by Leanna Joyner, ATC's Program Director for Volunteer Relations

Volunteerism in the Age of COVID-19

COVID-19 impacted all volunteer activities in 2020, including temporary suspension of club activities, cancellation of a number of A.T. Trail Crews, the closure of visitor centers to guests and volunteers who share information at those sites, and events specifically designed to invite and orient new volunteers.

All total for the whole Trail, 3,562 volunteers contributed 111,565 hours for the period from Oct. 1, 2019 to September 30, 2020. This is a 60% decrease in volunteers and a 53% decrease in hours from the same period a year earlier.

This data is reflected in a recent survey of A.T. clubs on COVID-19 volunteer reengagement in which these volunteer coordinating groups share the percentage of volunteers that resumed work on the Trail at any point after March 2020; the median of all responses is 60%.

Most clubs responding to the survey (70%) report working in smaller groups and utilizing more personal protective equipment, in response to Adaptive Recovery Guidelines. Just 3% of respondents said work has not resumed by their club, and 11 % report that while limited work is occurring, work has not fully resumed. About half of all clubs say that projects planned for 2020 were delayed and are not expected until 2021.