Thursday, June 20, 2013

Cool Careers- Jarret Roberts | Community Programs Director at Wildlands Restoration Volunteers

Written by Amanda Barrell

Despite only being a Boy Scout for one day, Jarret Roberts has had a love for the outdoors since he was little.  Roberts was born and raised in Boulder, Colorado and some of his favorite childhood memories consist of hiking in the foothills behind his parent’s house near NCAR, visits to Rocky Mountain National Park in Estes Park, and fishing.

In 2009, Roberts heard from one of his friends in the Student Conservation Assocation about a seasonal position opening up at Wildlands Restoration Volunteers.  His previous experience and knowledge from working with the City of Boulder Junior Rangers and SCA gave Roberts an edge and he got the job with WRV.

“WRV is a lot like the Junior Ranger program, but on a much larger scale,” Roberts said.  “Change [that] happens in a weekend would take three to four months with the Junior Ranger program.”

Reaching out to over 5,000 people, Wildlands Restoration Volunteers is a non-profit organization that provides an opportunity for people to come together, learn about their natural environment, and take direct action to restore and care for the land.

Today, Roberts is the Community Programs Director for WRV, a position that incorporates training, project planning and marketing.  As a relatively small non-profit, WRV trains and positions their volunteers as leaders within the organization.

“We rely on volunteer leadership.  Fifty percent of what WRV does is community building, training people and giving them skills so that the community itself can do the restoration.  The other fifty percent of the time is spent with on-the-ground projects.”

Running over 75 projects each season, WRV hosts 12-20 volunteer training sessions each spring, helping to train volunteers as crew leaders, those helping to lead the volunteer groups; tool managers who manage the tools and equipment; project leaders, those helping to run the projects who, when trained will run up to eighty to ninety percent of the projects; technical advisors, who are the ones who plan and design the actual projects, and cooks.
Because WRV relies so heavily on volunteer interaction and leadership, Roberts admits that no day is ever the same.

“There is no typical day, which is part of what I love about this job.  We all work crazy, crazy hours because we’re working a lot with volunteers.  Probably a third to half my weekends I’m doing something and a lot of evenings, which is really cool because it gives me flexibility to take off and go for a hike in the morning.”

Of course, being so passionate about the work that he does, it’s easy for Roberts to find things he enjoys about WRV.

“Working with WRV, most of us love the outdoors or appreciate them, and we get a benefit from the land, but the land doesn’t benefit from us using it.  It’s a one-way street.  This is one of the few opportunities where it’s beneficial for the land; it’s a symbiotic relationship.  I get to see growth in the environment and growth in people.  When those two things are put together, that’s an unbelievably powerful thing.”

Looking to the future, Roberts is really excited to further developing the Youth Program within WRV.  In the past three years, they’ve come from bare bones to engaging over 500 youth a year, doing 10-15 projects with them.  Wildlands Restoration Volunteers is also excited about becoming a bigger presence statewide, expanding their network and connections in Colorado.  For more info about getting involved with Wildlands Restoration Volunteers, visit their website.