If you'd like to become more involved, please consider becoming a Volunteer Leader. Lots of people are willing to volunteer but not everyone wants to lead. Your leadership will turn ideas into accomplishments, and visions into reality.
Volunteer Leaders: (1) identify needs, (2) request service projects, (3) lead service projects, and (4) report results.
As a user of Sam Houston National Forest, or a member of the Sam Houston Trails Coalition (SHTC), you may notice things on the trail that need addressing. All trails need regular maintenance to keep them safe and enjoyable, as well as repairs from storms and other events. You can take it upon yourself to make a difference. Talk with the Director of your User Group and other trail leaders for their thoughts and collaboration so activities are coordinated.
Your fresh eyes and ideas will create needed change.
You can start a service project by filling out the Service Project Request form. This form goes to the US Forest Service (USFS) for review and approval. The approved project will then be emailed back to you, User Group Directors, and USFS key personnel and Law Enforcement. If you need to cancel your workday, email a reply to all so everyone is aware that your team will not be working in the woods on that date.
The second part of setting up a service project is selecting the Job Hazard Analysis (JHA). The USFS requires a JHA on every service project. This is a basic form that makes sure volunteers are aware of the hazards during the service project. You will need to print and bring this form to the service project to be reviewed and signed by all participants.
There are different JHAs according to the nature of the work and equipment used during the service project.
Trail Maintenance JHA - the most common, used for general trail work (lopping, hand tools / brushing, power tools and mowing with push mower, zero turn mower, and walking brush cutter).
Chainsaw JHA - if you use a chainsaw. Requires sawyer certification.
Heavy Equipment JHA - if you use dozers, excavators, etc. Requires equipment certification and USFS Driver's License.
General Driving JHA - if you use any Forest Service automobile. Requires USFS Driver's License.
Trailer and Towing JHA - if you use any Forest Service truck and trailer. Requires USFS Driver's License.
If you have questions about which JHA to choose, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The USFS Volunteer Certification page has more information about getting certified and the USFS Driver's License.
As a service project leader, you will take charge and be responsible for the activities/safety of your volunteers.
Project check-in - Verify that all volunteers have a current VSA (Volunteer Service Agreement) by viewing it via hard or digital copy. Confirm that all volunteers are over 18 or have a parent/guardian present if a minor. Review the JHA with the volunteers in a tailgate safety meeting. Ensure that everyone understands the hazards of the work and how to mitigate them. Also consider meet up points, access for emergency vehicles, and a way to contact all volunteers if you split up. Once reviewed, all volunteers must sign the last (signature) page of the JHA. Volunteers must also complete the Volunteer Sign-in Sheet.
Before you begin work, text 936-337-3348 "On Trail". This indicates that your service project is starting.
Service Project - Start the RAMBLR app. This app is used to document all service projects. After starting a new "track", take a picture of the signed JHA page and your Volunteer Sign-in Sheet. This will show as the first two photos in the RAMBLR map. During the project, make sure to document with before and after pictures from the same viewpoint. Label the pictures so it's clear to someone that will view the project map afterwards. When you're on the trail the work seems obvious. This is not the case when you are viewing a 2-dimensional picture. When you're done, don't forget to stop the map recording.
Project check-out - Make sure everyone is off of the trail and safe. Confirm if you will log crew hours or everyone will do their own. Text again to 936-337-3348, with an "off the trail" message. Double check that you've stopped the Ramblr recording.
RAMBLR is the official app for documenting the service project activities and location. Include pictures of the JHA signature sheet, the Volunteer Sign-in Sheet, and before/after pictures of each task. RAMBLR allows for labels on the pictures and notes that helps the Forest Service and group leaders understand the work that was done. Please include the RAMBLR link of your service project in your Volunteer Hours Submission.
Each volunteer can submit their own hours or the workday leader can log all hours for their crew. Confirm with volunteers. If volunteers are logging their own hours, please follow up to ensure their hours get reported. If the workday leader is logging all hours, follow up with an emailed copy of the report to your volunteers. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on these reports both for matching grants and to get more support. The service project is complete when volunteer hours are submitted.