Home|Stewardship|Volunteering at McDowell Sonoran Conservancy

Becoming A Volunteer

Thank you for your interest in becoming a volunteer Steward with McDowell Sonoran Conservancy.

To become a steward, you must complete and submit two applications and an orientation. To make sure the experience is not overwhelming, mentors and program representatives provide a support system. The process of becoming a full-fledged steward is upbeat and uplifting. You will feel that you’ve joined a great organization serving a great cause, and you will be on your way to working with others like you.

Every applicant must submit an orientation fee of $75 and “The Conservancy Steward Application.” You will be asked to create a Username and Password before completing the application. This Username/Password combination will remain throughout your time with the Conservancy. You must register and complete the Conservancy’s online application below before proceeding to Step 2.


Pay your fee here
Conservancy’s Online Application

Because stewards are also volunteers for the City of Scottsdale (COS), a City of Scottsdale Volunteer Application is also required. Yes, both of these applications are required. The COS uses this to complete a background check. After the COS receives your application, you will receive a secure web link where you will enter your private information.

  • Download and save the COS Application. You must download the application before you can fill it out.
City of Scottsdale Volunteer Application
  • Complete the application and save it.
  • Attach the application to an email to debbie@mcdowellsonoran.org or send by postal mail to:

Volunteer Coordinator
McDowell Sonoran Conservancy

8175 E. Evans Rd., #12817
Scottsdale, AZ 85260
(480) 998-7971 

  • Please submit your orientation fee at least two weeks prior to the class date to reserve a spot.
  • Make checks payable to McDowell Sonoran Conservancy or call us with your credit card information. Our office number is (480) 998-7971; please ask for Debbie McKeighan (x100).
  • Questions about the application process should be directed to Debbie McKeighan.

Stewardship 101 orientation class usually held on the second Saturday of each month from September through March, and you will be assigned a mentor who will guide you and help you set a pathway to stewardship.

This class is the first step in learning what you need to know to become a steward. Stewardship 101 is an introduction to the Conservancy, the relationship between the Conservancy and City of Scottsdale, the mission of the Conservancy, what it means to be a steward, and meaningful ways in which stewards can get involved. You’ll learn about commitments, resources and tools available to you.

The orientation is fun. It includes “speed dating,” a fast-paced introduction to the programs by program leaders themselves. After Stewardship 101, you are required to participate in one activity in three different programs of your choice (total three activities), complete a Desert First Aid / CCC class and a Sonoran Desert 101 class. Finally, you will complete a simple, open book, online exercise to familiarize you with the website’s content before achieving stewardship. Mentors will help you plan to meet those requirements. On average, most Stewards-in-Training become stewards within six to eight weeks although some graduate more quickly!

Participants who complete the class portion of the orientation are assigned a mentor. The mentor helps guide a participant with field orientation sessions and introduction to the variety of stewardship opportunities and steward programs.

As stewards, we pride ourselves on recognizing what needs to be done for the Conservancy’s success and partnering with staff to make it happen. In our organization, we all share the load. We’ve determined that we should be prepared to contribute in four key areas critical to ensuring our sustainability. These areas and their guidelines are:

  • Time (volunteer in multiple programs and roles. Aim is a minimum of 60 hours per year)
  • Leadership (throughout the course of your stewardship be prepared to accept some level of leadership role)
  • Support (help with both the public-facing and behind the scenes work)
  • Financial Contribution (contribute according to your means. Aim is a minimum of $60 per year)

Your active participation in all four areas is a simple but crucial way to support your fellow stewards and ensure that the Conservancy’s mission is accomplished.

We understand the demands on time and schedules, and being a steward may not fit into your plans. We also offer service days and periodic volunteer events within the Preserve and the City of Scottsdale, so please keep an eye out for those opportunities. Also know that your financial contributions go a long way to help our programming in the Preserve, education outreach in Title 1 Schools, and further our scientific research within the Sonoran Desert!

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