At the Vermont Council on Rural Development (VCRD), we are passionate about the importance of local leadership and supporting individuals and their communities to build a positive future for Vermont. Democracy requires that each of us step forward in service to each other. Most of the time, especially in rural communities, local leadership involves a volunteer position, meaning these individuals stepping forward are unpaid and likely serving on other community committees.

So, why volunteer? It takes a ton of time and energy, it isn’t paid, and you will quickly add to your list of things to do.

Having met hundreds of exceptional volunteer leaders across Vermont, the staff at VCRD has seen first-hand the positive impacts of volunteering in your community. As a staff, we are here to share our top 5 reasons why we feel individuals should make the decision to lend a helping hand in their community.

An Opportunity to Try Something New

Individuals of all ages are often uncertain when thinking about what the future holds for their careers. Decisions about the future can be daunting, and people can find themselves questioning their career choices and wanting to take a different path. By actively volunteering in your community, you are testing the waters of various fields to find areas that you enjoy or even more importantly, what you do not.

Learn Something Extraordinary 

Similarly to trying something new, volunteering also creates an opportunity to learn new skills and gain new experiences that otherwise may have never been an option. Sometimes volunteering in a capacity that you are least familiar with can create a space for individuals to grow professionally and learn very different skills.

Building Your Network

Establishing relationships is a key piece to building your professional career, especially in rural communities. There may be networking opportunities like mixers through the local young professional’s group or a Chamber of Commerce. However, some of the best connections are made during a volunteer event or opportunity where individuals have common interests and passions already established. It can be astounding the people you can meet that can lead to your next career move or idea. Not only does networking help boost your professional career, but it is also likely that you will make lasting friendships along the way.

Be Part of Something Bigger than Yourself

It is always incredible to see projects come to life, especially when they happen thanks to local volunteers. As a volunteer, you are able to be part of something impactful such as feeding hungry families, building a park, beautifying a town, saving an animal, renovating a homeless shelter, or starting a new childcare center. Contributing to these projects that bring people together and create public value is rewarding and vitally important for the future of our communities. It matters – these projects would not happen but for the incredible local leaders stepping into these roles.

You’ll Have a Blast

When you are trying something new, learning something extraordinary, building your network, and being part of something bigger than yourself, it is no surprise that individuals volunteering are genuinely having a good time while doing it. As we said, volunteering can take a tremendous amount of time and energy, but those that are participating are having the best time.

There are countless reasons why volunteering in your community is important and the benefits it can have on you as an individual. However, at the end of the day, all of us at VCRD believe in volunteering because it allows you as an individual to provide a service and be a leader in the place that you are fortunate to call home.


The Vermont Council on Rural Development works to support local leadership across Vermont, especially those within volunteer roles in their communities. Vermont is a place where motivated individuals have real power to make positive change. To support local leadership through volunteerism, consider making a contribution to VCRD today.