Our volunteers do amazing work in NH, from making a difference for our natural resources, to supporting youth and families, to helping downtowns become more vibrant, they give freely of their time to make NH a better place to live. Each year we raise funds to support their work through UNH's (603) Challenge. This year's challenge will take place 12:00 a.m. ET on Friday, April 9 to 11:59 p.m. ET on Tuesday, April 13 and if you donate early, you'll have the chance to double your donation through matching funds, up to $200 per donor! Join us in supporting and celebrating our volunteer's amazing contributions to NH!
This year is extra special in that Extension will be able to unlock $20,000 in bonus funds from an anonymous donor and Branch Hill Farm if we're able to reach a goal of 300 donors by the end of the challenge. Help us earn these amazingly generous donations! Donations of any amount can help us reach our 300 donor goal. Thank you!
Extension Volunteer Programs
Coastal Research Volunteers
The Coastal Research Volunteer (CRV) program engages volunteers in meaningful citizen science and stewardship to enhance local coastal research. They provide important information to evaluate climate change and water quality health in the area. They’re on the front lines of pressing environmental issues important to the state—monitoring the phenology of rockweed and green crabs, collecting blue mussels, analyzing pollution and gathering beach erosion data.
Community and Economic Development
The Community and Economic Development team trains volunteers and leaders in New Hampshire communities to strengthen main streets, keep and grow businesses, expand local tourism and strengthen the connection between downtowns and natural assets like parks, trails and rivers. Their work with local residents, community leaders and business owners enriches the high quality of life in New Hampshire which is essential to the economy and civic pride.
Lakes Lay Monitoring
Through the Lakes Lay Monitoring program, UNH scientists, students and over 250 seasonal and year-round volunteers participate in collecting water quality measurements in over 40 lakes all across New Hampshire. This data helps inform the decision-making of towns and lake associations to mitigate problems, improve water quality and protect residents and visitors. Volunteers inform their neighbors and local public officials on their lake’s conditions and best stewardship practices, leading to improvements like a reduction in stormwater runoff and fertilizer applications.
UNH Marine Docent Program
UNH Marine Docent Program mission is to "provide a lens through which the marine and associated environments can be viewed, understood, and appreciated by people of all ages." Docents present a variety of educational programs that provide a link between the University's research community and the public. Docents teach marine science to students in schools, on boats, and at camps, adults in community groups and organizations, and at public events. Marine docent boat builders help families build small sailboats over a 3 day weekend. Docents also lead public tours on the UNH Research Vessel Gulf Challenger, into Great Bay and out to Appledore Island.
Natural Resources Stewards & NH Big Trees
Natural Resources Stewards are people of all ages and walks of life who love New Hampshire’s outdoors. They volunteer to help our trees and parks, forests and fields, plants and pollinators. The 2019 class welcomed 24 new members. Nearly 13,000 volunteer hours were dedicated by them in combination with past graduates of the program and Big Tree volunteers. In 1950, the NH Big Tree Program began in an effort to find, record and recognize magnificent individual trees. Volunteers search the state for the largest examples of tree species; the list of recorded trees now includes over a thousand county, state and national champions.
Nature Groupie makes it easy for more people to volunteer for nature. We all love getting outside, hiking on trails and enjoying out outdoor places, but those places need our help too; trees need to be planted, wildlife needs to be monitored and trash needs to be cleared. Nature Groupie connects volunteers to these projects, and since 2013 more than 7,000 people have helped restore salt marsh, counted amphibians, pulled invasive plants, built trails and much more.
NH Coverts Project
The NH Coverts Project trains volunteers from a broad array of backgrounds and professions who are passionate about wildlife conservation and forest stewardship. After the training, volunteers return to their communities as stewards of NH’s wildlife and forest resources where they take on projects that fit their skills and interests such as leading field walks, coordinating volunteer workdays, serving on town boards or managing their own property for wildlife habitat.
NH Master Gardeners
The NH Master Gardener Program is part of a national effort to train people who are passionate about gardening so that they can become volunteers who share science-based horticultural knowledge with the public. UNH Master Gardeners can apply for Special Projects Grants to fund gardens that make a difference in their communities. A few recent examples include food pantry gardens, school gardens and pollinator gardens. Gifts will help purchase lumber for raised beds, compost to enrich soil, signage to engage the public and tools for volunteers and students to “dig in” to create successful gardens.
Nutrition Connections is a nutrition education program that provides low-income families the knowledge and skills they need for better health, at no cost to them. With the support of generous donors, Nutrition Connections can offer healthy meals to program participants and provide ingredients for them to replicate recipes at home. Nutrition Connections classes have engaged 4,232 youth and 698 adults; their food assistance project at food pantries has reached 2,215 people; and 13,808 kids and parents were reached through a school community project.
Speaking for Wildlife
Speaking for Wildlife trains volunteers in delivering presentations and field walks focused on wildlife and natural resources. Once trained, volunteers educate community groups across the state about New Hampshire's diverse wildlife species and habitats. Since the development of the program in 2010, Speaking for Wildlife volunteers have delivered over 350 presentations and 150 field walks, reaching over 9,000 people throughout NH.
The STEM Docents training program was created in August 2016 to engage and inspire youth in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Focusing on underserved populations in Manchester and Nashua, the program trains and coordinates teams of volunteers—known as STEM Docents—and provides direct education for K-12 educators. STEM Docents teach hands-on, practice-based curricula that align with national recommendations to actively engage young learners. Donations will help provide scholarships to cover program fees.
4‑H is America’s largest youth development organization—empowering nearly six million young people with the skills to lead for a lifetime. The NH 4-H program helps youth acquire knowledge, develop life skills and form attitudes to become self-directing, productive and contributing members of society. Youth are encouraged to take on leadership roles in supportive environments with guidance from adult mentors in the areas of STEM, healthy living, agriculture and citizenship. Professional 4-H youth development educators are located in each of New Hampshire’s 10 counties.