Student stories

Working as a volunteer coordinator for Surrey's Natural Areas Partnership

Caroline Wiggins

Surrey's Natural Areas Partnership

Caroline Wiggins spent four months working as the volunteer coordinator for Surrey's Natural Areas Partnership. Read on to learn about her work term and role.

1) What is Surrey's Natural Areas Partnership?

Surrey's Natural Areas Partnership (SNAP) is a unique, non-profit community partnership that brings together local community groups with the goal of promoting stewardship within Surrey BC’s natural areas and parks. SNAP's partners include The Green Timbers Heritage Society, Sunnyside Acres Heritage Society, White Rock & Surrey Naturalists, and the City of Surrey's Parks Division. To fulfill their goals, SNAP employs a small group of post-secondary students each summer who work in three different teams: Environmental Outreach, Boulevard Trees Outreach, and Habitat Restoration. SNAP also relies on a network of dedicated volunteers from within the community who assist the teams. 

The goals of SNAP are to: 1) restore and enhance Surrey’s natural area parks; 2) provide environmental education to the community; 3) encourage the public to become stewards of natural areas; and 4) raise awareness and promote the care of boulevard trees. SNAP’s vision includes promoting community stewardship and active involvement in the restoration and conservation of Surrey’s urban forests and natural areas. SNAP hopes to connect people and communities with Surrey’s natural areas and promote awareness of the many benefits natural areas provide.

2) What was your role with the organization?

My role with SNAP was as the Summer 2013 Volunteer Coordinator. As the Volunteer Coordinator, I worked under the supervision of the SNAP Coordinator and a supervisor from the City of Surrey. I was in charge of a team of approximately 45 volunteers and providing support, field supervision and coordinating the logistics and scheduling throughout the summer.

3) What were your responsibilities?

My work consisted of: assisting with volunteer selection (recruitment, interviews and reference checks), organizing training for Eco Rangers and Habitat Restoration Assistants and managing all volunteer activities (e.g. supervision, scheduling, record keeping, volunteer safety, quality assessments and volunteer recognition). I also worked in the parks assisting the public regarding appropriate park use and impacts on the environment. Lastly, I maintained records and completed a final report which evaluated the effectiveness of the program and with recommendations for the 2014 volunteer program.

4) What competencies did you gain?

Throughout my work with SNAP as a Volunteer Coordinator, I developed multiple skills and competencies which provided me with the opportunity to improve: my personal management skills, communication skills, information management, project and task management, teamwork and professional behaviour. SNAP provides opportunities for both staff and volunteers to engage in nature while promoting the importance and benefit of maintaining our natural areas. I found a connection with SNAP through my passion for the environment. I think that people who find joy in nature and being in the outdoors, should in turn, share their love and experiences in nature by encouraging others to spend time outdoors. In the future, I hope to provide opportunities to individuals by opening them to new experiences within the outdoors.

More about Exercise science, physical and health education co-op