Volunteer FAQ


You don't need any previous experience to participate in an NMVFO project, but... what should you bring? what is provided? can I bring my kids? All these and other Frequently Asked Questions are answered below. Every project is a little bit different, however, so if a project interests you, contact the project leader for further information. If you have other questions, please contact us or click here for a directory of organizational contacts.

How long are projects?  

Day projects are one day of work - arrive in the morning between 8 - 9am and work until about 4 - 5pm. Volunteers usually bring their lunches to eat at the worksite, although snacks and lunches are provided on some projects. Most of these are in the Albuquerque/Santa Fe area.

Weekend projectsMost of our projects span a weekend, with volunteers arriving Friday evening or Saturday morning, working Saturday and half of Sunday, and camping out at or near the worksite. The VFO usually provides Saturday dinner and Sunday breakfast. Can't spend the whole weekend? That's ok, just let the project leader know.

Backpack projects are multi-day activities that can range in duration from three to ten days. Some backpacks are supported by pack animals carrying tools, cooking equipment, food, and perhaps some personal equipment. All meals are usually provided by the VFO on backpacks. We provide tools on all projects.

How do I know how difficult a project is?

Every project has a one to three Pulaski rating. The pulaski is the little tool icon you see in the project description.


 1 Pulaski. These projects are the least physically demanding. There is usually a short hike or walk on a fairly level trail to the worksite, and the work itself is not exhausting. Examples are lopping, painting, and building rock cairns for trail markers.


2 Pulaskis. Most of our projects fall into this rating. They may entail a short hike or up to a two- to three-mile hike to the worksite carrying tools and your daypack with lunch and water. Examples of work involved are cutting new tread, building or repairing drainage structures and/or retaining walls, removing earthen berms from the trail edge, or lopping.


3 PulaskisAll of the backpack projects are rated at 3 pulaskis because of the hiking distance to the worksite and the work which often entails heavy trail maintenance in the back country. Pack animals may be available to carry much of the heavy loads; what they carry varies from project to project, and the project leader will relay these details, established by the agency representative, to the volunteers.

What kind of training is available?

We will train you in trail maintenance/trail building. If possible, try to attend one of our workshops wherein we mix classroom lectures and discussions with hands-on trailwork; however, you’d be welcome on any of our projects even if you don’t. You’ll be assigned to work with an experienced volunteer who will teach you the skills you need that day. Again, tools are provided on every project, and the safe and proper use of these tools is reviewed at the start of each project.

Must I be a paid member to participate on the projects?

No.  Anyone with the desire to improve New Mexico’s public lands is invited.


When do I need to be there? 

Projects usually start around 8 or 8:30 AM on Saturday. Consult with your project leader for details. On weekend projects, some volunteers arrive Friday night and camp out, while others prefer to travel early Saturday morning.


Do I have to come for the entire weekend? 

No. You can come for whatever amount of time you can give. Some volunteers come for only one day (Saturday is best) for a weekend project. Work usually lasts until 4:00 or 4:30 on Saturday, and until about noon on Sunday. The project leader will want to know your plans for work, tool, and meal planning.


Are there any age limits to participate on a project?

Anyone under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian, otherwise there are no requirements.


Is carpooling available? 

Project leaders will try to arrange carpools. Ask them about getting a ride or offer if you are willing to give a ride.


What should I wear or bring on a project?

For all projects, required clothing includes long pants, long-sleeve shirt, work gloves, a hat, sunscreen, and sturdy boots or shoes, preferably that support the ankle, and rain gear in case the weather changes.


  • For day projectsbring at least two quarts or water for a full day, your lunch, and snacks. Some day projects may provide lunch and snacks, so check with the project leader. Depending on the locale, you may wish to bring insect repellent.


  • On weekend projectsbring the above as a minimum, plus what you desire for camping overnight, such as toilet articles, a change of clothes, and a sun shower if you desire (play it safe and bring it filled). Your camping equipment includes a tent, a sleeping bag (with extra blankets if desired), a sleeping mat, a flashlight and/or lantern, and eating implements (plate, cup, utensils). A folding chair and your beverage of choice are comfortable options. Water and toilet facilities will be available. Check with the project leader on precisely what meals will be provided and what you must bring.
  • Backpack projects require all the clothes you’ll need (underwear, long trousers and long-sleeved shirts), plus comfortable and sturdy boots, toilet articles, eating implements, rain gear, sunscreen, water bottles, gloves, flashlight, sleeping bag and mat, and tent and peripherals. A small pack is handy for carrying water, lunch, and raingear to a remote worksite. Water, food, and cooking/dishwashing gear are usually provided. Check with the project leader for details such as expected temperature ranges, weather conditions, and other variables that may influence your type of personal gear.


Can I bring my dog? 

No. Dogs or other pets frequently get in the way of performing volunteer activities. In addition, NMVFO cannot control or guarantee the behavior of pets with other domestic animals, wildlife, or humans.


What should I bring for an overnight project?

Every project is different and you should contact the project leader for specific details. However, a sleeping bag, tent, warm clothing, and water bottles are the minimum.


Are there any other activities other than trail work that I can be involved in?

Yes. There is lots of behind-the-scenes work. Skills and/or desire wanted in data entry, volunteer recruitment, tool maintenance, website management, cooking, marketing and promotion, photography, grant writing, outreach, and general office help. If you have time and talents to offer, just ask how you can be a part of the organization. Please go to Ways to Volunteer to find out more.


Is it all really hard physical labor? 

No. We have work for everyone, and will adjust your assignment to your ability . Many of our projects include light work or other activities.


Should I bring any tools?

No. The NMVFO or the public land agency provides all the tools that you will need.


I don’t have any camping equipment, can I still participate in an overnight project?

Yes. The NMVFO has a tent and a 0 degree sleeping bag that you can use.  Contact the project leader prior to the project to express your needs.


Can I bring my children?

Several of our projects include light work or activities suitable for children so consult  project descriptions and call the project leaders to see if there are activities kids would enjoy. Please note that some of our projects that involve difficult terrain, long hikes, high temperatures, etc. may not be suitable for kids.


Will food be provided?

Most multi-day projects have at least one cooked meal, usually Saturday evening, and depending upon the project leader and cook more meals may be provided. However volunteers should be prepared to bring their own lunch or special dietary needs.