Reflecting on the Partnership Initiative

CU MBA Group Photo

In 2007, the County Commissioners and Parks and Open Space staff were inspired by a presentation from Brian O’Neil, the General Superintendent of Golden Gate National Park in San Francisco. O’Neil spoke about the successful Partnership Program that Golden Gate developed to help with the stewardship of that public land. His presentation motivated Boulder County Parks and Open Space to expand its community partnerships beyond one-day group volunteer projects and individual volunteer opportunities, to more long-term, ongoing involvement of businesses and organizations in the stewardship of County public lands. In 2008, the Boulder County Parks and Open Space Department’s Partnership Initiative was created.

One of the Partnerships Initiative’s goals is to involve local business employees and organization members in hands-on long-term stewardship of our county public lands through volunteer opportunities to increase awareness and appreciation of the Boulder County Parks and Open Space program. Today, we have 47 partner groups committed to recruiting between eight and 40 members, at least once a year, to engage in one of our rewarding volunteer projects.

The success of the Partnership Initiative depends upon our devoted partners and would not be possible without our talented and energetic Volunteer Coordinator Team which has grown from 1.5 employees in 2008 to four team members in 2015. To date, partners have contributed approximately 30,000 volunteer hours, valued at around $700,000, but worth so much more than can be assessed in dollars.

Meet Our Volunteer Coordinator Team

Carrie Cimo

Plant Ecologist Volunteer Coordinator
Length of time with department: One and a half years

Carrie received a Bachelor of Science in Conservation Biology from State University of New York and Environmental Science and Forestry. Carrie worked field seasons doing wetland delineation in Watertown, NY, High Desert Vegetation research in Burns, OR, and installed long-term wetland monitoring plots at the Great Sand Dunes National Park. She worked for the City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks for four years prior to joining our department. Carrie really enjoys connecting with volunteers because teaching and learning are two of her favorite activities. Carrie says, “I always learn something from volunteers. Not only do I get to work with amazing people, I am doing it in the context of plants and restoration. Blending people with nature is the perfect fit for me!”

Zephyr McConnell

Trails Volunteer Coordinator
Length of time with department: three months

Zephyr began her trails career in 1998 with the California Conservation Corp Backcountry Program in Yosemite. Since then she has worked in Redwood State Park, Grand Teton, Grand Canyon, Sequoia-Kings, Rocky Mountain, and U.S. Forest Service districts throughout the Pacific Northwest. She also spent time in Antarctica as a carpenter helping construct the new South Pole Station. Zephyr loves learning new things, being in the outdoors, and working with volunteers on the trails.

Shane Milne

Forestry Volunteer Coordinator
Length of time with department: Eight years

Shane received a B.S. from the University of San Diego. He worked at a Wyoming national monument studying fresh water fossil fish, followed by nine years of teaching and natural
resource management at Cal-wood Education Center near Jamestown. Shane is always amazed with how many people
contribute their time to care for our public lands; it reinforces that the public values the department’s work and our natural resources. He loves educating volunteers while caring for our natural resources.

Craig Sommers

Resource Management Volunteer Coordinator
Length of time with department: Five years

Prior to joining Boulder County, Craig worked for the City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks for 10 years. Craig is interested in creating entertaining and gratifying volunteer projects whether it involves forestry, wildlife, plant ecology, weed eradication, or agriculture.

2015 Partner Groups

Trail Stewardship (trail maintenance and construction two or more times a year):
Since 2008: Backpacker Magazine, Boulder Area Trails Coalition, Boulder County Horse Association, Boulder Mountainbike Alliance, Boulder Trail Runners and Redstone Cyclery
Joined after 2008: Singletrack Mountain Bike Adventures, and Ultrarunners
New partner in 2015: Zeal Optics.

Property Stewardship (property maintenance two or more times a year):
Since 2008: Corden Pharma, Geocachers, New Vista High School and Smartwool
Joined after 2008: Boulder Climbing Community, University of Colorado–Program for Writing & Rhetoric, Level 3 Cares, Nederland Area Trail Organization, Oncore Manufacturing, Qualcomm, vAuto Genius Labs, Volunteers for Outdoors Colorado, and Wildland Restoration Volunteers
New partners in 2015: Boulder Country Day School, NetApp, Teens Inc., Teamworks

Foothills Partner: (Participate in at least one trail or property project a year):
Since 2008: Boy Scouts of Boulder County, Mapleton School District, Stratus Consulting, University of Colorado-MBA Program
Joined after 2008: Alexander Dawson School, Alpha Phi Omega, Behind the Red, Defenders of Wildlife, Foothills United Way, Girl Scouts, Google, Lefthand Outdoor Challenge, Olde Columbine High School, Rally Software, Thornton Youth Volunteer Corps, University of Colorado-Upward Bound, and WILD Foundation
New partners in 2015: EMC2, Vail Resorts, Sandisk and Tetratech

For more information about how your organization can partner with us, please visit Open Space Partnership Program.