Are you taking part in one of ONDA’s stewardship trips, or thinking about it? Here are some answers to frequently asked questions.
How much does it cost to volunteer?
While it is free to volunteer, ONDA collects a refundable $25 deposit for group stewardship trips and $10 deposit for independent stewards projects to ensure those who register actually participate on our projects. After each trip or project report is submitted volunteers will be given the option to have their deposit refunded, or to make it a tax-deductible donation to ONDA.
Please note that volunteers who have to cancel will be offered a full refund if the cancellation occurs more than 30 days before the trip.
How do I know if I’m accepted on a trip?
Once you submit your application, you will hear from the trip leader within two weeks. The trip leader will send you a brief email confirming your status, either registered or waitlisted. If you are waitlisted, the trip leader will contact you as soon as a space becomes available.
Why do some trips have waiting lists?
ONDA is fortunate to have strong interest in our volunteer trips. As a result trips fill up quickly. For some projects, participation is limited due to the land designation of the area where the trip takes place or due to the project design. Certain land designations such as wilderness and wilderness study area (WSA) limit group size to 12 people.
How will I receive information about trips I am registered for?
Your trip leader will be in touch with you six weeks and three weeks prior to your trip. At six weeks, your trip leader will ask you to confirm that you are still committed to attending the trip. At three weeks, your trip leader will send you a detailed email with all of the pertinent information you will need to participate on the trip.
Sometimes projects will change at the last minute. Your trip leader will keep you informed of any changes via email. Please let us know if you will be out of reach in the days leading up to the project, or if your contact information changes.
Do I need relevant experience to volunteer?
Experience is not required and each project begins with training to do the work. All that is required is a willingness to learn and a commitment to work at a pace that is sustainable for each volunteer. Each trip is designated a trip difficulty level, learn more these levels so you can choose the trip that is right for your interest and experience.
What am I expected to bring with me?
Each volunteer is responsible for bringing their own personal gear: tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, headlamp, ample clothing for hot and cold weather, rain gear, a backpack, personal products, hiking boots, a camp chair (recommended), coffee mug, water bottles, protective eyewear (sunglasses are OK), kitchen supplies and ample food for the duration of the trip. Project-specific gear reminders will be sent out in pre-trip emails.
What will ONDA provide?
ONDA will provide expert leadership and tools for the work, work gloves, sunscreen, some group camping equipment such as a shade tent, a privy, potable water, morning coffee and light snacks.
How do volunteers get to the project site?
Each volunteer is responsible for getting to and from the project site. ONDA will offer to connect groups of people who can self-organize carpooling. Some trips require high clearance and/or 4×4 capable vehicles to reach the project site. The project leader will communicate these details in the pre-trip email sent three weeks before each trip.
What safety measures are in place?
ONDA volunteer trips have inherent risks of conducting physical work in remote outdoor settings. Safety is our top priority and considered first in every trip decision we make. All ONDA trip leaders have current wilderness medicine training and carry a satellite communication device that allows for emergency communications. Pre-trip emails will communicate potential hazards on the project site, and each trip starts with a safety briefing to mitigate risks. If you’re looking to increase your personal safety while on an ONDA trip or your own personal trips to Oregon’s high desert, we recommend the following:
- A Wilderness First Aid course is a great way to be prepared to care for yourself or others on remote adventures in the backcountry
- Carrying a personal locator beacon (InReach device or Spot) is a very useful tool should emergencies arise in remote areas
- An external power bank is useful should your smart phone or device need some extra juice on your trip; especially for several-day Independent Stewardship projects
What will I have to carry to work each day?
Each volunteer should have a daypack filled with water (at least 3 liters), extra clothing layers, rain gear, sunscreen, work gloves, warm hat, sun hat, bug spray, and lunch/snacks for the day. In addition to personal gear, you’ll be asked to carry some tools and equipment required to complete the day’s project.
What are the age requirements?
While we do not have age limits on either end of the spectrum, we do ask that all minors be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
Can I bring my dog?
Dogs are not allowed on group stewardship trips, but you are welcome to bring your dog on independent projects.
Can I have a beer around the campfire?
After a long, hot day of trail work, a cold beer goes a long way. That’s OK with us. We just want everyone to understand that our projects are open to adults and minors alike. Only people 21 years of age and older are permitted to have or drink alcohol on projects. Anyone consuming alcoholic beverages is expected to drink responsibly and be respectful of their neighbors.
What is ONDA’s commitment to leading inclusive trips?
At ONDA, we believe that the best way to protect everyone’s right to a healthy environment is to ensure that people of all identities can play a role in caring for healthy resilient landscapes. ONDA is committed to building an inclusive desert conservation community, and, to do that, we’ll need your assistance.
Please know that we expect the conversation on our trips to be respectful of people’s differing backgrounds, orientations and political views. Please reach out to your trip leader if you have any questions about this or would like advice.
In order to safeguard the health of our employees and volunteers, their families, and the communities in which we live and work, ONDA requires full COVID-19 vaccination, including receipt of a COVID-19 booster shot, as a condition of participating in our group stewardship trips in 2022. This decision is based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state and local health authorities, as applicable. All ONDA staff are fully vaccinated and boosted.
Full Vaccination Including Booster Required
Effective January 1, 2022, all volunteers participating in group stewardship trips will be required to show proof of having received a full course of the COVID-19 vaccine including a booster shot. Volunteers will be asked to provide the date of their COVID-19 booster when registering for group trips and to show proof of vaccination upon arrival at the work site. Volunteers who are not able to show proof of vaccine will not be permitted to participate in the trip.
Due to the nature of our group trips and our responsibility to mitigate health and safety risks for employees and volunteers, ONDA will not make exceptions to this policy. ONDA will not accept COVID-19 test results in place of full vaccination.
Other Opportunities for Unvaccinated Individuals
Unvaccinated individuals may participate in ONDA’s stewardship work through any of our Independent Stewards volunteer projects where they will not be required to be in close proximity to ONDA staff or other volunteers. We will work with individuals who are unvaccinated or do not wish to share their vaccination status to match them with an Independent Stewards volunteer opportunity that fits their interests, skills and abilities.
Is a vaccination requirement for participants legal?
Yes, vaccine requirements for participants are legal, both under federal and state laws, so long as qualified individuals are provided reasonable accommodations for medical condition or disability, or sincerely-held religious beliefs that prohibit them receiving a vaccine. In the case of ONDA’s Stewardship Program, reasonable accommodations will be provided through independent volunteer activities that will not pose a direct health risk to ONDA employees, other volunteers, or the individual requesting the accommodation. ONDA is not legally required to provide an exemption/accommodation if doing so would pose a direct threat to the exempted individual, ONDA employees or other participants, or would create an undue hardship.
Will you accept a negative COVID-19 test instead of proof of vaccination for volunteers on group trips?
No. Group stewardship trips often span multiple days and bring together a group of people from multiple households and communities to complete work together in remote areas, making a negative COVID-19 test prior to the trip an inadequate substitute for vaccination. For example, if a participant tested negative the day before a four-day trip, but developed symptoms during the trip, they could expose all of the other participants on that trip.
You probably already know these things, but, just so we’re all on the same page, these activities are not permitted on ONDA trips:
- Possession or use of firearms except with prior written authorization from ONDA
- Consumption of alcoholic beverages in excess
- Possession or use of any illegal drugs
- Fighting, use of derogatory language, intimidating behavior, discrimination, sexual harassment, or violent or threatening behavior
- Violation of any state game and fish regulation
- Violation of any federal, state, or local law
- Disclosing others’ confidential information
Violation of any of the above prohibitions may constitute grounds for dismissal from the project.
Emergency Contact Procedures
Most ONDA projects are located in remote areas with no cell phone service. If an emergency arises, here is how we will communicate:
Every crew is outfitted with a satellite InReach device. This lets us contact ONDA staff, land management partners, and emergency response personnel via two-way texting. This tool is used only in the event of an emergency.
If you need to reach a trip participant, try contacting the people on the below list. It may take some time to reach a crew in the field. Please only reach out with life-event emergencies that cannot wait.
- Gena Goodman-Campbell, Program Director – 541-330-2638 ext. 306
- Barksdale Brown, General Manager – 541-330-2638 ext. 314
- Ryan Houston, Executive Director – 541-330-2638 ext. 316