Volunteering opportunities are as different as the people who do them. If you’re a thrill-seeker, you may be interested in giving back in ways that are a bit more arduous, remote, or adrenaline-pumping. If so, an “extreme volunteering” opportunity might be right for you. (Please note that you may need specific training or abilities to participate in some of these opportunities.)
Working remotely takes on new meaning with some of the opportunities to volunteer in far-off and isolated places. The National Park Service offers opportunities to volunteer in remote parks. The NPS’s Artist in Residence program lets offer opportunities for writers, painters, photographers, and other types of artists to work and live in the parks for a period of time. You could work in a remote Alaskan cabin or at Texas’s Big Bend, to name two. The NPS also has a variety of other opportunities for those with a thirst for adventure, including citizen scientist posts and other opportunities to preserve the parks.
Love the water and all of the creatures in it? Then, you might find a thrilling volunteer opportunity there. You might go on a shark tagging expedition with the University of Miami. You’ll work with shark scientists on a one-day expedition. Or go diving or participate in whale identification projects as a NOAA Marine Sanctuaries volunteer. You may also check out heading to Honduras as a volunteer with the Whale Shark and Oceanic Research Center to work with whale sharks.
Extreme volunteering can also help people in dire need. When disaster strikes, organizations like Team Rubicon, National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, and the American Red Cross spring into action. These groups can give you the training and resources you need to help out in areas stricken by storms, fires, floods, or other natural and man-made disasters. While it’s generally not a good idea to self-deploy to hard-hit regions, volunteering with nonprofits like these can give you the opportunity to help others when they need it most without depleting area resources unnecessarily.
People living in extreme poverty, both in the U.S. and abroad, may live in dire conditions. Organizations like Extreme Response work with vulnerable populations and help them break free from extreme poverty. Build Abroad helps impoverished communities overseas with everything from spearheading water and sanitation projects to building schools and homes.
Volunteering can take you to the ends of the Earth—literally. The National Science Foundation has opportunities to work on the U.S. Antarctic Program. Each year, the NSF sends volunteers and workers to perform various roles at its station there. Not ready to go that extreme? Then help out at a Ski Duck location, giving disadvantaged children a chance to ski and snowboard and get a free lift pass for yourself, too.
Still looking for the right opportunity for you? Visit www.createthegood.org to find more ideas to help you give back.