Top 10 Tips to Rally NPLD Volunteers
August 27, 2019
Lisa Beach

Need some inspiration to generate some buzz before and during your upcoming National Public Lands Day (NPLD) event? NEEF reached out to a few experienced NPLD event organizers and asked them to share their best tips.

Praveena Ramaswami from Toyota
  1. Collaborate.
    Praveena Ramaswami, community relations and corporate communications with National NPLD Sponsor Toyota, said, “We collaborate with our environmental BPG Terra (Toyota diversity business partnering group) and communicate internally to build momentum.” Linda Hartsfield, volunteer coordinator with Great Lake Allatoona Cleanup (GLAC) in Georgia, gets posters created in-kind by a local university and printed in-kind by an engineering firm.
  2. Communicate with other groups.
    Carrie Richardson, park manager with H.V. Eastman Lake/ Buchanan Dam in California, contacts local recruitment stations, school groups, chambers of commerce, and religious communities.
  3. Keep your messaging simple.
    People only have a few seconds to take in information, Ramaswami points out. Give critical information and include a link and an email or phone number where people can get details.
  4. Experiment with different promotions.
    Emails and in-office monitor signage work best for Ramaswami, while Richardson favors flyers and phone calls. Hartsfield mixes it up with emails, posters, social media, and even save-the-date cards handed out to Fourth of July parade onlookers.
  5. Match the project with the person.
    Richardson finds success in allowing volunteers to choose their own project. “We list the projects, locations, descriptions, skills needed, and tools required,” Richardson said. “This helps volunteers understand what they’re signing up for.”
  6. Dig deep into what motivates volunteers.
    Ramaswami finds that volunteers like to do something with their family on weekends that demonstrates the importance of giving back to their community. Hartsfield said, “One volunteer came out because his father had brought him to the cleanup when he was a child. Now, he’s bringing his grandchild to teach him the importance of keeping the lake clean.”
  7. Offer an incentive.
    Richardson offers volunteers camping the night before, free day-use of the park that day, and NPLD Fee-Free Coupons for one-day free admission, good for up to one year. Volunteers can redeem these coupons at national parks and forests and sites managed by Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
  8. Know what types of activities keeps volunteers engaged at your event.
    Ramaswami finds that short bursts of activities hold volunteer interest, along with an understanding of how their work impacts the area. Richardson said volunteers like to do something tangible, like painting or planting, to see a completed job.
  9. Host an after-event celebration!
    Richardson suggests throwing a potluck meal and playing music. Hartsfield invites local environmental groups to display interactive, educational activities, with most groups offering takeaways and great environmental lessons.
  10. Show appreciation.
    “Always thank your volunteers for helping,” said Richardson, “and let them know how meaningful their work is.”

    Linda Hartsfield


  • Praveena J. Ramaswami
    TOYOTA | TMNA Research & Development HQ | Community Relations and Corporate Communications
  • Linda Hartsfield
    Lake Allatoona Association (LAA) Board Member | Great Lake Allatoona Cleanup (GLAC) Volunteer Coordinator
  • Carrie A. Richardson
    Park Manager, H.V. Eastman Lake/Buchanan Dam | Merced County Stream Group