The VOC Voice is typically sent twice a month during our field season. Given recent project cancellations, we will continue to send this newsletter monthly, with additional issues as needed.
Important Organizational Updates

The COVID-19 outbreak has had a profound impact on all of us, including VOC. We have had to make some difficult decisions over the past few weeks that affect everyone in our community including our staff, volunteers, and partners. We shared these updates with some of our most dedicated volunteers in a virtual "Kitchen Table Conversation" this past Monday, and will cover the main points in this edition of the Voice. You can view the full conversation here .

One of the most difficult decisions has been to furlough nearly 50% of our staff until further notice . After reducing non-personnel expenses as much as possible, these furloughs were deemed necessary by VOC's Board of Directors and executive staff to preserve the long-term sustainability of the organization. The furloughs take effect this Friday, April 24, at 5 PM and include the following staff: Kelly Clouse, Projects and Operations Manager; Kate Barrett, Projects Coordinator; Aimee Cichon, Operations and Resource Development Coordinator; Kendall Cox, Volunteer and Outreach Coordinator; and effective May 15, Taylor Driver, Resource Development Manager.

Furthermore, we have canceled all volunteer projects and field programs through the end of June. There are many logistical challenges to running field programs in the current COVID-19 situation, including reduced group sizes, physical distancing requirements, travel restrictions, trail and park closures, strict sanitation practices, and protecting the health of our staff, volunteers, and partners. We are diligently working to update our project model and procedures to address these concerns and provide safe volunteer opportunities for you in the future.

Per these updates, we expect significant changes to our project calendar for the entire year. We are working with our land management partners to determine if, how, and when we can complete their projects. Please keep checking our website for up-to-date information.

More details on each of these items is included in the articles below. We understand this is a lot of information to take in; we appreciate your support and understanding and are happy to answer any questions you may have.
Support Our Staff. Support Stewardship.
Donate Today.

Furloughs are an unfortunate and emotionally difficult necessity to cut operational costs and protect the long-term health of the organization. While our staff members are furloughed, they will continue to receive benefits including 100% employer paid health insurance; they are also eligible to apply for government-funded unemployment pay.

It should go without saying that we want our team back as soon as possible. Not only because we like them, but also for their valuable contributions to VOC and our collective ability to work together to bring you updated programs as soon as possible.

Your support today will help us do that. Set up a one-time or recurring donation now through our website; you can also call us at 303-715-1010 ext. 112 to donate over the phone or send a check to 600 S Marion Pkwy, Denver, CO 80209. Your donation of any amount will help us bring back our Brady Bunch!
How We're Funded
& Why It Matters

Many of our funds are tied directly to our ability to complete a project within a specified timeframe. Thus, with some projects already canceled and the future of others uncertain, we've taken a significant funding hit. We also haven't been able to host in-person fundraisers or paid field trainings to generate additional revenue.

In addition to relying on support from individuals like you, we have applied for federal loan support and are working with funding partners to discuss extending contract periods and realigning expenses to allow for reduced work and necessary COVID-19 procedures. However, many of our funding partners are facing their own revenue challenges.
Potential Project Procedures

Our main focus over the next few months is to re-tool our project model, and prepare a plan to bring our full staff back on board. Below are some of the project protocols we are considering:

  • No overnight projects; only single-day opportunities.
  • Projects limited to 20 people, or two crews of 10.
  • Only adult volunteers allowed, ages 18+.
  • No carpooling with non-household members.
  • Less technical work (e.g. no rock work) to maintain minimum physical distancing of 6 feet.
  • Virtual project orientation instead of on-site orientation.
  • Volunteers bring their own masks, gloves, and food.
  • Health check protocols and updated waivers.
  • Updated protocols for tool use and storage, handwashing, and waste management.

Please note that none of these are set in stone, and we welcome any insights you may have. We will ultimately make all of our decisions based on available research and recent data, with public health as our top priority.
How You Can Help VOC & Practice Stewardship Today

Here are three ways to keep your commitment to the outdoors while projects are postponed:

  • Make and donate face masks to VOC. Masks may be required for future projects, and we'll need some available for volunteers who forget theirs at home. Click here, here or here for how-to guides, and contact us when you're ready to donate.

  • Be a smartphone steward by contributing to citizen science with iNaturalist. Record plant and animal species in your own backyard or stay inside to identify species observed by others. Here are some tips to get started; start this weekend to take part in the City Nature Challenge!

  • Learn new skills with online training from VOC's Outdoor Stewardship Institute (OSI). Our self-paced classes cover a variety of topics and are perfect for anyone who wants to learn more about the ins and outs of outdoor stewardship.
On the Lighter Side:
Steve Austin Training Scholarship Recipients

VOC is pleased to announce our 2020 recipients for the Steve Austin Training Scholarship! Named for one of our most skilled and longest tenured volunteer leaders, the annual Steve Austin Training Scholarship awards recipients with $160 in waived fees for training through VOC's  Outdoor Stewardship Institute (OSI) . Due to disruption from COVID-19, this year’s recipients will have until 2023 to make use of the award.

Erin King has been volunteering with VOC since 2015 and became a Crew Leader in 2016. In that time she has proven herself as a dedicated member of the VOC family. Erin’s passion for outdoor stewardship work started as a high school student working on a Student Conservation Association Trail Crew. “VOC has allowed me to continue to embrace that passion as an adult,” said Erin. “I am constantly challenging myself. In the capacity of expanding technical and leadership skills- it's rewarding to know that by challenging myself to learn and practice something new, I've gained a skill that will help me contribute even more to a cause I believe in.” Erin plans to use her scholarship for Crosscut Saw and Chainsaw training to help her take part in VOC’s growing saw operations program.

Leah Clayton first came to VOC as a member of the Cairn Youth Program in 2018. Now graduating from high school, she’s excited to stay involved with VOC as part of her personal and professional development goals. Leah told VOC, “I really enjoy environmental conservation projects, and I plan to study Geophysics with an emphasis on climate change science in college next year. I was a Crew Leader for the final Cairn project last year, and I would like to be able to crew lead on VOC projects.”
Thank you to CORE Consultants for their continued support of VOC, especially in these difficult times. CORE Consultants has been in our Trustees' Circle of supporters since 2018 and their employees volunteer every year.
Save the Date

April 27-May 3

May 5

May 16
Colorado Public Lands Day

May 17

June 6
National Trails Day

June 30
Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado (VOC) is a statewide nonprofit organization dedicated to motivating and enabling people to become active stewards of Colorado's natural resources. Founded in 1984, VOC is a nationally recognized leader in outdoor volunteerism, having helped more than 125,000 people of all ages get involved in and become inspired to care for Colorado's outdoors.
303.715.1010 |  voc@voc.org  |  voc.org
600 S Marion Pkwy, Denver, CO 80209