By Alan Clarke

E Pluribus Unum. Out of many, one. This traditional motto of the United States of America symbolizes how the fifty states of the union, working together towards common purpose, are far stronger than the fifty states working separately. It has also come to signify how the remarkably diverse peoples of this nation, of many national origins, ethnicities, races, religions and beliefs, can come together to accomplish great things.

E Pluribus Unum. This motto could just as well apply to Douglas Land Conservancy. There are many disparate parties involved in the crucial land conservation work performed by DLC—landowners, local governments, DLC staff and Board members, donors, other conservation organizations and volunteers. Without the commitment and contributions of all these constituents, DLC would be a far less effective organization.

April is Global Volunteer Month. The last week of April is National Volunteer Week. Douglas Land Conservancy would like to take this opportunity to especially recognize our volunteers for the important work they do in helping to make DLC stronger and more effective in accomplishing its critical mission. Whether it be back-office work, monitoring bluebird trails, leading hikes, supporting educational events, planning fundraising activities, serving on committees, monitoring conserved properties or in any other capacity, the work our volunteers perform is so important.

DLC is a small nonprofit organization operating on a tight budget, only recently increasing our paid staff to four talented individuals (along with occasional part-time help). There is a lot of work to be done, from monitoring our conserved properties, to working with landowners to establish conservation easements and preserve new properties, to finding ways to bring in funds to meet our budgetary needs while building our financial strength to ensure that DLC will be able to fulfill its mission in perpetuity, as well as all the other work required to keep the organization running smoothly. There are always more good ideas and value-added tasks than can possibly be accomplished during the work week. Truth be told, if we had a couple more full-time staff members, they’d have plenty of work to do.

As it is, everything we do must undergo a cost and time versus benefit analysis. Are there funds in the budget for a new undertaking? Can a staff member devote sufficient time to the task without shortchanging other important work? Does it help achieve a goal in DLC’s Strategic Plan? Does it further DLC’s mission? Everything gets prioritized, and many great ideas must be tabled until funds and/or staff time become available.

That is where our amazing volunteers come in. Whether by devoting time, applying specialized knowledge or offering needed expertise, what our volunteers bring to the table allows DLC to commit to new activities, frees up staff time to address tasks that have been on hold or reduces costs to the organization so that funds can be spent on other important endeavors.

Last year, volunteers logged 3419 hours supporting important work for DLC. I can assure you that the number of hours volunteers devoted to helping DLC was actually far more than that, as many hours go unreported. That is equivalent to almost two full-time staff members! How incredible is that?

Through the many years of volunteer support for Douglas Land Conservancy, something special has arisen. DLC has built a strong and vibrant community along the Front Range. At first it may start with a wave of recognition of a familiar face and a brief stop to chat at the supermarket or library, as volunteers who have worked together recognize each other. Or conservation supporters who have attended a DLC event or activity approach a volunteer to talk about the organization or their love of beautiful Colorado. Differences in political affiliation, religious beliefs or personal outlooks are put aside and become irrelevant, as an appreciation of the outdoors and the common purpose of DLC’s mission come to be what is important. Many of these people grow to be close friends. Sometimes the spouse, partner or child of a long-time volunteer begins to volunteer as well, and it becomes a multigeneration, family affair.

Indeed, Douglas Land Conservancy’s many volunteers have become part of our extended family. And like a loving family, the volunteers, staff, DLC Board and other DLC supporters have grown to care for each other as much as for the mission of DLC. We are there for each other, to celebrate the good times and offer strength, understanding and sympathy during difficult times.

Douglas Land Conservancy’s volunteer program, along with all the good things accomplished by our volunteers, has been recognized widely as a program to be emulated. Truly, our volunteers, working together with staff and Board members, create synergy within DLC, and a stronger, more vibrant and more successful organization than could ever exist without their involvement. Surely this embodies the most fundamental concept implied by the motto E Pluribus Unum.

If you might be interested in volunteering to help Douglas Land Conservancy accomplish its essential mission, check out the volunteer page on DLC’s website at


Photo: Rich Jakubiak