Idaho is renowned for its wild places and wild creatures, and The World Center for Birds of Prey is dedicated to keeping it wild. The organization is a centerpiece for raptor conservation, with an array of educational opportunities that go hand in hand with its recovery work.
While it enjoys an international reputation for its work, the center still needs the help of volunteers: namely, as tour guides and Interpretive center ambassadors, who staff the gift shop and greet visitors. Volunteers are also in demand to help guide school field trips.
No prior experience with birds or retail is required, but volunteers do need to fill out an application online and go through both orientation and training. Background checks are required for some positions.
It seems like public libraries have enjoyed a resurgence in popularity in recent years, reclaiming their prominent roles as places not only to find a book or video, but as community hubs where people go to access the Internet, catch lectures or take part in family friendly activities.
But in an era of tight budgets, volunteers are even more important. Public libraries across the Treasure Valley need people to help prepare and shelve books, handle donations for annual book sales, organize public events and put on summer reading programs.
The Boise Public Library has need for volunteers at each of its branch libraries across the city. The library bases its volunteer effort on its website, which posts opportunities as they become available. Would-be volunteers are asked to fill out an online form and be ready to undergo a background check.
Volunteers are also needed with Friends of the Boise Library, which puts on used book sale fundraisers and runs the bookstore.
Phone: Boise, 208-384-4076; Garden City, 208-472-2941; Friends of the Boise Library, 208-384-4198
Ridge to Rivers
Boise has won national accolades for its quality of life, and a key component of that is the extensive trail system crisscrossing the Foothills. But it takes more than top 10 lists to keep the Ridge to Rivers trails in top shape. Luckily, there seems to be no shortage of volunteers willing to step up and break a sweat in the name of their favorite trail system.
In fact, there's a waiting list for those who want to help maintain and expand one of Boise's most popular attractions. Opportunities to work on the trails depend on the project, but usually involve trail construction. The best chance to work on a trail is during specific large-scale projects. Watch the website for new opportunities.
Special Olympics Idaho has a big job organizing competitions for Idaho athletes, but it's a job made far easier with the help of people willing to donate their time.
There are service opportunities year-round, with enough variety to match just about anyone's time constraints and interests. Jobs include serving as coaches and mentors, helping with the logistics at events, fundraising, serving as medical staff at events and acting as management and sports management team members.
The first step to volunteering is to fill out an online application form. Anyone who wants to work closely with athletes will have to submit to a background check.
There's more to putting on a play than what audiences see on the stage. Stage Coach Theatre--one of Boise's longest-running community theaters--welcomes backstage helpers willing to lend a hand with costuming, creating sets or any number of duties.
The company also needs front-of-the-house staff, including the customer service side of the arts, by selling concessions, cleaning, stocking supplies, ushering, taking tickets and other assorted duties. Ages 12 and older are welcome (as long as minors are accompanied by an adult).
Maintaining the trees in the City of Trees is no small task. That's why Boise's Community Forestry crew needs help to keep the trees that fill the city's right-of-ways and parks healthy and maintained.
Tree stewards join city crews one morning a week to help prune public trees. But joining the pruning brigade takes some planning: Volunteers must complete a series of tree-care classes held in late February and early March in order to be certified to be a steward, so it's never too early to plan ahead.
The Treasure Valley Institute for Children's Art is doing everything it can to make sure kids across the valley have access to an array of arts programs. The nonprofit never turns away any child because his or her family can't afford tuition.
TRICA depends heavily on volunteers, who do everything from helping put on the multitude of events the organization is involved with to helping fix up the old Immanuel Methodist Episcopal Church in Boise's North End--a years-long effort to make the former house of worship its permanent home. The organization hosts work days, as well as efforts with individual groups focused on specific projects, both on the interior of the building and the grounds.
Volunteers are also focused on helping with fundraising for the nonprofit's capital campaign so TRICA can eventually move all of its services to the church. For more information on specific volunteer projects, contact TRICA.
So you want to volunteer somewhere, doing something, but you're really not sure where or what--don't let your indecision scare you. The crew at United Way of Idaho works to match volunteers with organizations spanning a broad spectrum of needs and interests. United Way also hosts numerous groups of its own, offering ways for people to get involved in the community with various levels of commitment.
The organization has partners in education, youth, health and finance, and it serves as a clearinghouse for volunteer work. It works with individuals, as well as sets up projects for groups, companies and schools. The best way to get started is to create a user profile online.
United Way also facilitates several service groups. The Junior Service Club is for junior high school students and offers a hands-on, yearlong project driven by students. High school students can join the Youth Venture program, a similar group that has numerous projects.
Adults who want to get more involved can join LEAP, which is focused on specific issues and works to engage more members of the community.
Volunteering for some projects requires a background check.
It can be difficult for seniors and the disabled to get out and about to run errands, but the GoRide Volunteer Driver Service is designed to help those who can't get out on their own. Volunteers give rides to those who need to go to the doctor, pharmacy, grocery store or on other errands.
Volunteer drivers are reimbursed for the miles they drive and time commitments vary. All volunteers must go through a background check, as well as a defensive driving class and have insurance. Contact: David Pederson, firstname.lastname@example.org
In order to provide the best care possible for our military veterans, the Boise VA works with hundreds of volunteers each year in a variety of jobs.
Volunteers are particularly needed to drive a van used to transport patients in Canyon County to the Community Based Outreach Clinic. Help doing clerical duties is also a priority, but jobs range from stocking shelves, serving as couriers and visiting patients in the hospital.
Anyone interested should call the volunteer office to pick up an orientation packet. Background check required.
The Women's and Children's Alliance has been fighting domestic abuse for more than 20 years, helping women, men, children and families who have faced domestic violence or sexual assault. The nonprofit organization has need of volunteers for an array of jobs, from clerical work to staffing in the crisis shelter, manning the hot lines and helping with special events.
WCA is also looking for workers at its thrift store, as well as people to join the Ambassador Program, which deals with community outreach.
Anyone interested in volunteering can start by visiting the WCA's website, where they can check out current needs, fill out an application and schedule a tour of the facility.
Zoo Boise is continually growing, becoming an even more popular community hub. In fact, volunteering at the zoo can be extremely competitive.
To focus its efforts, the zoo hosts volunteer interviews twice a year, with training sessions scheduled in May and September. Anyone looking to land a summer volunteer slot needs to have an application in ASAP, since interviewing will only be done through April.
Volunteers are needed to work as Conservation Cruise boat drivers, captaining a boat across the zoo's lagoon. Zoo Naturalist volunteers are also needed to work in the educational aspects of the zoo, including the giraffe feeding station, Wallaby Walkout exhibit, the butterfly exhibit, Zoo Farm, Sloth Bear Encounter and at education stations where visitors are introduced to the animals.
Volunteers must commit to at least four hours per week, pay $35 for a manual and uniform shirt and have a negative TB test each year. Conservation Cruise driver positions include a background check.
You can start the process by filling out an application available on the zoo's website, or call or email for more information.