Summer Internship Series: Rocky Mountain High Volunteering

Isaac Bertman ‘19
Marketing Intern, Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado, Denver, Colorado

Summer internship series: rocky mountain high volunteering - voc-logo-small-e1506627797395.png image #0My name is Isaac Bertman, I’m in the Philosophy, Politics and Economics program at Denison and over the summer I had the privilege of working with Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado (VOC) as a marketing intern. VOC is a Denver-based nonprofit that is dedicated to motivating and enabling Colorado’s citizens to take care of their natural areas. Throughout the project season, which includes all summer and part of autumn, VOC organizes a variety of trail building and ecological restoration volunteer projects all across the state. As the population of Colorado is growing at a breakneck rate, this sort of volunteer stewardship is crucial to prevent the degradation of Colorado’s outdoor spaces. 

As a VOC intern, I had a variety of different tasks. I worked with the marketing and outreach departments to recruit volunteers for projects, both on the phone and via email. I also worked as a fundraiser by asking for donations from local businesses and organizations. One of my favorite parts of the job was when I was actually able to go out on projects and help build or maintain the trails we were working on. Early in the summer, I was trained in proper trail building techniques, so sometimes I was even given my own crew of volunteers to lead.

The best part of this position, and what I think sets it apart from other internships, was that it included a capstone project. This project is chosen by the intern early in the summer and steadily worked on through the ten-week period. The purpose of the capstone is not only to provide the intern with a project that they can have almost complete creative independence over, it is also meant to leave VOC with something useful at the end of the summer. My capstone project involved research on various types of nonprofit coalitions, as VOC is preparing to become an active member of a nonprofit stewardship coalition. At the end of the internship, I gave a presentation and handed in my research paper, which VOC will likely use to help guide their strategy going forward.

This was my first time working for a nonprofit organization and I enjoyed it for a few reasons. Firstly the staff was very committed to the objectives of the organization, which made the office environment very fun and friendly. Every veteran of VOC, especially my direct supervisor Jamie Burke, was very helpful and would patiently answer my many intern questions. Also, the nonprofit environment meant that the lines between job titles were a little blurred, and oftentimes people would help each other where they were needed. This was especially fun when three or four staff members made it out of the office to work on one of the projects together.

I’d like to thank my supervisor Jamie Burke who was enormously helpful in getting me set up and oriented at the office. Ann Baker Easley, Executive Director, and Dean Winstanley, Director of Statewide Stewardship were my two main contacts for my capstone project and I could not have made any progress on it without their help. In fact, I would like to thank and acknowledge everyone in the VOC office, as they all assisted me at some point or another. Without them, this summer would not have been the excellent learning experience that it was.