Volunteer with msi


Mountain Studies Institute (MSI) is driven to lead state-of-the-art science and education because the San Juan Mountains are our communities’ greatest asset. We believe that through community driven research, education, and practice, we can drive a brighter, more sustainable future for our beloved San Juans. MSI is able to amplify our impact with the help of motivated volunteers such as yourself!

here's how you can get involved

Email jeremy@mountainstudies.org to sign up to hear about upcoming volunteer trainings and opportunities.

I. Citizen Science

  • Invasive Weed Mapping: Weeds follow disturbance, such as wildfire. With cows grazing and humans, horses, and dogs recreating in the recently burned Hermosa Creek drainage, an influx of invasive weeds is expected. Help MSI and the Forest Service map invasive plants in the 416 burn area by submitting photo observations of weeds.
  • PikaNet: Because of where they live and their behavior, pika are an excellent species to study as an indicator of climate change. Join in this nation-wide effort to gather baseline data on the current distribution of pika and pika habitat.
  • Bighorn Sheep Monitoring: Rocky mountain bighorn sheep were at one time a primary ungulate in Colorado, like deer. Despite ample prime habitat (such as the Weminuche Wilderness), these majestic animals are dwindling in population. Disease from domestic sheep is a top concern, and this study will help us understand, when, where, and with what frequency bighorn sheep and domestic sheep are interacting. Our data has the potential to inform important land management decisions to protect our native bighorn sheep.
  • River Watch: Help MSI understand the state of our water quality and educate our communities about watershed health and potential threats to our rivers and streams. Volunteers will monitor water quality in the Animas River valley, contributing to River Watch’s state-wide data set. Data is used by the Water Quality Control Division in implementing the Clean Water Act. Interested volunteers may also provide engaging, hands-on education opportunities to school children and the public.
  • Forestry: Our forests have been dramatically altered over the decades by grazing, logging, fire suppression, changing climates, and other impacts. Our local land managers have called for MSI to help develop a citizen science program around forest health. Stay tuned, or sign-up in advance, as we develop volunteer citizen science opportunities in our local forests.

II. Stewardship

MSI offers numerous opportunities, especially over the summer, to get your hands dirty by collecting seeds, restoring damaged wetlands, removing invasive plants, and more.


A look back at our busy and productive 2018 season.
Ophir & Chattanooga Fen Revegetation Day on Friday, July 13th
Wildflower Walk & Oxeye Daisy Removal Day on Saturday, July 21st
Ophir & Chattanooga Fen Revegetation Day on Monday, July 25th
Forest Health Walk, Talk & Work Day on Saturday, July 28th
Ophir & Chattanooga Fen Revegetation Day on Saturday, August 4th
Wacky Water Bugs Event on Saturday, August 11th
Ophir & Chattanooga Fen Revegetation Day on Saturday, August 18th
Ophir & Chattanooga Fen Seed Collection Event on Saturday, September 15th Ophir & Chattanooga Fen Seed Collection Event on Saturday, September 29th

III. Education

  • Experience Mountain Science Program: Mountain Studies Institute partners with our schools to engage students in locally relevant, hands-on science learning opportunities. Volunteers can:
    • Develop relevant, engaging activities for us to take to schools, or to the river or forest. Volunteers will work with MSI staff to develop your own ideas or concepts that we have lined up that need building into quality activities.
    • Work with students, both indoors and in the great outdoor living classroom. MSI will train and work alongside volunteers to engage students with our pre-built activities.
  • Mountain Discovery Center: MSI’s Mountain Discovery Center (MDC) in Silverton (open summers only), gives us an opportunity to interface with tourists and locals alike in a prominent downtown location. There are three ways for volunteers to get involved in the MDC:
    • Staff it. We need help keeping the doors open. Have fun engaging with kids and adults from all over the country, and even the world. Lead people through activities, answer questions, and spark thoughtful conversations about our mountain systems.
    • Provide tours. Do you have knowledge (of mining, flowers, wildlife, hydrology, geology, etc) that you would like to share with the public? MSI staff will work with you to design and lead a tour out of our MDC. This can be a driving tour, walking tour, or hands-on activity for any age group. We want to hear your ideas!
    • Design exhibits and activities that teach mountain science from the San Jauns and beyond. Work with MSI staff to develop engaging, educational exhibits that relate to our theme(s).

To sign-up to hear about volunteer opportunities email Jeremy May at jeremy@mountainstudies.org

Tell me which volunteer jobs you are interested in, or simply sign-up to learn about all of them!