Leominster, MA – February 7, 2012 – Volunteers are the heart and soul of so many nonprofit organizations in Massachusetts and nationwide. For The Trustees of Reservations (The Trustees) – the nation’s oldest statewide land conservation organization, which owns and manages more than 106 “reservations” of scenic, cultural and natural significance for the public’s use and enjoyment throughout the Commonwealth – volunteers are an integral part of overall operations. A primarily member-, donor-, and volunteer-supported organization, The Trustees currently rely on a growing base of more than 1,500 volunteers, who contributed nearly 60,000 hours of time last year, to help care for their many properties and natural and cultural resources. These properties include several National Historic Landmarks and highly frequented spots like the Crane Estate and Beach in Ipswich and Doyle Community Park and Center in Leominster, to local community farms, parks and open spaces for recreating. Trustees volunteers regularly assist more than 175 full-time and nearly 400 seasonal staff to care for these community treasures so they may remain open for the public, year-round.
In January, The Trustees were awarded a $50,000 Stewardship Leader Grant from REI, a national outdoor retail co-op committed to connecting people with nature. For its Stewardship Leader Grants, REI selected one leading organization in each of its largest markets to provide larger grants for their volunteer programming, as well as local REI outreach team support. This grant will help The Trustees take their volunteer program to a new level, enabling the organization to fully realize the first of three phases of a strategic plan designed to improve communications with, as well as the recruitment, scheduling and tracking of, The Trustees’ growing volunteer base. The Trustees will now be able to invest in and implement a web-based software system to better manage volunteers and interns. The funds will also help The Trustees expand the volunteer program to more effectively care for and manage the organization’s 106 properties so The Trustees can better serve their hundreds of thousands of recreational visitors and enhance the resilience of their natural and cultural resources.
The Trustees are proud play an important role in the Commonwealth’s vital outdoor recreation and tourism industries, which are critical to Massachusetts’ economy and quality of life. With more than one million visitors to Trustees properties each year, The Trustees’ growing base of volunteers generously contributes their time to important management projects, such as: constructing, clearing and maintaining trails; serving as interpretive tour guides; removing invasive species; caring for community gardens and helping to harvest produce in farm fields; preserving and maintaining historic buildings and sustainable landscapes; assisting with overall property stewardship; monitoring conservation restrictions; and running and marketing special programs and events.
“The REI Stewardship Leader Grant will allow us to create the foundation for a well-designed, professional statewide volunteer program so that we can be even more effective at conserving the natural lands and ecosystems on which we all depend,” said Lisa Caissie, The Trustees of Reservations’ volunteer services director. “This grant enables us to match our volunteers’ desires for high-quality, impactful experiences with the right opportunities, while helping us reach our ambitious strategic goals, together.”
REI has been a long-term supporter of and partner with The Trustees. REI has awarded The Trustees other grants in the past and has been partnering with the organization to lead a series of REI Outdoor School programs on several local Trustees properties. Both organizations have a shared vision of making the outdoors more accessible to people and inspiring them to be more healthy, active and green in their lives, their communities and beyond.
“Grant funding from REI will strengthen the organization as a whole and create lasting benefits,” says Kathy Abbott, The Trustees’ Executive Vice President. “The Trustees’ organizational model depends on volunteers and staff working together to manage our resources and serve our visitors to the highest possible standards. We want the work of the volunteers to be as rewarding for them personally as it is for us organizationally. This grant will help us to achieve that outcome. Our goal is for our volunteers, staff and visitors to feel good about their contributions to conservation and to have fun working together.”
“We recognized that The Trustees have a strong volunteer base and a firm foundation in volunteer management and training, and are excited to help them jumpstart a more strategic and automated program that will help expand their program further,” said Peter Streit, REI’s Market-based Grants Program Manager. “It is also our hope that The Trustees, who serve as a leader and role model for many land trusts and conservation groups nationally, can use their volunteer program as a model to other land conservation groups and nonprofits in the future.”
More about The Trustees of Reservations
The Trustees of Reservations is the nation’s oldest statewide land conservation organization, founded by open space visionary Charles Eliot in 1891 to “hold in trust” and care for properties of scenic, cultural and natural significance. Supported by members, donors and thousands of volunteers, The Trustees own and manage 106 spectacular “reservations” located on more than 26,000 acres in 75 communities throughout Massachusetts for current and future generations to enjoy. The Trustees work to promote healthy, active, and green communities locally across Massachusetts by providing hundreds of year-round programs, events and engagement opportunities for all ages. Most property entry fees, programs and events are free-of-charge or discounted for members. Accredited by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission, The Trustees are an established leader in the conservation movement and model for other land trusts nationally and internationally. One of the largest nonprofits in Massachusetts, The Trustees employ 150 full-time, 49 regular part-time, and 400 seasonal staff with expertise in ecology, education, historic resources, land protection, conservation, land management, and planning. To find out more or to become a member or volunteer, please contact www.thetrustees.org.