How to Volunteer on Vacation
Leave your travel destination better than how you found it
One Gun Ranch. This biodynamic farm in Malibu, where the primary goal is education, invites volunteers to help out in the garden and holds monthly classes on sustainable growing methods.
Surfers Healing. Pro surfer Israel Paskowitz and his wife founded this organization for their autistic son, whose sensory overload issues were assuaged by riding waves. Based in San Juan Capistrano, the group offers volunteer opportunities all along the West Coast.
Jackson Hole Therapeutic Riding Association. Pairing military veterans and disabled individuals of all ages with horses, JHTRA achieves life-changing results.
Maui Humane Society. Missing your pup while away? The organization’s Beach Buddies Visitor Program allows travelers to explore the island with one of the shelter’s dogs by their side. Equipped with a leash and a backpack full of gear, volunteers can take their dog for a hike in the hills, a jaunt through town, or just a day on the sand.
Solid Ground. A non-profit devoted to food justice and ending poverty, Solid Ground invites volunteers to jump right in at either of two community farms in South Seattle. From planting seeds to harvesting and distributing vegetables, participants can help get fresh crops from the farms onto well-deserving tables.
The Nature Conservancy. For over five decades, global nonprofit The Nature Conservancy has spearheaded efforts to protect Oregon’s bountiful landscape from threats of overfishing, forest fires, and diminishing wildlife. With more than 40 nature preserves across the state, their team and volunteers restore water sources and rehab grasslands, forests, and wetlands where native species thrive. Sign up for a one-day restoration project to improve areas like the Ellsworth Creek Preserve, a 7,600 acre watershed and old-growth forest home to 800-year-old Sitka spruce and Western red cedar, threatened seabirds, black bear, and elk, and vital streams that serve as spawning ground for coho and chum salmon. Plus, with adjacent Cape Disappointment’s 27 miles of ocean beach, hiking trails, and kayaking, it’s a perfect add-on to your next camping adventure.
Ronald McDonald House Charities. Take a break from Seattle’s buzzing food and art scene to spend some time at the local Ronald McDonald House Charities. The organization provides housing and support to families whose children are receiving treatment at the Seattle Children’s Hospital. While local volunteers can help prep and serve daily meals, manager of volunteer services, Judy Adams, says opportunities are available for visitors from all over the country. Those passing through can host a weekend movie night with snacks and a kids’ flick, or opt to lead RMHC guests through a specialized activity, like your favorite craft, kid-friendly yoga, or even a dance lesson. Weekly Friday pizza nights are also a great opportunity to serve food to and chat with up to 80 families who travel from across Washington, Alaska, Montana, Idaho, and beyond for top medical treatments and practitiioners.