We Couldn’t Do It Without You: The Incredible Impact of Bird Alliance of Oregon Volunteers

By Vicky Medley, Volunteer Manager

Bird Alliance of Oregon has a long and proud history of volunteer leadership and involvement. Our incredible volunteer community promotes and advances the work of Bird Alliance of Oregon to inspire all people to love and protect nature; we could not achieve our mission without our volunteers!  

As part of volunteer appreciation week, we are sharing the tremendous impact our volunteers have had over the past year. In 2019, 605 volunteers contributed their time, energy, and expertise, totaling an incredible 48,966 hours of service. We also welcomed 111 new volunteers into our volunteer community! 

From feeding baby birds to answering phones to giving sanctuary tours, volunteers play a critical role in every aspect of our work. Here are just a few highlights that show just how important volunteers are to the work we do here at Bird Alliance of Oregon:

Eight volunteers smile for the camera in front of a large tree at the Bird Alliance of Oregon Wildlife Sanctuary.


Our reception volunteers are often the first people the public meet as they greet visitors, answer phones, assist with administrative tasks, and answer questions and requests. They help us keep our Administrative budget modest, and hold a tremendous amount of knowledge about Bird Alliance of Oregon! A total of 25 volunteers gave over 2,000 hours as receptionists.  

Backyard Habitat Certification Program

Last year, the Backyard Habitat Certification Program completed its expansion, now serving residents in all four counties in the Portland Metro Region. 5,629 properties are enrolled for a total of 1,375 acres of habitat. That expansion could not have happened without the over 860 hours of volunteer time!

The Nature Store

Our Nature Store volunteers double the amount of staffing at the store, allowing Bird Alliance of Oregon to optimize essential revenue. Nature Store volunteers greet visitors with a smile and help them find what they need. They also connect people to Bird Alliance of Oregon and make it a memorable experience for those who walk through our doors. In 2019, 41 volunteers together served more than 2,500 in our Nature Store.  

Wildlife Care Center

Our Care Center cared for a record 4,011 animals in 2019. Volunteers received and responded to 13,000+ phone calls, answering questions and helping the public peacefully resolve  human/animal conflicts! 

In total, our Care Center volunteers contributed 21,673 hours! The majority of those hours were in permanent weekly shifts, from volunteers who serve as Care Assistants or Solutions Counselors. The Care Center simply could not exist without the volunteers’ contributions, and we are grateful for their support.  

Wildlife Care Center volunteer renests a fledgling Green Heron.

Community Science

From Brown Pelicans to endangered Snowy Plovers to the Vaux’s swifts, our volunteer Community Scientists worked down the entire coast, in the Portland Metro area, and in Harney County to gather data to help protect birds. Together, our Community Scientist volunteers gave over 3,400 hours of their time. Their efforts help influence policy about land use and species protections.  

Ambassador Animals

Our Ambassador Animal volunteers help care for and train the four birds and Western Painted Turtle who call Bird Alliance of Oregon home. The Ambassador Animal program (formerly called the Education Animal Program) had a building year in 2019. There were staff changes, and for a couple of months our volunteers took a major leadership role with the animal husbandry and care with supervision from our Wildlife Care Center. Our 17 Ambassador Animal volunteers gave a total of 2,890 hours and held 28 programs!


Sanctuary volunteers provide essential care to the land we steward. They remove invasive plants, maintain trails, provide maintenance and repairs, and help oversee the upkeep of our tools and buildings. They also help us become more “green” by improving our sustainability practices.  

Our Wednesday Work crew grew in numbers and volunteer leadership this year. A crew of 4-15 volunteers meet every Wednesday to tackle projects and improvements. In 2019 our Wednesday Work Crew gave over 500 hours.

We hosted several large work parties, which engaged over 100 volunteers from the community. We also benefited greatly from partnerships with Trail Keepers of Oregon and Friends of Trees.  

Overall, 1,836 volunteer hours were given in our NW Portland  Sanctuaries.

Just a few of the members of the Wednesday Sanctuaries Work Crew.


Hundreds of Bird Alliance of Oregon volunteer activists attended rallies and hearings to help advocate for conservation campaigns. Thousands submitted testimony or called decision makers to advocate for greater protections for wildlife and the habitat that they rely on. In addition, Activist volunteers:

  • Helped educate the public to pass the Metro Nature for All Regional Greenspace Ballot Measure to secure $450 million for greenspace protection.
  • Helped to pass a ballot measure to permanently protect Bull Run Watershed.
  • Advocated and helped pass protections on large trees in the City of Portland 
  • Halted Raven killing by state agencies in Eastern Oregon.

Swift Watch

Each night in September a team of 4-6 volunteers engaged with hundreds of attendees at Swift Watch, Portland’s largest bird watching party. Volunteers educated the public about the Vaux’s swifts and the importance of preserving natural habitat. Together 36 volunteers together gave more than 220 hours at Swift Watch. 

Membership and Development

Membership and Development volunteers amplify our efforts to raise vital funds and support our members.

  • Six weekly volunteers alleviate some of the heavy day-to-day workload of our staff, allowing more time to be allocated to project planning and fundraising.
  • Nine volunteers are part of our Archives committee, who are organizing our artwork, assets, and historical documents.
  • Hundreds of volunteers participate in Birdathon each year! In 2019, 4,345 hours Birdathoners raised $165,000! 
  • A powerhouse of 22 volunteers helped plan our annual Wild Arts Festival, and 210 event volunteers gave 1,290 volunteer hours. Together we raised $199,000 to support Bird Alliance of Oregon’s work.
Volunteers at the Wild Arts Festival silent auction.

Eastern Oregon

Eastern Oregon is home to some of the most spectacular landscapes and important bird habitat in Oregon. Bird Alliance of Oregon has been working in Eastern Oregon for more than a century to protect places such as Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and Steens Mountain and to recover imperiled species such as the Greater Sage-Grouse.

In 2019, our Eastern Oregon Field Coordinator Teresa Wicks led several volunteer efforts. From local weed pulls to our first Stewardship weekend, to the Harney Bird Festival, Bird Alliance of Oregon volunteers contributed 300 volunteer hours to support our conservation work in Malheur. 


Outings Leaders led more 233 outings, reaching over 3,400 participants throughout the Metro area! In addition, 20 Sanctuary Tour volunteers lead 35 sanctuary tours, sharing our beloved forest with more than 1200 students. That is an increase of 400 students from the prior year.

Special Events and Community Outreach

Special events and Community Outreach volunteers engage thousands of members of the public in our mission to love and protect nature. From Nature Nights to the Native Plant Sale to Night Flight to the Ridgefield Bird Festival,  volunteers donated over 800 hours of their time.  

Board Members

Our Board of Directors are all volunteers too! Together our Board Members contributed over 1,100 hours, and most members contributed in other ways as well. Our board provides oversight and direction to our staff leadership, and guidance on the budget, governance, key decisions, and funding.

Our Volunteer Council is a Board Committee. They oversee the scope and the direction of the volunteer program at Bird Alliance of Oregon, and provide leadership to the Volunteer Manager. Last year’s 10 Council members spent 260 hours in council meetings and supporting the quarterly Volunteer Program Introductions!

Former board member Kimm Fox-Middleton and current board member Mary Rose Navarro.

Our Volunteer Community

In 2019 we enjoyed 10 Ovenbird walks to build our volunteer community and our volunteer birding skills.  We hosted volunteer potlucks and gatherings in the Nature Store/Development, the Wildlife Care Center, with the Ambassador Animal team, and the Receptionists.  We look forward to celebrating another year with our volunteer community at Bird Alliance of Oregon!