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Volunteer with us!

We at rare are grateful for the support and hard work of our volunteers. We are always looking for individuals and groups who will help us build climate resilience, improve food security, and expand our understanding of the environment. Whether you are looking to build your resume, complete your high school community service hours, or just coming out for a day of hands-on work, rare is happy to help foster your personal development while you help steward and protect the local environment. On this page, you will learn of the many ways you can volunteer at rare.

Volunteers Bob and Janice harvest organic produce at Springbank Garden in August 2021. Photo by I.Dent.

Springbank Garden – Building Local Food Security through Regenerative Agriculture

Springbank Farm, including its Food Bank Garden, is located at 681 Blair Road, Cambridge. It is a collective gardening space where people gather to grow vegetables and fruit for the recipients of food bank programs in Cambridge and throughout Waterloo Region. Your helping hands will produce good crops while you learn about organic gardening.

There are many benefits to volunteering at Springbank Farm’s Food Bank Garden:

  • You will help grow healthy organic produce for your local food bank.
  • You will gain a sense of hands-on accomplishment while relieving stress and improving your mood.
  • You will build confidence in yourself and gain new skills, learning from other gardeners.
  • You will increase your understanding of sustainable food systems and healthy eating.
  • You will improve your health through physical activity in the out-of-doors.

Tasks may include weeding, watering, planting, raking, shovelling compost and mulch, and harvesting.

You will need: transportation to and from the garden, closed-toe shoes, sunscreen/sun hat, and drinking water.

We will supply: guidance, tools.

At present, we are calling on individuals to volunteer at Springbank Garden for:

Microplastics to be removed from the gardens.
  • Twice-weekly volunteer sessions for individuals and/or families starting Wednesday, May 22, 2024 and running Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to noon, and Sundays from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. No pre-registration is required. Garden volunteer days are cancelled in the event of rain. (NOTE: Sunday sessions are for 18 years old and up)

To protect the wildlife at the gardens and to ensure visitor safety, we must limit vehicle traffic at the gardens. No vehicles are allowed beyond the parking lot at 681 Blair Road unless they have a valid accessible parking permit and have registered their vehicle with rare. For more information about volunteer opportunities at the garden, please contact Taryn Jarvis at taryn [dot] jarvis [at] raresites.org.

Springbank Garden – Corporate Group Volunteer Opportunities

The rare team is happy to provide you and your staff with meaningful tasks that present opportunities for team building and personal development while helping grow food for those in need within our community. Our gardens are located on the rare Charitable Research Reserve’s Springbank Farm, 681 Blair Rd, Cambridge, Ontario. Springbank Farm is a collective gardening space where people gather together to grow organic vegetables, herbs and fruit for the recipients of the Cambridge Food Bank programs.  Your helping hands are needed to produce good crops while you get a chance to learn about organic gardening!

There are many benefits to spending a corporate volunteer day at the Springbank Food Bank Garden:

  • You will help grow healthy food for those in the most need of good nutrition in our community.
  • Your team will gain a sense of hands-on accomplishment, relieve stress and improve their mood.
  • Your team will learn from other gardeners with many levels of experience, gaining tips and tricks, creating an unstructured outdoor education environment.
  • Your team will gain an increased awareness and understanding of local and sustainable food systems and healthy eating.
  • You will enjoy a great team-building experience full of healthy physical activity in the out-of-doors.

Tasks may include: weeding, watering, planting, harvesting, raking and shoveling compost and mulch in our organic Springbank Food Bank gardens.

For more information or to schedule a Corporate Volunteer Day for your organization, please contact Christine Thompson at christine [dot] thompson [at] raresites.org

rare Conservation and Land Management – Spark the Land Steward in You!

Our land management team at rare is looking for help to protect and manage the natural ecosystems at rare’s seven sites across Waterloo Region and Wellington County. We provide meaningful opportunities for personal development and corporate team-building that helps you connect with nature while removing invasive species, rehabilitating natural lands, maintaining trails, and monitoring. Tasks include:

  • Invasive Plant Management – removing invasive plants that out-compete native vegetation
  • Trail Maintenance and Rehabilitation – keeping trails clean and clear of brush
  • Native Species Planting – planting native trees, shrubs and perennials to improve and rehabilitate our natural habitats
  • Land Stewardship – working with staff to monitor, maintain and improve our trails at rare

Land Management volunteer days happen regularly during the spring, summer and fall, and we ask that individuals register to attend. These days are posted on our Events Calendar, with further information about date, time, location, what to bring, and what to wear. For further information about stewardship opportunities, please contact Alissa Fraser at alissa [dot] fraser [at] raresites.org or by phone at 519-650-9336 x114

rare Research – Expand our Understanding of the Environment

Our Conservation Scientist, Aleksandra Dolezal, at rare works to expand our understanding of the environment by supporting research into environmental science, biology and more. Each year, rare hosts a number of research monitoring projects and community science activities that have benefitted from the help of dedicated volunteers.

We are looking for a team of dedicated volunteers for rare’s upcoming BioBlitz on Sunday, July 14 to lead hikes and help participants identify species of plants, animals, and fungi living in Ancient Woods. You can find more details and apply here.

We are always on the lookout for:

  • Community Scientists – plan and participate in events where staff and volunteers monitor species and habitats on the reserve. We host various Bioblitz events each year to help monitor species at rare sites. We are always on the lookout for expert birders to help us with our monitoring efforts for activities such as: the Eramosa Corridor Bird Migration program, Bluebird nest box monitors, Bank swallow monitors, and more. These opportunities are listed in our Events Calendar. We also welcome participation in our year-round inaturalist project: Nature Sightings @ rare (https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/nature-sightings-rare-charitable-research-reserve)
  • Species Monitors – go into the field to identify, monitor, and record species like butterflies and salamanders, benthic invertebrates or monitor forest health. These monitoring programs run at various times throughout the year so if one interests you don’t hesitate to contact our Conservation Scientist on how to get involved. No previous experience is needed as all training will be provided by our Conservation Scientist.
  • Research Assistants – gain valuable knowledge and experience while assisting researchers in their projects. Conduct literature reviews of the latest research and ideas on current topics in science and the arts. Are you interested in tackling on some scientific communication needs with our research department? Well, we have plenty of opportunities, and welcome new creative ideas to the table!

In addition to dates listed on our Events Calendar opportunities present themselves on a project-by-project basis. For more information about these opportunities, contact our Conservation Research Department at aleksandra.dolezal [at] raresites.org or by phone at 519-650-9336 x111

ECO Campers at rare

rare Education – Spark a Wonder in Nature in the Next Generation of Conservationists.

The Education Team at rare runs a number of programs, including PD Day, March Break and Summer ECO Camps, as well as hosting field trips from local schools. Help is always appreciated in sparking a sense of wonder in nature in our next generation of conservationists:

  • Education Programs — Are you a retired educator or an aspiring teacher? Why not help deliver outdoor educational programming that is aligned with your school’s curriculum from Grades K-12?
  • Summer, March Break or PD Day ECO Camps — Have fun in the great outdoors at rare ECO Camp! Help lead outdoor activities and see children’s eyes light up with wonder as they explore nature!

For more information about volunteer opportunities, contact Istafa Sufi at istafa [dot] sufi [at] raresites.org or 519-650-9336 x116 or Michelle MacMillan at michelle [dot] macmillan [at] raresites.org or 519-650-9336 x112

rare Events, Administration and Fundraising – Help Us Engage the Community

At rare, there are always things that need to be done, and volunteers are welcome to assist with tasks that are conducted indoors as well. Are you skilled or looking to develop skills in fundraising, communications and administration? Volunteer activities here help build community service and add experience on a resume.

We are always looking for help with:

  • Marketing and Promotions – build awareness of rare through the local community and online.
  • Special Events – help organize and set-up events at rare, such as the Trail Party, the Spring Plant Sale and EcoMarket, or one-off special events taking place at rare.
  • Communications – Help with mailings, event prep, outreach.
  • Creative Arts and Graphic Design – design flyers and other promotional materials to help rare make a splash!
  • Community Outreach/Campus Ambassadors – Want to introduce rare at your event or organization or on campus? Talk to us about how!

For more information about volunteer opportunities here, contact Sara Clark at sara.clark [at] raresites.org or 519-650-9336 x122 or James Bow at james [dot] bow [at] raresites.org or 519-650-9336 x123