Stepping into Stewardship: A Resource Guide for Getting Involved
in Volunteer Stewardship Activities
Buffer Your Backyard - If you own property by a stream, river, lake or wetland, consider buffering it. Buffers are plants other than grass along the water's edge. They filter and slow water draining into a waterway. Excess water running off lawns, roadways and sidewalks during storms can pick up unprotected soil, toxic substances, heavy metals and nutrients that may have been applied to land. These pollutants harm the health of local waterways and larger watersheds.
Water monitoring - If you are interested in the health of our waterways, consider water quality monitoring. Sample a local creek or stream and share results with other monitors as part of DEQ's Water Quality Monitoring Programs.
Restore your streambank - Streams are a product of the land they drain, and their water reflects streamside land management practices, good and bad. Much can be done to protect clean streams and restore damaged ones. Since private lands are where most streams lie, their fate depends largely on wise management by landowners. Visit the Virginia Dept. of Game and Inland Fisheries website for details.
Clean up litter - Help remove litter in and along Virginia's waterways and roadways by supporting or organizing a local cleanup project. Anti-litter activities help local businesses, civic groups, watershed associations, churches, schools, scouts and others step into stewardship. Here are some programs that can help.
Get rid of "the weeds" - Curb the attack of invasive exotic plant species on our landscape. Learn which ones live nearby and what you can do to stop them from spreading. Getting rid of "the weeds" can be a great project for landowners, youth groups, conservation organizations and others. Click here for a list of species that have invaded Virginia and to learn how to manage them.
Trail projects - Trails offer transportation alternatives, connect communities, parks and neighborhoods, and provide serene places for families to get away from traffic, noise and pollution. They provide a valuable wilderness experience and teach children the importance of natural resources conservation. Whether it's hiking, biking or horseback riding, trails are great places to enjoy the outdoors. For information on trail building and maintenance opportunities, click here. You might also find DCR's Greenways and Trails Toolbox useful as well.
To help with a trail project, contact your local park, or a state park in your area. Click here or call 1-800-933-PARK to find a nearby state park.
The Virginia Department of Historic Resources (DHR) invites volunteers to work with its artifacts. For details, call the chief curator at (804) 367-2323, ext. 134. Also, take part in Virginia Archaeology Month activities and events, which are held throughout the commonwealth, every October. Click here for details on either of these offerings. Click here to learn about other DHR educational resources, such as teaching kits, lesson plans and exhibits.
Virginians share the Old Dominion with a wide array of native plants and animals. The state ranks eighth in the United States for globally rare animals and 14th for globally rare plants.
Teach others about outdoor and cultural resources. Good stewardship grows from creating awareness, understanding and appreciation for our outdoor resources. Teachers, youth leaders, civic organizations, sportsmen's groups and others can help set that stage by exposing children to the outdoors through educational activities and experiences. There are many educational resources and programs that can help. Listed below are just a few. Visit Virginia Naturally for more information.
Outdoor restoration can make schooling come alive and add meaning to science. Develop areas of the school campus or an off-site study area(s) in the community as an outdoor classroom.
Help build a better outdoors for fish and wildlife by enhancing habitat. It doesn't matter if you have a small backyard or a huge farm; there are many ways to improve wildlife habitat. Consider landscaping for songbirds, managing for deer, turkey or quail, or improving the fishing in your pond with artificial reefs. Habitat improvement projects are fun and rewarding and range from easy to intensive. Everybody can help.
Learn about the Va. Dept. of Game and Inland Fisheries Landowner Incentive Program (LIP).
Become a Wildlife Mapper - Wildlife mappers are volunteers who submit observations to the state's wildlife database. This joint citizen-scientist team effort helps the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries keep track of the state's wildlife resources. To become a mapper, you must attend a half-day workshop. Wildlife mapping is a fun for children, citizens, community groups, and other city, county and state organizations. Click here for more information and a schedule of workshops.
Marine fisheries conservation - Tag a fish: Catch, tag and release fish with fellow saltwater fishermen. By participating in the Virginia Game Fish Tagging Program (VGFTP), you help develop information needed to conserve and manage saltwater fish. The Virginia Marine Resources Commission sponsors this annual program. Participants register in December and January; training takes place in February and targets many popular saltwater species.
Special tagging events: The VGFTP is planning several one-day tagging events next year. Open to the public (some require pre-registration), you'll learn about tagging fish, talk with program managers and veteran taggers, and enjoy a little fishing.
Catch-and-release fishing: Catch-and-release fishing is a great way to learn about conservation first-hand. Learn about the best equipment and how to handle fish to ensure that they remain in good health. Many species of released fish are eligible for recognition through the Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament, and the Virginia Junior Angler Program recognizes only released fish. Click here to learn more about these programs.