Impact Giving | Donors Support Leadership Development

Every year, thousands of Mountaineers members choose to give back to the community as volunteers. Financial donations strengthen our programs and invest in volunteer leaders by providing leadership development opportunities.
The Mountaineers The Mountaineers
July 01, 2023
Impact Giving | Donors Support Leadership Development
Scramblers near Panorama Point. Photo by Nancy Lloyd.

The Mountaineers is internationally known for high-quality outdoor education and experiences, yet many people are surprised when they find out that our programs are almost entirely led by volunteers. 

Volunteers plan and lead activities, write curricula for courses, and serve as mentors for newer outdoor enthusiasts. They host visitors at our lodges and upkeep our facilities. They maintain trails and write for Mountaineer magazine. They serve on committees to support the administration of our activities, branches, outdoor centers, and strategic priorities. Last year more than 3,000 members chose to volunteer their time so that others could have meaningful outdoor experiences.

Volunteers give their time for the obvious intrinsic benefits: the joy of teaching, camaraderie with a growing community in their chosen activity, or a passion for the natural world. For many, additional perks aren’t necessary, but can help them feel appreciated and supported in their work. Donor-supported leadership development is one of those perks.

Donations Fund the Leadership Development Series

Mountaineers Volunteer Development Manager, Michelle Song, keeps her finger on the pulse of outdoor education and the desires of our volunteer network. She works with industry leaders and experts to support the development of professional-quality seminars for our unique community and creates a Leadership Development Series lineup throughout the fall, winter, and spring. These seminars are free for members and allow people to learn more about the leadership topics that are interesting and relevant to them.

“Volunteers are always looking for new tools to add to their toolkit,” Michelle says. “They have the technical skill set, and they want new ideas for how to instruct, make decisions, make things safer, or have more fun. I think that’s why the Leadership Development Series is so neat: volunteers are experts in their own right, and they’re coming to figure out what they could do better.” 

Attending a seminar may also provide a boost in confidence for an aspiring volunteer leader to take the plunge. “These sessions are open to everyone—even brand new members who haven’t even taken a course yet. It’s another way to stay engaged with our vision and opens up opportunities for people who are new and seasoned alike. We take participation and leadership in outdoor activities seriously and we want to do it right.” 

The Leadership Development Series is made possible through donations. In the 2023 series we were able to bring back some favorites like Near-Misses Are Telling You Something - Are You Listening? and The Assumption of Risk Defense in Real Life. Volunteers also loved some of the new offerings such as How Much Longer? Exploring the Journey toward Racial Equity and Inclusion in Nature and Adult Mental Health First Aid USA Certification.

Supporting Leadership Across The Mountaineers Community

More than 350 members attended seminars in the 2022-2023 season. And because almost all of the seminars were offered online, volunteers from all seven branches were able to benefit. “It’s great to see representation across activities, too,” Michelle says. “We get volunteers from Olympia Stewardship, Foothills Hiking, Everett Climbing, and Seattle Sea Kayaking all in the same ‘room’ sharing wisdom and ideas. I hope that brings more enjoyment and a deeper experience. It’s another way to stay engaged with our vision.” 

A robust community of volunteers is essential not only to our programs, but also to our mission priorities. We want to lead innovation in outdoor education; volunteers are the leaders and innovators. We want to engage a vibrant community of outdoor enthusiasts; volunteers are the ones on the ground creating inclusive spaces and memorable experiences. We want to advocate on behalf of the natural world; volunteers are raising their own voices and helping others fall in love with the places we seek to protect.

The annual Leadership Development Series is made possible by our community of donors, many of whom are volunteers themselves! Donations allow us to bring professional-quality training to volunteer leaders at every level and invest in a future where safe and inclusive outdoor education is available to anyone who wants it.

Your support makes a difference

The 2023 Leadership Development Series has just wrapped up, and we are already starting to work on next year’s lineup. Your donation will invest in the recognition and development of volunteer leaders across The Mountaineers. And if you have an idea for a presentation topic or know a possible presenter for the 2022-2024 Leadership Development Series, we want to hear from you! Please submit your topic proposal or presenter nominations using this form, or contact Michelle Song

The Mountaineers® is a 501(c)(3) organization supported through earned revenue and elevated through charitable contributions. Our staff work to support our seven branches (Bellingham, Everett, Foothills, Kitsap, Olympia, Seattle, and Tacoma), three lodges (Baker, Meany, and Stevens), and our Kitsap Forest Theater. Tax ID: 27-3009280. 7700 Sand Point Way NE, Seattle, WA 98115.