Get Involved, Volunteer

A recent article in Volunteer Magazine [April 2002] stated: “Everyone seems to be in favor of increasing levels of volunteering at the moment.”

Increased volunteer enthusiasm is directly linked to Sept. 11. Also, President Bush, politicians, religious leaders, community activists, and even the media have discussed or reported on the need to become more involved. The purpose of creating a more “neighborly society” is something on the minds of many Americans and the world. Public service announcements are filled with reasons and benefits for getting involved. Organizations are competing for volunteers who want to make a difference.

The Environmental Industry Associations (EIA), Washington, D.C., is looking for volunteers. Involvement might include participation in a short-term project or a leadership position on a standing committee. One easy way to get involved is to report your experiences in the industry. Report on what you know. The EIA produces several publications each month. Propose a story idea or write an article on the things that make this industry special. National publications, such as Waste Age, also are interested in contributions from those in the industry.

Each year, the EIA produces several regional and national conferences. Become involved and volunteer to present an educational seminar or workshop. Participate as a moderator on a panel discussion. Analyze your skills. Think about what area of expertise or interest you could contribute to your colleagues. Translate your experience and help educate others in the field. At this year's WasteExpo, which was held in Las Vegas, more than 90 different professionals took time out of their schedules to get involved. Each professional understands the importance of contributing to the growth of the industry.

Additionally, consider volunteering with a local National Solid Wastes Management Association (NSWMA) chapter. Both NSWMA and the Waste Equipment Technology Association (WASTEC) have national leadership positions available. Interact with others who share your interests.

Whether you volunteer with EIA or with another organization, it's important to understand the benefits and need for volunteering. Some may want to feel needed, others want to get to know more about the community or maybe to help someone who needs assistance. Volunteering can create new skills or enhance the skills you already have. It also allows you to donate your professional skills and demonstrate a commitment to a cause or belief. There are several steps that can assist in this decision:

  • Research the various organizations. Look for the right project. Figure out what works for you.

  • Find out if the time demands fit your schedule. Make sure the time you can commit fits the demands of the organization.

  • Discover what you want from your volunteer experience. Think about what you have to contribute to the organization. Examine your beliefs and values, your talents and skills, and what goals you want to achieve from your participation. It is easier to assist with a project that shares similar goals.

  • Volunteering may require a few hours or a long-term commitment. For example, many schools and community organizations across the country are looking for positive role models to contribute to a child's education. Activities range from tutoring a child in basic skill development to discussing your occupation or lending your experience to a special project. These commitments may require one hour or a few hours per week.

    Volunteering in your local community or within the waste community increases our “neighborly society.” The quality of your efforts is more important than the quantity.

    For information on volunteering for any EIA, NSWMA or WASTEC program, please visit or call toll-free (800) 424-2869.

    Stephen Miner is the Environmental Industry Associations' education manager. E-mail the author at: