New Mexico Volunteers for the Outdoors (NMVFO) was organized in May 1982 as part of the National Volunteer Project (NVP) of the Appalachian Mountain Club. It undertakes projects to preserve and improve outdoor recreational facilities in partnership with governmental agencies by recognizing the advantage of a vital American resource – the willingness and ability of volunteers to tackle and solve problems.

The Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC), one of the nation’s oldest outdoor recreation and conservation organization based in Boston, has a long record of volunteer stewardship of natural resources. It set up a three-year national project with a grant from the Richard King Mellon Foundation to share its experience with other groups across the country.

NMVFO was the first of six organizations formed as part of the project, set up with the help of AMC staff member Roger Moore. Roger provided liaison with AMC and direction for local members before turning the group over to the guidance of a local NMVFO board of directors in the fall of 1983. Karen Voight was the first full-time executive director. NMVFO was officially granted status by the State of New Mexico as a nonprofit organization in March of 1984. The transition from a funded to an all-volunteer organization was tenuous in the early years. Not all of the sister organizations that AMC set up survived this transition. Thirty years later and we are still going stong.

The NMVFO membership approved a change in the organization’s structure in November 1984 and the board of directors was given the responsibility of setting policy, overseeing all projects and financial activities, and appointing program coordinators to handle specific assignments. By-laws were updated in November 1991.

In 1984 an “Adopt-A-Trail Handbook”, a guide to volunteer trail maintenance in the southwest was written and edited by NMVFO, and published by the University of New Mexico. This handbook was completed under a contract with the New Mexico Natural Resources Department.