04.1.14

DOI/VISTA Volunteer: An Opportunity for Your Organization?

Has your non-profit “friends” group considered applying for a VISTA volunteer to work with your organization? The U.S. Department of Interior Volunteers in Service to America (DOI/VISTA) initiative offers full-time, college-trained volunteers to serve with sponsoring organizations. They write grants, recruit and train volunteers, interpret data, foster and nurture partnerships, coordinate fundraisers, plan festivals, develop educational curricula, create outdoor classrooms, present at professional conferences and more.

The DOI/VISTA program aims to address the root causes of poverty and protect America’s natural resources, heritage, and tribal cultures, through community and economic development, environmental stewardship, and promoting healthy futures in underserved or impoverished communities neighboring Department of Interior resources. Youth engagement is a constant theme of the program.

Interested organizations must go through a three-step application process with DOI and VISTA for approval. Once approved, sponsoring organizations pay $15,000 for each full-time position annually (with the DOI/VISTA program paying the rest of the worker’s salary, healthcare, and varying education and housing awards) and commit to a three-year project.

To be considered as a sponsoring organization, projects must demonstrate a need for a DOI/VISTA in the community. The project must clearly define how it will work to help move people out of poverty, and there must be definitive and achievable goals for the DOI/VISTA to accomplish. The project must work towards sustainability and demonstrate that it will be able to function without the assistance of a DOI /VISTA after three years.vistagraphic

Several organizations in the Friends Grassroots Network have taken advantage of this program. For example, Brian Amstutz joined the Western Slope Conservation Center in Paonia, CO as an Americorps OSM/VISTA for the Western Hardrock Watershed Team.  He is working on communications projects and outreach for the Conservation Center. Before joining the Center, Brian volunteered for the National Park Service in backcountry and photography roles, worked as a White House stenographer, copy editor, and research assistant, and was active in transportation alternative movements. Sarah Sauter, the Center’s Executive Director, says the program has helped the Conservation Center fill a much-needed role in the community with a budget the organization could afford.

Applications are due at the end of April, so don’t delay. To learn more about this opportunity and how to apply, please contact:

Allan Comp, Ph.D. email: tcomp@osmre.gov
Coordinator, OSM/VISTA Teams
Office of Surface Mining
1951 Constitution Avenue NW MS 121
202-208-2836

or

April Trent, email: teamdirector@coalcountryteam.org
Executive Director, Conservation Legacy VISTA Program
Appalachian Coal Country Team | Western Hardrock Watershed Team | DOI/VISTA Team
2795 Robert C Byrd Drive | Beckley WV 25801
w 304-252-4848  | c 304-731-3879