Volunteers Donate More than 17,000 Hours to Stewardship of Casco Bay

Organizations Engage Volunteers in Wide Range of Roles


Volunteers for nonprofit and state government environmental organizations engage in important work. Their efforts contribute to the health and resilience of their communities. They may also develop personal connections with the Bay’s ecosystem and become more deeply involved in the Bay’s protection and restoration. The number of hours donated by volunteers for environmental stewardship is one measure of how connected people are to Casco Bay and how committed they are to protecting it.
Land trusts in the Casco Bay region rely heavily on volunteers. This volunteer for the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust is collecting water in Mill Brook to be analyzed for E. coli. Photo: PRLT


CBEP in 2020 canvassed 26 nonprofit and state government environmental organizations active in Casco Bay and its watershed about volunteer stewardship and heard back from 13 organizations, 9 of which were land trusts.

Volunteers donated 17,369 hours worth an estimated $441,694 to 13 organizations in 2019.
Volunteers from Idexx help Maine Island Trail Association dismantle a derelict float on Little Chebeague Island. The lumber was repurposed to build a boardwalk on the island. Photo: Chris Wall
Most volunteers are 65 or older, but some programs attract more youth and young adult volunteers.

Types of Volunteer Opportunities

Data from 13 environmental organizations show that the most common volunteer opportunities are, from most to least common, as follows: land stewardship, one-time events, education and outreach, office work, citizen science and other.
The most common volunteer roles according to 13 nonprofit and state government environmental organizations that provided data to CBEP.
Volunteers particpate in a Portland Trails work day on the Stroudwater River Trail. Photo: Garrick Hoffman
Volunteer recruitment generally is not a challenge, but staff capacity to execute projects and manage volunteers is.

Successes and challenges

  • CBEP’s canvassing of nonprofit and state government environmental organizations asked respondents to describe successes and challenges related to engaging volunteers in stewardship. The following quotations are representative of the range of responses:
    “We’ve learned that on the whole, working with volunteers does not save us time or money. However, it’s an extremely rewarding and important way of engaging our communities with land conservation.”
    “Couldn’t live without them.”
  • Several organizations cited long-term retention of volunteers and multi-year engagement as their greatest volunteer program successes.
  • Leading nature walks, monitoring water quality, and participating in citizen science projects provide unique opportunities for volunteers. Popular public events can also be built around these topics.