Olympia Branch Challenges You to Give Back through Stewardship

For the last five years, the Olympia Branch's Conservation and Stewardship Committee has challenged its members to give back to our public lands and waters through stewardship. This year, they’re calling on all Mountaineers to participate in at least one day of stewardship. Are you up to the challenge?
Jim French Jim French
co-char, Olympia Conservation & Stewardship Committee
April 17, 2023
Olympia Branch Challenges You to Give Back through Stewardship
Lead image of an Olympia Branch Stewardship work party. Photo by Jim French.

Mountaineers members play a hands-on role in protecting, restoring, and maintaining the lands and waters of our region. The practice of stewardship brings Mountaineers together from across branches and activities to care for the places where we recreate so that they continue to thrive for future generations.

The Olympia Conservation and Stewardship Committee partners with the Olympic National Forest, Capitol Land Trust, other non-profits, and several state-managed public lands in the Olympia area to engage its members in stewardship. In addition to trail work and other common stewardship activities, the branch offers certification for crosscut sawing and a few unique volunteer opportunities in support of conservation initiatives like translocation of Mountain Goats from the Olympic Mountains.

For many Mountaineers members, stewardship is a lesser-known activity. The Pacific Northwest landscape abounds with trails to travel, mountains to climb and scramble, waterways to paddle, and an immense diversity of ecosystems to explore. Each spring, the Olympia Branch issues a Stewardship Challenge to encourage members to help preserve and restore these places where we love to recreate.

Stewardship Challenge

This is the sixth year the Olympia Branch has issued a Stewardship Challenge to encourage Mountaineers to spend a day caring for our public lands and private conservation areas. We first issued the challenge because so many of our members and leaders recognized signs of environmental stress and damage in our region’s natural places.

Recreationists and lovers of the natural world are experiencing how soaring visitation, increased flooding and wildfire, aging infrastructure, and severe under-funding affect the campgrounds, roads, and trails of our public lands. And it’s getting worse.

While many popular trails and recreation destinations are typically well-maintained thanks to the work of dedicated trail stewardship organizations like Washington Trails AssociationPacific Crest Trail Association, and the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust, there are many less-visited trails and public lands that need our help. Now more than ever, the parks and recreation areas that we love need our attention and care.

Are you up to the challenge? Participate in a day of stewardship

Whether you’ve participated in stewardship for years or are looking to get involved for the first time, there’s something for everyone. Most stewardship activities require no prior experience or knowledge. Tools and other equipment are generally provided, and there is sure to be a friendly outdoor enthusiast on hand to gladly show you the ropes!

Each year, hundreds of Mountaineers participate in stewardship, and many Mountaineers courses include the Stewardship Credit badge as a graduation requirement. To earn this badge and meet the challenge, individuals must complete a full day, or six hours, of stewardship through The Mountaineers or an outside organization. If you attend a work party that’s facilitated by an outside organization, please forward your confirmation email to info@mountaineers.org after completing your stewardship hours  to receive this badge.

Earn Stewardship Credit

I hope you’ll join me in this year’s stewardship challenge and spend a little time caring for our lands and waters so we can leave them better than we found them. The Mountaineers Stewardship Opportunities page and branch newsletters are great places to learn about upcoming opportunities near you.


Stewardship Reflections from Olympia Members

At every Olympia stewardship work party, we ask attendees what brought them there and what they hope to get out of the experience. Some respond that it’s simply a way to give back, or that taking time for stewardship is only fair after utilizing public lands for recreation. Stewardship can also be a way to cope with the hard truths of environmental degradation and climate change - it can make you feel like you’re doing something meaningful to defend the environment. For many, it satisfies an internal drive to be in nature, to care for something natural, and help it heal. Here’s what a few of our Olympia Branch volunteers had to say about their motivation to participate in stewardship.

  • “It is an excuse to spend time outdoors in a special place among towering trees, flowers, wildlife, fresh air, sparkling water, solitude, and natural beauty. It is an area where we can be challenged both mentally and physically to do the right thing and to strive for perfection, letting nature be our guide. But beyond that, and most importantly, it is an opportunity to leave a personal legacy by helping to preserve or restore a small piece of the natural world for others to enjoy.” - Rich Curtis, original member of the Olympia Conservation and Stewardship Committee.

  • “I enjoy the exhilarating feeling of having accomplished something meaningful for the community. There is a vibrant, uplifting energy amongst the participants of any stewardship activity, as well as a deep sense of connection to the natural world.” - Kathy Fox, co-chair of the Olympia Conservation and Stewardship Committee.

  • “It’s my friends in The Mountaineers and my parents (longtime volunteers) and my own need to help out in a cause I have always cared about that motivated me [to get involved with stewardship]. I enjoy the camaraderie, the fresh air and exercise, the natural setting, the sense of purpose and accomplishment, and the general feeling of well-being you get from being out there.” - Rich Geier, an Olympia Branch stewardship leader.

  • “Throughout my lifetime, I have consistently volunteered for groups and projects that made me feel connected to others in my community. Trail maintenance ticks several boxes for me. In addition to providing a much-needed service, it combines my intellectual and my physical skills; I get to work in nature; and best of all, I do it with people who are giving and kind.” - Dawn Rorvik, an Olympia Branch stewardship leader.

Join us for the 2023 Stewardship Challenge

Last year, 627 Mountaineers members participated in a day of stewardship and received their Stewardship Credit badge. This year, we are challenging every Mountaineer to participate. With countless ways to get involved, we hope you’ll join us to help enrich the planet and leave it better than you found it.