September has arrived and it’s time to celebrate Volunteer Appreciation Month!
To our wonderful volunteers: thank you for all of your hard work and dedication, we couldn’t ask for a more perfect group of people that commit their time to helping us protect the Sonoran Desert. We have several events lined up this month and we look forward to continuing working with you!
If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Jessica at email@example.com
Coming up right around the corner is our next Oracle Road Highway Cleanup with our Highway Cleanup Crew!
Help us collect trash along Oracle Rd near the wildlife crossing structures! We’ll be meeting at our regular spot near the corner of Oracle Road and E. Vistoso Commerce Loop Rd. near the south end of our cleanup area (see MAP here). Gloves, safety vests, snacks and drinks, trash bags, and pick-up sticks (grabbers) are provided. You’re welcome to join us for as long as you like.
Here is a highlighted list of other volunteer opportunities you can participate in!
Remote Volunteer Opportunities
Identify the species on our wildlife camera photos from home.
We can always use lots of help sorting wildlife photos as a Desert Identifier! You do need a PC computer for this activity, and internet access to download photos. Desert Identifiers work remotely and on their own schedule. We do ask that you aim to complete your assigned photo packet in a month’s time, or check in on your progress each month. Species ID can be challenging and fun, and we’re here to help you learn! If you don’t have a PC computer but are interested in this volunteer role, let us know – we now have a few PC laptops we can loan to volunteers!
Write letters to the editor and submit public comments on urgent issues.
Desert Project Managers
This leadership role involves working with the wildlife camera monitoring database for one of our study areas, using Microsoft Access. This is someone who is detailed oriented and has experience as a Desert Monitor, database entry, and wildlife species Identification.
Field Work Volunteer Opportunities:
Monthly hike to check wildlife cameras with a team. Desert Monitors check their cameras once per month and physical hiking ability is a requirement for this activity. Getting to a camera site often requires navigating over rough terrain, in desert habitat, hiking anywhere between 1 to 8 miles round-trip (you will not need any special outdoor hiking clothes or gear). For safety, Desert Monitors work in pairs or small groups. Please let us know if you would prefer being matched with a team, or if you want to form your own team with friends or family (everyone must sign the volunteer agreement form). Project areas with camera sites available are currently in Oro Valley near Catalina State Park and Big Wash, and the Tucson Mountains near El Rio Preserve and Avra Valley Rd. We will provide everything you need to do the job, teach you how to use wildlife cameras in the field and basic field safety, and how to submit the photos after your outing. Cameras operate year-round, but we have two 5-month survey seasons so volunteers can take a break during the hot summer months: the Spring Survey Season is January – May, and the Fall Survey Season is August – December. Teams are expected to visit each of their cameras at least 5 times for each survey season.
Desert Monitor Team Leaders
A Desert Monitor that serves as a point person between CSDP staff and a Desert Monitor team. Roles include initiating and scheduling field dates, taking responsibility for the SD cards and submitting the photos, and bringing required field supplies. A team might have more than one team leader who split, alternate, or share these duties.
Coordinated walking, driving and biking roadkill surveys, or report what you see anytime on our iNaturalist project. Roadkill surveys provide valuable information that help us construct wildlife crossings and funnel fencing to reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions and increase safe passage for wildlife across roadways. Surveys are done in small teams by foot, car, or by bike, and data is collected using a GPS unit and a datasheet, or a smartphone. We do not currently have any active Desert Roadie project but will be starting up again with a Roadkill Survey week in April 2023. In the meantime, you can report roadkill sightings (with date and location information) on our iNaturalist project page at: https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/csdp-safe-passages.
Group Volunteering Events:(see our Calendar for upcoming event dates)
Desert Fence Busters
Barbwire fence removal events (see calendar for dates and registration). We collaborate with a group of community partners on the Desert Fence Busters project. This involves removing old barbed-wire fencing from the landscape, largely focused in Avra Valley west of the Tucson Mountains. This is hard, physical work with immediate positive results for wildlife movement. We typically hold 4-5 events throughout the year and take a break during the hot summer months.
Environmental education through outreach events or presentations or helping implement the Critter Cam for Kids Curriculum in 5th grade classrooms.
Desert Mailing Parties
Gatherings to help stuff, stamp, and address envelopes for CSDP’s mailings, with music, food, and fun (see calendar for dates). We host mailing parties in the spring and fall, and depending on need. We meet at the Historic Y near downtown Tucson and fold, stuff, address, and stamp envelopes, typically for our fundraising campaigns. There is always fun music and snacks! On occasion we host these events as “Mailing Parties on Tour,” where volunteers can also help complete the work from home.
Desert Highway Clean Up Crews
We have been hosting quarterly trash pick-up events along our adopted stretch of Oracle Road, near the wildlife crossing structures, for many years now. This activity has been on hold during the Covid-19 pandemic but we hope to start up again in 2023. Stay tuned.
Documenting species using the iNaturalist app during our community BioBlitz events.