As Columbia begins to see warmer weather, residents can start to take full advantage of the dozens of hiking trails and more than 70 parks the city has to offer.

Volunteers help keep the parks in good shape by removing invasive plant species, monitoring trails, tidying up gardens and completing renovations, among other duties.

Nature-lovers can provide a public service while spending time outdoors through a variety of volunteer programs at city parks.

City of Columbia Park Patrol

Known as the “goodwill ambassadors,” Park Patrol volunteers monitor trails and parks to increase the sense of security for visitors. Volunteers can run, walk or bike while on duty and enjoy the facilities while keeping an eye on the MKT Trail, Bear Creek Trail, Grindstone Trail and other spots.

Duration: April through October; minimum of four hours per month.

Contact: City of Columbia Volunteer Programs, (573) 874-7499,

Volunteers in Parks (VIP) This statewide program sets up a range of volunteer opportunities for a variety of interests and skills. At Missouri State Parks, VIPs lend a hand in visitor centers, catalog historic items, maintain trail renovations, serve as tour guides, care for plant life and perform other duties.

Duration: Varies, from single-day projects to weekly tasks.

Contact: Missouri State Parks volunteer coordinator, (573) 751-7733,


Once volunteers select a quarter-mile section of a local trail, the adopters are asked to remove invasive plant species from the area. There is no monetary cost to adopt a trail, just a commitment to continually improve the area. Volunteers are trained and receive assistance from staff members.

Duration: April through November yearly; once a month is encouraged.

Contact: City of Columbia Volunteer Programs, (573) 874-7499,

Cleanup ColumbiaFor groups, families and others looking for a one-time volunteering event, Cleanup Columbia may be the ideal gig. Volunteers pick up trash along streets, streams or trails in city parks and around Columbia, with materials provided by the organization.

Duration: Two to three hours during a date and time of one’s choosing.

Contact: City of Columbia Volunteer Programs, (573) 874-7499,

TreeKeepersVolunteers assist the city with tree care projects, which may include pruning, planting, mulching, invasive removal and other manual labor. Participants also receive training on tree identification and maintenance. The projects are scheduled for Saturday mornings.

Duration: Saturday mornings as needed.

Contact: City of Columbia Volunteer Programs, (573) 874-7499,

  • VOX reporter, fall 2021 Studying journalism Reach me at, or in the newsroom at 573-882-5700

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