Volunteering for Green Organizations
Volunteering for Green Organizations
Canadians are increasingly becoming concerned with the environment. So it's not surprising that careers in the green sector are currently in demand. According to the Environmental Careers Organization (ECO), over 500,000 Canadians are already part of the environmental workforce -- and the number is expected to grow.
The green sector isn't only for students of Environmental Studies. According to the ECO, people from a wide range of educational backgrounds (such as Journalism and Marketing) are now in the sector. A Montreal Gazette story also proclaims that green careers are hot and that workers with skill and experience in the green sector will continue to be in demand.
If you're passionate about the environment and have thought about a career in the green sector, volunteering is a good way to get your foot in the door. Through a volunteer position with a green organization, you can acquire work-related skills while also making a positive impact on the natural environment.
Some SFU students are already applying their passion for the environment and are volunteering for green organizations. Kelsey Fonda, a Biology undergrad, is one of them. She has taken green volunteering to heart and has become involved with the Vancouver Aquarium and the Marine Mammal Rehabilitation Centre.
Kelsey was profiled in the 'What's YOUR Cause?' campaign where she explained how green volunteering has rewarded her in ways that go far beyond her professional and academic life:
"Seeing [rehabilitated animals] be released-words can't describe-it's nice to see. Helping the public to understand. Even if you can stop one person from polluting it makes a difference. Research, not only helping animals in the Aquarium but also other animals out in the wild" she pauses and then adds "I think people typically think 'oh, I'm going to go volunteer at the Aquarium and stand there and tell people that's the way to the Amazon'" but there are lots of opportunities to help out and actually get involved".
Many online resources are available if you'd like to volunteer for environmental non-profit organizations. Regardless of your academic background, you can find an organization that advocates for an issue you're passionate about. Look for opportunities and see what organizations have to offer - you may be surprised at what you find!
As an SFU student, you have access to many on-campus volunteer opportunities. Here's a list of student organizations that specifically caters to environmental issues:
- Sustainable SFU is a student-run campus group created to make real change on campus by giving strength to students' vision for a sustainable institution. Some of the campaigns that Sustainable SFU has launched in the past include the Water Sustainability Campaign as well as the SFU Local Food Project. You can get involved with Sustainable SFU by volunteering for one of their campaigns.
- Simon Fraser Public Interest Research Group (SFPIRG) is a student-funded and directed resource centre that supports environmental and social change through research, education and action. Contact SFPIRG action groups such as the Society Advocating for Marine Animals and the Climate Change Action Group for information on some volunteer opportunities.
- Symplicity, SFU's very own comprehensive online job posting system, is a great database to find green volunteer opportunities. Some organizations that currently have green volunteer positions posted on Symplicity include Evergreen, Be The Change Earth Alliance, and Green Cameroon. There's a good mix of positions available - from outreach assistants to social media and marketing coordinators.
Specialty sites that highlight environmental volunteer opportunities are great sites to focus your search. You can also go directly to the website of an environmental organization. Check out the following sites for some ideas:
- Workcabin.ca, Canada's outpost for environmental jobs, is a privately-owned and funded company that's focused on connecting qualified job seekers to meaningful job opportunities with leading employers in the environmental sector. Job postings on the site include volunteer, employment and internship opportunities.
- GoodWork Canada is Canada's most popular green job site. It connects passionate, green-minded people with opportunities to contribute and be employed. In partnership with PlanetVolunteer, the site has a dedicated site for volunteer opportunities.
- Earthsave Canada is a Vancouver-based non-profit, educational organization promoting awareness of the environmental, ethical and health consequences of our food choices. Some volunteer roles that the organization offers include drivers, researchers and event staff.
- B.E.S.T (Better Environmentally Sound Transportation) is a non-profit society that promotes and encourages the use of environmentally and socially responsible alternatives to the private automobile in Greater Vancouver. Get involved with BEST by becoming a volunteer.
- The Coquitlam Farmer's Market has been creating a gathering place for the community and an outlet for local crafters, bakers and farmers to sell their goods since 1996.Volunteers involved with the organization work 3 hour shifts on market day and are requested to commit a minimum of 2 shifts per month.
- Free Geek is a non-profit community organization that recycles used technology to provide computers, education, internet access and job skills training to those in need, in exchange for community service. You don't need computer experience to volunteer.
- Shark Truth is a not-for-profit consumer awareness group that seeks to engage consumers in a collaborative discussion to find alternatives to shark fin soup. The organization promotes awareness around the irreversibly detrimental effects of the shark finning industry, and specifically works with (and not against) consumers. This organization was founded by SFU alumni Claudia Li. Join the organization's team if you'd like to get experience in graphic design or animation.
- Northwest Wildlife Preservation Society is a Vancouver-based non-profit organization dedicated to advancing public awareness, knowledge and preservation of wildlife and wildlife systems in northwest North America. Joining the society's volunteer team is a great way to get directly involved and to have a lot fun.
- The David Suzuki Foundation is a well-known, Vancouver-based organization that works with government, business and individuals to conserve our environment by providing science-based education, advocacy and policy work. The organization also acts as a catalyst for the social change that today's situation demands. Volunteering for the foundation offers opportunities in research and special projects.
Many sites connect volunteers with non-profit organizations from all sectors. You may need to sift through these sites to find volunteer work in the green sector. Some of the most popular sites include the following:
- GoVolunteer.com, a site funded by the Human Resources Development Canada, can connect you to thousands of opportunities.
- Idealist.org is an interactive site where people and organizations can exchange resources and ideas, locate opportunities and supporters, and take steps toward building a world where all people can lead free and dignified lives. You can search for internship and volunteer opportunities on the site.
- CharityVillage.com is one of the leading online sources of information, news, jobs, services and resources for the Canadian nonprofit community. It has a search engine for volunteer opportunities.
- VolWeb.ca is a free and easy to use website that can help you find short-term volunteer opportunities at events. To use the site to look for opportunities, you need to fill out a short registration form.
The list provided here isn't exhaustive, but it should give you a good starting point. Volunteering is about gaining work-related skills, but it can also be about making a positive impact to your community.
Volunteer for an environmental organization today and get your feet wet in this exciting sector!
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