How to Get Involved

As an older adult, you have a tremendous opportunity to make a real impact that will help future generations. Retirees are a particularly valuable resource in the volunteer community. Your time, expertise, and life experiences are appreciated in all sorts of organizations including local government, community organizations, and community improvement projects – to name just a few.

For many, getting involved will mean volunteering at an environmental or community-based organization. Others may volunteer with a government agency or other group. A few may devote themselves to a specific cause outside of an organization or group, such as cleaning up a natural area or setting up a recycling program. However, to effectively address their cause, they will most likely need to work in partnerships with other agencies. 

Here are some steps to take to find a fulfilling opportunity.

Identify your skills and interests

Most organizations encourage their volunteers to bring their skills, talents, and passions to their volunteer roles. 

When looking for an opportunity, start by spending some time thinking about your interests. What excites and motivates you? How do you prefer to spend your time? What are your personal strengths? What personal and professional experiences do you bring to the table?

It is also important to think about things you do not want to do. Do you have any physical limitations? Are there tasks you find especially boring or unfulfilling?

By thinking about what you would enjoy doing and taking stock of your personal attributes, you can find a fulfilling and valuable volunteer opportunity.

Think about your commitment level

Before you start your search, consider how much time want to committee to volunteering. It may be helpful to look at a calendar and consider your daily schedule. Be sure to leave time for other things in your life including prior commitments and leisure time.

You can avoid over-committing yourself to a volunteer opportunity by having a clear idea of how much time you want to spend volunteering. 

Brainstorm and research opportunities

Now spend some time thinking about the organizations and people in your area. Do any of your family or friends have connections to experiences with organizations that interest you? What natural resources are located in your community?  Can you think of any government or non-profit organizations that spark your interest?

The Internet is full of resources on volunteer opportunities. Try a web site like Volunteer Match to look for volunteer roles in your area. 

As you think about your options, keep in mind that places and people what make you feel the most energized. Now that you’ve thought about your skills, interests and commitment level, be intentional about identifying opportunities that fit with your own personal goals. This will help you to find a volunteer opportunity that makes you feel more fulfilled in the long run.

Reach out

When you find an opportunity that interests you, reach out! Be sure to share your own personal goals, skills and interests with the organization, and ask plenty of questions about the details of the volunteer role. 

Find out more about how the organization is run and what the culture is like. If you can, talk to other people who are involved at the organization. Think about yourself as vetting the organization to find out if they fit with your personal goals. It’s up to you as a volunteer to take responsibility and ask for what you need and want. By communicating your expectations and motivations, you can find an opportunity that fits your needs.

Try it out

When you find an opportunity that interests and energizes you, it’s a good idea to try it out first. Ask if you can start by volunteering for a short-term position initially to determine if the role is a good fit for you. If you like it, you can share your long-term goals with the organizations and make a bigger commitment.

Five pro tips on finding a rewarding volunteer opportunity

Know your skills.

Over the course of your life, you’ve accumulated knowledge and experience that would be an incredible asset to many organizations. Think about what you have to skills offer.


Know your passion.

What excited and energizes you? How do you want to spend your time? Reflect back on your life experiences to the times when you felt most fulfilled, and see out a volunteer opportunity that taps into those same feelings.


Be realistic about your availability.

Communicate with your volunteer coordinator about your level of commitment. It can be best to start small; it is easy to fill up your schedule and become burnt out. You can always dedicate more time later if you like.


Keep an open mind.

Volunteer opportunities can be novel experiences, and it’s never too late to discover something new that you enjoy! Maybe you will find a type of work you never realized you loved. If not, keep those lines of communication open with your volunteer coordinator so that you can try something else.


Details are important.

Thoroughly research organizations you are interested in and, if possible, talk to some current and former volunteers. What is the culture of the organization? How to they pursue their goals? Does their mission match with your personal beliefs?


Opportunity search: Where to look for climate-related positions

Most communities offer dozens of ways to engage in climate advocacy. Reach out to:

  • A local land conservation organization
  • Your local watershed management group
  • A cooperative extension office
  • An area science or nature center
  • Your local trail maintenance organization
  • Online platforms such as
  • A national organization such as Americorps