Organizations Seeking Volunteers
Volunteering is usually the easiest and smartest step toward getting good insight into outdoor job opportunities. As a volunteer, you'll have the chance to perform and observe many different types of positions working in the outdoors. By the time you're ready to apply for an outdoor job, your months and years of experience will give you a valuable leg up on the competition. If you're not sure where you can volunteer to do outdoor work, this short list of organizations - plus the others profiled in this section of JobMonkey - can give you a start.
Alaska State Parks Volunteer Program
Alaska's state parks depend on volunteers to help maintain and mange their parks. Volunteers often provide services to guests that would not be provided otherwise. Often, volunteers with the Alaska State Parks Volunteer Program move into internships and full-time positions.
VIP (Volunteers in Parks) offered by the National Parks Service
The NPS has its own volunteer program that is set up for people who are interested in helping out in the parks and perhaps make a career in the parks service. If you are thinking that working for the NPS might be your dream job, but want to make sure before going through the rigorous application process, become a VIP. VIPs work side-by-side with park employees, planting trees, painting and building structures, doing conservation and reforestation projects and many other tasks needed to keep our parks healthy.
Grand Canyon Trust Volunteers
The Grand Canyon is often the dream site of people who want to get paid to work outside in the wilderness. Competition for seasonal and full-time permanent positions at the Grand Canyon is fierce, and those who have worked with the Grand Canyon Trust Volunteer Program have a definite leg up in the hiring process. It's also ideal for those who want to help preserve the Canyons for the future without taking it on as a lifelong career.
UNV (UN Volunteers)
The United Nations Volunteer Program promotes peace and development through volunteerism. By working on development and planning, UN volunteers help create sustainability in the rural areas that need it most. They also help with peacekeeping efforts, local elections and humanitarian projects.
Habitat for Humanity
Habitat for Humanity builds houses for people across America. While it's a different kind of opportunity than most parks jobs, it's an excellent resume builder for civil engineers and architects who might want to work with the Bureau of Land Management or the National Park Service.
They call it the hardest job you'll ever love and they just may be right. The Peace Corps usually requires a minimum two-year commitment, making it a much longer commitment than most seasonal volunteer positions. However, the impact an individual can have is also greater, as are the skills and knowledge that can be learned while volunteering. Many Peace Corps volunteers return with skills in agriculture and sciences that are needed for many different types of outdoor jobs.