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The Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers (RFOV) works to promote stewardship of our public lands by creating volunteer opportunities for trail work and conservation projects. RFOV’s regional community includes seven towns in the central Colorado Roaring Fork and Colorado River valleys: Aspen, Basalt, Carbondale, Glenwood Springs, New Castle, Silt, and Rifle— and several unincorporated areas in between. Key to these efforts is RFOV's all-volunteer Marketing & Publicity Committee (M&P).
project announcements and other RFOV promotional materials
The engaging program developed and implemented by M&P has greatly elevated our profile in this community, and increased our membership (currently 460 individuals and 30+businesses), thus focusing attention on our goals and increasing our volunteer core, as well as the financial support that is critical to achieve and broaden our programs.
We have a distinctive “brand” that illustrates our inclusive, fun approach to the important and demanding work we accomplish all year. RFOV’s tagline “We do trails—together!” was developed by M&P in 2007 to our communicate and underscore these values.
In the past two years, M&P members have written, designed and produced numerous print and electronic media pieces and other communications that educate the public about stewardship values and RFOV programs in a positive, inspiring way, inviting them to participate and take ownership in the future of their public lands.
An importat part of the marketing effort is our eight-page newsletters with articles about building and maintaining sustainable trails, upcoming opportunities to volunteer for regional projects (both RFOV and partner-organized), committee work, training opportunities, RFOV programs such as Adopt-A-Trail, and the value and necessity of partnering with federal, state and local agencies. The newsletters also recognized outstanding volunteers. Each edition was mailed to 11,000 regional addresses.
The annual project announcement (mailed to 9,000 addresses) and poster (displayed by regional businesses) provided a schedule and description of upcoming volunteer projects (8 projects in 2007 and 10 in 2008) and Crew Leader training opportunities. The announcement was designed so that the project schedule could be detached from the sign-up form and posted on a refrigerator or bulletin board for easy reference.
Individual project flyers (mailed to targeted zip codes) announced each event and provided detail about the planned work, project partners, and how to sign up.
Articles about FROV in regional newspapers
Media releases were sent to all regional newspapers, radio stations, and public-access television stations at the beginning of each project season, and in advance of each project or special event. Post-event releases were sent to and published by media outlets in the communities closest to each completed project, with a photo from the event. Post-event Letters to the Editor described the work accomplished and thanked partners, participants and sponsors.
Newspaper display advertising and calendar postings in local publications and magazines, as well as email blasts, encouraged participation in upcoming projects and Crew Leader training. An electronic page on local public-access television announced upcoming volunteer opportunities.
Full-color educational pieces, produced for projects in 2006, 2007, and the first project in 2008, provided background and history, as well as interesting facts and information about what each project would accomplish. These pieces were sent via email to each volunteer who signed up, were available on project day, and were mailed out with a thank-you letter to each participant. If the text was provided by a project partner, he or she was invited to present the information during the lunch or dinner break on project day.
Two different categories of trail signage were designed and produced: temporary signs to invite frequent users of specific trails to participate in an upcoming project, and permanent signs that give the name of the trail, the agency responsible for maintaining the trail, and the RFOV logo. All of these signs informed trail users of the need for ongoing maintenance.
The RFOV website, www.rfov.org, was maintained and expanded by M&P and received about 500 visitors per month. The site describes our mission and vision, upcoming projects and training, committees, partners, past projects, and much more, and was the primary venue for project signup and communication. Project maps based on GoogleEarth™ imagery were included with each project description on the “Projects” page of the website.
A short video was developed to introduce viewers to RFOV and show how much is accomplished by our volunteers, and sent to regional public-access TV stations. A “Road Show” including a PowerPoint presentation and the video was presented to service clubs and special-interest groups all over the valley.
A sponsor-recognition packet was developed, including a personalized, framed certificate thanking our sponsors and donors for both cash and in-kind donations, and info about RFOV.
RFOV's all-volunteer Marketing & Publicity Committee
In 2007-08, RFOV organized its first-ever winter event, designed to bring attention to the organization and our mission during the off-season. Entitled the “Town to Town Tour,” the event is a cross-country ski and snowshoe tour of the Rio Grande Trail from Aspen to Basalt, Colorado, a distance of 14.6 miles. The family-friendly Tour is the only winter event on the new paved trail, which links communities along the entire 33-mile length of the Roaring Fork Valley. M&P was an integral part of the success of the inaugural Tour held on January 19, 2008, designing an entirely new logo and motif that reflected the spirit of the event.
M&P also designed and produced an entire media campaign including a brochure/entry form, poster, Save-the-Date postcard, display advertising, course signage, sponsor packets, and banners. Media releases, sign-up tables at local ski areas and grocery stores, and the excitement generated by compelling print publicity were credited with helping to create a tremendous pre-event “buzz” throughout the valley. The initial goal was 150 to 175 participants; 364 turned out for the event. Support and awareness of RFOV increased measurably as a result of the 2008 Tour, and attendance is expected to double in 2009.
In the spring of 2008, M&P began planning for creation of an on-line trail database that will eventually include information about features, difficulty, and amenities of every trail in our service area, and be searchable by category. The database will link to our website and will draw both residents and tourists, providing another, and potentially very broad, venue for getting our message out.
M&P volunteers donated more than 800 hours per year to RFOV, and accomplished all of the above tasks at a cost of just under $176,000 in 2007. The 2008 budget, including the Town to Town Tour is $225,400. These efforts attracted 962 project-day volunteers, or 12,400 volunteer hours, in 2007 alone.
M&P members during the nomination period included Chair Linda Schuemaker, Bruce Barth, Dawn Dexter, Kirk Hinderberg, Meredith McKee, Suzie Romig, Michael Thompson, Lindsey Utter, Laura Vogel, and Kathleen Wanatowicz. RFOV’s Executive Director, David Hamilton, and Administrative Assistant Melissa DeHaan provided critical input and support.
About Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers
The Western Slope of Colorado is a mecca for outdoor recreation. Among numerous public lands, White River National Forest – the most visited national forest in the country – surrounds most of the Roaring Fork Valley with some of the most awe-inspiring wilderness in the nation. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) also oversees significant areas. Additionally, city and county governments and other organizations manage large amounts of public land. With such an emphasis on the outdoors, it is no surprise that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of miles of trail in the immediate vicinity. RFOV is the only local non-profit organization with a primary mission of maintaining the Valley’s trail systems.
Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers began in 1995 in an effort to empower the community to take ownership in its trails. Through partnerships with a wide variety of agencies and other organizations, RFOV has flourished. With more than 400 members and half-a-dozen various committees, RFOV currently organizes 10 to 12 full-scale projects each year in addition to supporting nine adopt-a-trail groups. All projects are on public land or easements and occur with agency input and authorization. RFOV is known in the valley as being an authority on trails. Forest Service, BLM, and other agency employees routinely attend RFOV’s crew leader training sessions in order to learn proper trail maintenance and construction techniques.
Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers, 2110 Blake Ave, Glenwood Springs CO 81601
Phone: 970-845-5776 Fax: 970-945-3066