Man holding snapping turtle in pond.
New Generations NC Studying turtles at Nags Head Woods Preserve. © Andrew Kornylak

Stories in North Carolina

Reaching New Generations


Hiring a Community Volunteer Coordinator

Debbie Crane, Director of Communications, has met some wonderful millennials through The Nature Conservancy. Millennials are those born in the early 1980s through the early 2000s. "We have excellent staff and interns who fall in that range," she says. "But we don't have many millennial members." In fact, only 3% of Conservancy members are millennials, and we see that as a big problem.

Millennials are now the country's largest living generation. By 2020, they will make up half of America's workforce. Now is the time to engage them in our work, doing so on their terms. That's why we have included a volunteer coordinator in the Our World campaign. 

LEAF Interns sitting on a grassy hill.
Youth engagement LEAF interns finishing a day of tree monitoring. © Karine Aigner

Volunteering is ingrained in this generation. They grew up in a time when volunteer hours were a requirement of high school graduation, many continued to do so through college and are still volunteering as they enter the work force. In fact, that connection to cause also translates into how millennials choose employment. In its 2014 report, Case reported that 50% of millennials accepted a job based on that company's involvement with causes. In 2015, Case reported that 70% of millennials reported they volunteered the previous year.

We have done as much as we can to engage volunteers without a dedicated volunteer coordinator actively reaching out to this younger generation offering opportunities to get to know the Conservancy. Our volunteer work is currently done on an ad hoc basis by a volunteer staff member and largely confined to a few of our preserves. It usually occurs during standard work hours, which isn't a viable alternative for most students and young, working adults. And it is passive—with people contacting the Conservancy for volunteer opportunities rather than the Conservancy reaching out to potential volunteers.

If we are to remain relevant in the coming decades, then we need to be working now to attract millennials to the Conservancy fold. That's why it is crucial that we bring someone on staff who can bridge this gap—making vital connections between young people and The Nature Conservancy.