SJMA Volunteer Opportunities

Volunteers are the heart of the San Juan Mountains Association. Our volunteers are the way we truly connect with the land and its users.

SJMA has a wide variety of volunteer programs to meet a broad range of interests from visitor outreach to outdoor education to stewardship projects and more!

View our Event Calendar for all Volunteer Training Opportunities.

Interested in volunteering? Contact SJMA’s Volunteer Services Director, Erica Tucker.

Visitor Information Volunteers

Front Desk Ambassadors

Do you enjoy talking with people, promoting responsible use of our public lands, sharing your love of the San Juan Mountains? If you answered “yes”, consider becoming an Front Desk Ambassador Volunteer!

Becoming an Front Deck Ambassador Volunteer is an exciting way to connect people to the outdoors in Southwest Colorado. We are looking for volunteers in Durango’s San Juan Public Lands Center, the Pagosa Ranger District and the Dolores Public Lands office from May – October, 4 to 6 hours (one-day per week).

As a Front Desk Ambassador, here are some of the areas you will be trained:

  • Answering questions from recreation to land stewardship
  • Encouraging Leave No Trace principles and responsible use of our public lands
  • Offering assistance to our Visitor Front Desk and SJMA Book Stores
VIS ladies
Volunteer Information Specialists

Hunting Information Booth

Each fall, SJMA organizes the SJMA Hunting Information Booth, located in front of the Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) Durango office. It offers a one-stop shop for hunters so they can pick up their hunting license at the CPW office and ask SJMA visitor information volunteers any questions they have about the surrounding public lands.

The booth has been a huge success!  By the end of the big game rifle season, we speak to thousands of hunters from all over the country.  We sell SJMA products (including maps, guidebooks, and other interpretive products), give out hundreds of Motor Vehicle Use Maps (MVUMs) representing the different motorized use areas of the San Juan National Forest, and discuss leave no trace principles, forest regulations, fire restrictions, unit boundary locations, and more!

Hunting Booth at Colorado Park & Wildlife Office

Volunteer Educators

Volunteer Educators for Kid Programs
Do you love kids? Spending time in nature? Want to hone your outdoor teaching skills, all while enjoying beautiful locations at the Durango Nature Center and local National Forest land? If you answered “yes”, consider becoming a Volunteer Educator.

SJMA Volunteer Educators help us deliver experiential outdoor education programs to elementary and middle school groups. As an volunteer educator, you will help connect kids to nature while serving your community. Volunteers will lead small group activities related to various natural history and environmental science concepts. No experience or special skill sets required, other than a desire to connect kids with nature.

San Juan Science Ramblers, After-School Program

Volunteer Interpretive Educators

Interpretive Educator Volunteers lead wildflower hikes, teach others about bird identification or can create unique programs of their own. Volunteers with special knowledge of the outdoors are invited to share their expertise through interpretive hikes, field seminars & other educational programs on San Juan Public Lands. Training is available. Come learn and pass on your knowledge of the area to others!

A volunteer opportunity available every summer (June – August) is guiding visitors on weekly Purgatory Nature Hikes. SJMA provides training to a team of naturalist volunteers that then share their knowledge with anyone interested in these free hikes. Check out the types of Interpretive Programming we currently offer.

Purgatory Nature Hike, led by Volunteer Naturalist

Stewardship Volunteers

San Juan Volunteer Program

The San Juan Volunteer Program is an expansion of SJMA’s long-running Wilderness Information Specialist (WIS) / Ghost Rider program. For over 30 years, our volunteers have had the unique opportunity to positively affect the thousands of visitors to the San Juan Mountains by providing trail information, wilderness education, recreating responsibly, and Leave No Trace ethics. 

Visitor outreach is critical for the health of the San Juan National Forest. In recent years, due to the high number of visitors to the area, popular trails have suffered a number of impacts like pet and human waste (and toilet paper), trash, trail braiding and fire scars. These impacts have affected many of the sensitive high-alpine environment.

San Juan Wilderness Volunteers, 2011
Ice Lakes Educational Basecamp 2020

ON THE TRAIL….Volunteers can hike, snowshoe, horseback ride or ski into our most popular areas and greet visitors. Trails of focus include, but are not limited to Ice Lakes, Chicago Basin (Needle Creek), Vallecito, Pine River, Lake Fork (Emerald Lake), Elk Creek, Highland Mary, Pass Creek, and Colorado Trail.

AT THE TRAILHEADS…SJMA is expanding our successful Ice Lakes Educational Basecamp to have a presence at additional wildly popular trailheads throughout the San Juan National Forest.

Each spring, SJMA conducts training for our San Juan Volunteers. View our calendar for all Volunteer Training opportunities. For more information on the San Juan Volunteer Program check out our San Juan Volunteer Handbook.

Adopt-a-Road – “Eyes and the Ears of the Forest”

Did you know that for over 20 years, SJMA has organized a group of dedicated volunteers to take care of Forest Service Roads? These are everyday citizens getting involved in stewarding their lands. What do they do?

  • Pick up trash from roadsides
  • Clean up dispersed campsites
  • Check culverts of debris
  • Connect with visitors while encouraging responsible behavior
  • Upgrade Forest Service signs

If you are interested in adopting a forest road, contact our founding member, Patti Brady.

Adopt-a-Road long-time volunteer, Olie Foster

Single Day Events

Each year, SJMA organizes events around days recognized for giving back to our public lands. If you are interested any of the upcoming events, contact our Volunteer Services Director, Erica Tucker.

National Public Lands Day (NPLD) is the largest single day volunteer event in the nation. Since 1997, SJMA has been organizing events with public land partners. NPLD occurs the fourth Saturday in September.

Colorado Public Lands Day (CPLD) celebrates how our public lands are central to Colorado’s economy and quality of life. CPLD occurs the third weekend in May. 

National Trails Day® (NTD) features a series of outdoor activities, designed to promote and celebrate the importance of trails in the United States. NTD occurs the first weekend in June each year.

Single Day Volunteer Event

Christmas Tree Lot

Christmas Trees for Conservation Lot 

Give the gift of time to your public lands each holiday season. Improve forest help, support stewardship and conservation education programs by volunteering to help cut and gather local white fir trees, set up the tree lot or sell trees to folks in our community. The Christmas Tree sale is a terrific opportunity for service groups, social organizations and individuals to support their local public lands.

Volunteering for a 3 hour shift at the sale is a wonderful way to spend time during the special season. You’ll see people you know from around the area and help them purchase the perfect tree for their holiday.

Tree Lot Volunteers

Signups are now available for 2021 season – signup today!


What: Help carry, collect, net and transport white firs from San Juan National Forest

When: Nov. 20, 2021 from 8:30am – 5:00pm (morning and afternoon shifts available)

Where: Animas overlook, 7 miles up Junction Creek Road


What: Help unload, set up both white and balsam firs

When: Nov. 22, 2021 from 8:00am – 3:00pm
(morning and afternoon shifts available)

Where: Corner of Camino del Rio and College Avenue (Train parking lot)


What: Sign up for a 3 hour shift to help sell our Christmas Trees

When: Nov. 26, 2021 through Dec. 19, 2021
Sundays – Fridays from 12:00pm – 6:00pm
Saturdays from 9:00am – 6:00pm

Where: Corner of Camino del Rio and College Avenue (Train parking lot)

Volunteer Documents