Ask not what your summer can do for you, ask what you can do this summer.
Rather than spending your leisure time working on your tan, looking for a new single-track trail or exploring the wonders of the Boise bar scene, why not do something useful?
Boise Weekly is even taking the work out of figuring out how: Just check off a few items from the handy list of organizations that can use a little help in the form of your volunteer work. A wide variety of organizations with diverse missions gives those looking to give back a chance to find something that matches their interests.
We've even rated the volunteer opportunities by the amount of sweat they will create, so if you're looking for an excuse to get dirty and work hard, look for listings with some serious sweat. Those who prefer air conditioning should stick to the lower end of the scale. These aren't the only volunteer options this summer, but just a few to get you going.
Contact: Kavin Dehner, firstname.lastname@example.org
Website: alphaidaho.org Phone: 208-424-7799
Allies Linked for the Prevention of HIV and AIDS is continuing its fight, but to do so, the group needs volunteers to do a little bit of everything and anything from office work to staffing outreach events. New volunteer orientation is held every other week.
Boise Art Museum
Contact: Visitors' Services, Melissa, Ext. 34, email@example.com; Office, Brenda, Ext. 10, firstname.lastname@example.org; Education, Drew, Ext. 18, email@example.com; Art in the Park, Jeni, Ext. 14, firstname.lastname@example.org
Website: boiseartmuseum.org Phone: 208-345-8330
The art may seem effortless, but bringing it to the public isn't. Boise Art Museum depends on its volunteers to do a lot. Volunteers are the ones who greet patrons, take admission, work the museum store and provide information. Volunteers also work in the administrative office and help with summer camps and educational programs for children and adults. The museum's largest fundraiser of the year, Art in the Park, requires hundreds of volunteers to help with every aspect of the event, from setting up to final accounting. Check BAM's website and request a volunteer application for all positions.
Boise Bicycle Project
Contact: Jimmy Hallyburton, email@example.com
Boise Bicycle Project is a moving force in the community, and it's an entirely volunteer-driven force at that. BBP hosts volunteer orientations three times a month to get people ready for an array of activities from helping fix up donated bikes for those in need to giving bike novices a hand fixing their own bikes. Volunteers are needed on the second Saturday of each month to help with the Kids BASH program, which helps kids learn bike safety. BBP also needs help to host bicycle drives, as well as to staff the stations at the many events the nonprofit hosts each year.
Boise Rec Fest
The first Boise Rec Fest, celebrating everything we love to do in the outdoors, will take over Ann Morrison Park on Saturday, June 26, and Sunday, June 27. While there will be fun for all, it will take a small army of volunteers to pull off the event. Organizers are looking for people to do just about everything including, man the information and merchandise booths, pick up trash, set up and take down the event, provide security, manage the entertainment stage, help exhibitors, sell concessions and manage recreation events. Check the Rec Fest website and click on the "volunteer" button to register to volunteer. See Rec on Page 42 for more on Rec Fest.
Boys and Girls Club
Contact: Selena Marquez, firstname.lastname@example.org
Phone: Volunteer Coordinator, 208-639-3166; Garden City club, 208-321-9157; Meridian club, 208-888-5392
The three Boys and Girls clubs in Ada County are always looking for more volunteers to help them create a positive and fun place for kids to spend time. Volunteers work directly with the kids, helping staff with programs, as well as just spend time with club members. This summer, volunteers are needed to help take small groups on field trips, work with kids during lunch and snack times and give a little more one-on-one time to the youngest club members. The Meridian club will host its summer volunteer orientation on Wednesday, May 26, while the Garden City club will hold its orientation on Thursday, May 27, but all volunteers are welcome, even if they miss those dates. The Kuna club is hosted in Reed Elementary School and Marquez coordinates all volunteers for that club. Volunteers can get an application form on the website.
Boise River Volunteers
Contact: Chris Crawford
The Boise River is one of the jewels of the city, and the Boise River Volunteers have taken it upon themselves to make sure the river stays clean during the busy summer season by floating down and picking up trash (and occasionally helping a fellow boater). Anyone interested in joining the effort can contact the group via its website and click on the contact link.
Foothills Learning Center
Contact: Kristin Lundstrom
The Foothills Nature Center is all about getting people back in touch with nature. Volunteers are needed with every aspect of the center's programming, including helping with special educational events on the second Saturday of each month and teaching programs and camps. There's even some physical work, like working in the native garden. Log on to the website to download a volunteer application.
Habitat for Humanity
Contact: Construction, Sarah Waltman; Habitat Re Store, Jeff Phelps or Alison Beck Haas
Phone: Construction, 208-331-2916, Ext. 315 (Tuesday-Friday, 9 a.m.-1 p.m.); Re Store, 208-375-5256 (Monday-Saturday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m.)
Habitat for Humanity is busy keeping roofs over peoples' heads--literally. Opportunities to help with construction will be limited this summer, with only one home in the works, but Habitat staff always need help at the Re Store, where donated construction material is sold to the public to raise money for the group. Unlike the construction site, the Re Store offers air conditioning and indoor plumbing, and volunteers can drive delivery trucks, stock shelves and help with customer service.
Idaho Botanical Garden
Contact: Karen Christeson, email@example.com
The garden is always in need of a little extra help, whether it's to run one of the many events or to take care of the plants. Event volunteers staff the numerous concerts that fill the garden with music all summer long, including the Botanical Garden series on Thursday evenings and the Outlaw Field Summer Concert Series. While volunteers get to catch the concerts for free, they are expected to work. Duties include selling and checking tickets, clean up, crowd monitoring and information.
The garden also works with volunteer docents who lead visitors on tours of the 15 acres of gardens. For those who want to get their hands dirty and learn something in the process, the garden volunteer program offers the chance to work with staff gardeners doing everything from planting to maintaining the garden.
Volunteers must start by filling out an application, which is used to match interest and schedules to jobs. Applications are available at the garden office.
Idaho Historical Society
Phone: Idaho State Historical Museum, 208-334-2120; Idaho Historical Society, 208-334-2682; Old Idaho Penitentiary, 208-334-2844
Idaho Historical Society depends on volunteers throughout the organization. Volunteers can lead tours of the Old Idaho Penitentiary, help catalog collections at the historical museum or work in the native garden in the Pioneer Village area of the museum. Volunteers can even get their book smarts on while working at the historical library and archives collection. Check the website for a volunteer application.
Idaho Humane Society
Contact: Melanie Larson, firstname.lastname@example.org
Idaho Humane Society has seen more and more animals coming through its doors. This means there's a corresponding need for more volunteers to help out in a wide variety of ways. Are you a dog person without a dog? Volunteer to take a dog for a walk. IHS also needs people willing to help bathe and groom dogs so they look their best for prospective families. Volunteers are also needed to act as adoption assistants, helping to answer questions and help match people and dogs. As part of the outreach program, volunteers also help with adoption events and getting animals to television segments. If you're more of a cat person, IHS needs help socializing and playing with the cats in the cattery and helping would-be adoptive families. Visit the website to fill out a volunteer application before signing up for an orientation.
Idaho Shakespeare Festival
Contact: Chandra Woodward, email@example.com
From June through September, Idaho Shakespeare Festival welcomes volunteers to help get audiences in the theater and to make sure they're comfortable. Volunteer individuals and groups help the audience and staff throughout the evening, from taking tickets to picking up trash at intermission. In return, they get the chance to see an ISF production for free. Volunteer slots fill quickly, but an emergency waiting list means volunteers might just get to work the show of their choice.
Idaho Velodrome and Cycling Park
Contact: Brad Nelson, firstname.lastname@example.org
The bike park in Eagle is an ever-growing mecca for mountain biking, and the trails were built with thousands of hours of volunteer work. Volunteers are still needed to help repair trails, pull weeds, build fences and other assorted activities. To get on the volunteer list, e-mail Nelson and check out the website.
Phone: Boise, 208-384-4076; Garden City, 208-472-2941
For the people, by the people could well be the motto of the public library system. All those books, videos, computers and public programs require some serious manpower, and budgets require some big-time volunteer hours. Public libraries across the valley need people to help prepare and shelve books, prepare donations for annual book sales, organize public events and help with summer reading programs.
The Boise Public Library has seen an increased need for volunteers as it has opened branch libraries across the city. Fortunately for the library, there are usually more volunteers than jobs. The library has launched a new feature on its website allowing would-be volunteers to see what openings are available, as well as get an online application form.
Ridge to Rivers
Contact: David Gordon
You know those trails that crisscross the Foothills? Well, they don't come without a whole lot of work. The Ridge to Rivers trail system depends on the work of volunteers to maintain and build trails and serve as trail rangers offering information, as well as handing out kudos coupons for local goods to trail users who obey the rules. If you're in the mood to break a sweat, this is a good place to start.
Contact: Tracy Bryan, email@example.com
Phone: 208-384-4125, Ext. 206
Volunteering at Zoo Boise is typically a very competitive process, with applications due on March 1 and Sept. 1 each year. But this year, there are a few new positions for which the zoo is looking for summer help.
Volunteers are needed to captain the conservation cruise boat, a solar-powered boat that takes visitors across the lagoon in the zoo's African exhibit. By using volunteers, the zoo is able to donate all funds raised through the cruise to worldwide wildlife conservation efforts.
Along the same lines, volunteers are needed to serve as guides in the new Wallaby Walk-about, an educational program in which visitors learn more about wallabies, their habitat and conservation efforts.
Typically, volunteers also help with the zoo's giraffe feeding station and the farm feeding station, as well as serve as zoo naturalists running educational programs and tours. A select group also works with zookeepers to help care for the animals, including some of the less glamorous jobs like cleaning.
Check the website for an application, or call or e-mail for more information.
Got a yen to better yourself during the summer by learning something new? There are plenty of opportunities to do just that, regardless of whether you want to learn a better tennis serve or how to make your garden the envy of the neighborhood.
Here are some outlets for your own continuing education program.
Boise Parks and Recreation Department
Website: cityofboise.org/ departments/parks
Parks and Rec is the ultimate go-to organization for picking up a new skill during the summer. The department has a full schedule of activities for kids, teens and adults, including a roster of sports. Team sports include softball, flag football and volleyball, while individuals can take on ice skating, swimming, tai chi or golf. The adventurous can even take on wilderness survival training.
Visit the website and click on the Activity Guide for a full list of classes, prices, location and details.
College of Western Idaho
CWI has an impressive list of adult enrichment classes for those who want to learn something new, but aren't after a degree. Class options include theater, music, dance, arts, crafts, photography, mind/body/spirit, history and interior decorating.
Look at the adult enrichment portion of the community connections section of the website for a full list of classes, dates and prices.
Idaho Botanical Garden
Idaho Botanical Garden continues its community mission with an ongoing series of classes. This summer, participants can learn how to create a miniature water garden, the ins and outs of floral design, how to brew beer, hula hooping for health and how to choose native plants that can survive in Idaho's extreme conditions. Click on the "education" button on the website to check out the summer 2010 class schedule with all the details.
University of Idaho Extension Service
The U of I Ada County extension office has long been the center of the agricultural community, and continues its mission with a series of classes through its Master Gardener program, in which students can learn from some of the top gardeners in the area.
The extension service also offers classes in personal finance and estate planning, as well as food safety and preservation. Check the website for details.Want a PDF version of this story? Get it here.