school environmental science field trips, summer camps, the Master Composter/Recycler program, and Salmon in the Classroom, we teach thousands of people each year about our community’s nature and the benefits it provides to us. Wow, that’s a long list! As a nonprofit organization, we are only able to offer all of this to the community because of donations and the help of volunteers!
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Why should someone volunteer at Columbia Springs? 4.8
Here’s what some of our current volunteers tell us are their favorite things about being a Columbia Springs volunteer:
– The volunteer program at Columbia Springs works really hard to help me fit volunteering into my busy schedule by being flexible and offering a variety of ways in which I can help out.
– I get to spend time outside.
– I meet new people all the time and have learned that we have some amazing people in our community!
– I feel like I am making people happy and helping our community be healthier.
– I like helping nature and preserving this important patch of habitat for wildlife.
– It’s a very peaceful place to be!
– I learn so much!
– I have so much in common with the people I meet here and feel so comfortable.
– I earn prizes and get to go to some cool events that are just for volunteers.
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What do volunteers do at Columbia Springs?
We work with volunteers to find ways that they can help that they also enjoy doing. So whether you want to be indoors or outdoors, do physical labor or desk work, want to restore habitat, or like to work on the computer, we have something that you can help with! Just let us know if you have any physical limitations or preferences about the environment you prefer (i.e. inside versus outside) and we will suggest some projects you can help with. Currently, we have volunteers who:
– Help with the field trips we host on our site
– Come to Stewardship Saturdays where we do projects to keep the site in tip-top shape
– Help us with office work like data entry and cutting or folding flyers
– Weed our educational gardens
– Represent Columbia Springs at community events
– Pick up litter
– Aid with website design and maintenance
– And more!
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I want to volunteer! What do I do now? girl Pointing on hike
You can:
– Sign up to join us at the next Stewardship Saturday (view the Calendar of Events to see if there is a Stewardship Saturday this month)
– Complete a Volunteer Application if you would like to become a frequent volunteer, Volunteer Lead, or if you need hours for a school or Scout project
– Read through list of volunteer opportunities below and let us know which sounds like the best fit for you
Contact Kaley McLachlan Burton at volunteer@columbiasprings.org or 360-882-0936 ext. 230 if you aren’t sure what volunteer opportunities are right for you, or if you have a special skill that you would like to use at Columbia Springs (examples: carpentry, graphic design)
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Volunteer Opportunities
Below is a list of ways you can volunteer at Columbia Springs. Click on the link to jump to the section about that opportunity.

Drop-in volunteering (Stewardship Saturdays)
Being a frequent volunteer (office help, special event help, Volunteer Lead program)
For students (Scout and school projects)

Drop-in Volunteering webwgo
Stewardship Saturdays happen just about every month. They are perfect for those who want to see what volunteering at Columbia Springs is like, or would like to help out once without making a long-term commitment. We provide volunteers with a variety of projects to help with, depending on their interests and skills. We end the event with an activity like building bird feeders, weaving baskets from ivy, picking blackberries, or a guided hatchery tour. We provide snacks, tools (including gloves), training, and Volunteer Leads to lead groups of volunteers with various projects. Volunteers are asked to wear outdoor and work-appropriate clothing (no open-toe shoes, please!). Children ages 3-13 are welcome to volunteer with their parent or guardian. Teens ages 14 and 15 can volunteer with parent or guardian’s signed permission. We welcome all ages and abilities; if you have special needs or limited mobility, please let us know so that we can make sure to have some projects that are right for you! Click here to go to our calendar where you can see the dates of 2016 Stewardship Saturdays, which are 9 a.m. to noon in the SWIFT classroom (inside the main hatchery building by the round cement fish ponds here at Columbia Springs). Signing up ahead of time to participate in Stewardship Saturday is encouraged by not required. Click here to sign up for the next Stewardship Saturday!
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Being a frequent volunteer
Office help: If you would like to come in to our Administrative Office to help with various tasks, please contact Kaley McLachlan Burton at volunteer@columbiasprings.org or 360-882-0936 ext. 230.

Special event help: Click here to go to our calendar to see what events are coming up. If you would like to help with an upcoming special event, please contact Kaley McLachlan Burton at volunteer@columbiasprings.org or 360-882-0936 ext. 230.

Lead program: Volunteer Leads participate in a training to learn how to become ambassadors of Columbia Springs at events we host and events Reading in the woodshosted by our community partners. Leads then complete additional training activities such as shadowing veteran Leads at events and completing a quiz about Columbia Springs. Leads who complete the training can help with our events, outreach, Stewardship Saturdays, office work, and more. They also have the opportunity (but are not required) to take additional training to become:
Education Certified: Help lead field trips and education programs
Docent Certified: Coming soon! Those who take the Docent training will be responsible for leading monthly guided hikes/tours at Columbia Springs about various topics
Restoration and Site Management Certified: These Leads will help primarily (but not exclusively) with leading Stewardship Saturdays and special group service events, and will receive additional training about our site, facilities, tools, and more
Click here to read the full Volunteer Lead Program Description. – The Volunteer Lead Program Description is currently being revised in preparation for the 2016 training. Please check back at a later date for the updated version! If you are interested in becoming a Lead and attending the training on February 3rd and 4th from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., please click here to complete a short Volunteer Application. Then you can click one of the buttons below to add the training to your calendar!
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For students
We have several ways in which we help students give back to their community while learning valuable life skills and meeting the volunteer service hour requirements of their school or group project.

Scout projects and troop service projects: Please click here to complete a Volunteer Application if you are interested in doing an Eagle Scout project at Columbia Springs. After we receive your application, we will contact you to set up an appointment where you will meet with us to choose from one of three project options that we will tell you about. If you are a troop leader who is interested in bringing a group of Scouts to Columbia Springs for a service project or merit badge activity, please contact Kaley McLachlan Burton at volunteer@columbiasprings.org or 360-882-0936 ext. 230.

Hours for school service projects, including middle school, high school, and college projects and service requirements: Please click here to complete a Volunteer Application if you need volunteer service hours for a school project. It is important that in the application you tell us how many hours you need and what date you need those hours by. We will contact you and let you know what opportunities and projects we currently have available for volunteers that would help you get all of your required hours by the deadline.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Who can volunteer at Columbia Springs?
A: Anyone can be a volunteer! Kids under 14 years of age must volunteer with a parent or guardian. Teens ages 14 and 15 can volunteer by themselves once a parent or guardian signs our Liability and Media Release form for them. Those over age 16 and over can volunteer by themselves. We have volunteers ages 5 to 95! We also work with volunteers with disabilities to provide them with projects that they enjoy and are comfortable doing. We work with everyone and anyone, though you must submit to and pass a federal background check (exceptions: if you are a minor, or if you are a drop-in volunteer at our Stewardship Saturday events).

Q: How many volunteers do you have, and how many volunteers do you need?
A: Right now, we have 40 active Volunteer Leads and approximately 200 unique volunteers over the course of a year. Demand for our programs, events, and site enhancement is continually increasing, so we need even more volunteers than ever! While our capacity for Volunteer Leads is high, our capacity for things like Scout projects, student school-project volunteers, and frequent office volunteers is much smaller, so sometimes those “positions” fill up. We have room for up to 50 volunteers at each of our Stewardship Saturday events.

Q: Do I have to commit to a certain number of hours or a specific volunteer schedule to volunteer at Columbia Springs?
A: Nope! You can come in once, or once a week! That’s one of the things that makes volunteering at Columbia Springs unique. While other organizations require that you commit to a certain number of hours, training, or that you set a rigid schedule of when you will volunteer, we’re really flexible. While we only allow our trained, committed Volunteer Leads to do certain tasks and projects (like help with our school field trips), we always have things that drop-in volunteers can help out with, like litter pick-up, weeding, leaf-raking, and more!

Q: Can I volunteer in the fish hatchery itself, working with the fish?
A: Most people who contact us about volunteering want to help with the fish! It’s understandable because fish are really cool. Before we answer this question, you need a little background about the hatchery here at Columbia Springs. The hatchery is part of Columbia Springs and our mission, but it is operated by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. Raising fish is not easy; our hatchery specialists have college degrees that are specifically about raising fish in hatcheries, and they have years of training… several decades in fact! Hatchery fish are susceptible to diseases that you may not even know you carry in to our hatchery on your boots, clothes, and hands. We also raise endangered chum salmon which are highly protected. For these reasons, we have to tightly control who can come into contact with our fish and how many hatchery volunteers we can have at one time. Occasionally, Fish and Wildlife will tell us that they would like a new weekly volunteer to help them in the hatchery, but for the six months to a year or so, this mostly consists of cleaning and repairing equipment and grounds maintenance like mowing the lawn. We have had several hatchery volunteers stick around long enough to learn how to help with the fish, but if it’s something you’re interested in, you need to be committed to helping on a regular basis and doing some grunt work while you learn about the hatchery operations! Please contact Kaley McLachlan Burton at volunteer@columbiasprings.org or 360-882-0936 ext. 230 if you have questions or would like to find out if we are currently accepting applications for hatchery volunteers. Another way in which you could help and get to work with the hatchery staff is if you become a Volunteer Lead and become Docent Certified to give hatchery tours! Click here to go back up to the Volunteer Lead section to learn more.

Q: What is expected of “frequent volunteers”?
A: You can read more about the expectations of frequent volunteers in the Volunteer Lead Program Description, but to summarize, we expect our regular, frequent volunteers to:
-Communicate with us regularly, i.e. respond to our emails and phone calls and let us know when they are available to help out
-Give us their feedback about what they’ve enjoyed, and what they would like to see improved about their volunteer experience
-Act professionally while they are volunteering, i.e. abide by our policies on drug/alcohol use, use appropriate language, demonstrate safe behavior, etc.
-Pass a federal background check

Q: What if I do the Volunteer Training or commit to being a frequent volunteer and I find that I can no longer help out at Columbia Springs?
A: That’s okay! We are here to help you find a way to give back to the community that you enjoy and that fits in with your schedule. We work very hard to make sure that if a volunteer needs to take some time away from volunteering, whether it’s for a couple of weeks or a few months, that they are welcomed back whenever they are ready to get involved again! Depending on how long they take a break from volunteering, when they return they might have to take some additional training. We also have Volunteer Leads and frequent volunteers who let us know in advance that at certain times of the year they are unavailable to help out, or that they are only able to help on certain days of the week. If you become a regular volunteer with us and find out that it’s not working for you, just let us know!

Q: When should I contact you about getting volunteer hours for a school project or requirement?
A: Please contact us as far in advance of your deadline as possible. For example, if you need 15 volunteer hours before April, contacting us as early as October is great! That gives us more flexibility to schedule time for you to volunteer when we have some really fun things going on for volunteers to help with. If you contact us less than four weeks before your hours deadline, we may not be able to help you get all of your required hours in time, so the sooner you contact us, the better! Please allow ten business days for us to respond to your Volunteer Application.

Q: Can I get hours for my service project on weekends or on weekday evenings?
A: Our staff is here Mondays through Fridays from 8 a.m. to 5 a.m., except for federal holidays. Staff must be present when volunteers are here at Columbia Springs helping out. Therefore, volunteers can help during office hours or at special events on weekends or evenings. The exception: Volunteer Leads are trained to represent Columbia Spring at events without staff members present, and these can be on evenings or weekends. Leads who are certified as docents lead guided hikes and tours on their own (or with other Leads) without staff present.

Q: What about service-learning for groups? Can I bring my company out to Columbia Springs for a day of service?
A: Depending on our availability, we are happy to work with your group to create a volunteer service event just for you! Our availability depends on the day/time your group would like to come out, if we have staff available at that time to lead your group, how large your group is, and other factors. Please contact Kaley McLachlan Burton at volunteer@columbiasprings.org or 360-882-0936 ext. 230 with your group name, age of group members, number in your group, and preferred dates/times and we will let you know if we are available to host your group and meet your needs!
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12208 SE Evergreen Hwy
Vancouver, WA 98683

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