Paws for a Cause is a series where we chat with our friends, clients, and peers in our local Colorado community. It’s a chance to check in and see how everyone’s doing in business and life. Today we’re chatting with Liz of HistoriCorps, a great little org that has worked with YellowDog on projects like training guide booklet printing and postcard mailings to help with their fundraising campaigns.
YellowDog: Hello Liz! Give us the short version of your nonprofit’s mission. What population or cause do you serve?
Liz Rice: We, at HistoriCorps, inspire a preservation ethic in volunteers, youth, and students through training them in historic preservation skills. Annually, our expert staff train 700+ individuals in preservation skills. Those skills are put to work, saving historic places—such as fire lookout towers, Civilian Conservation Corps buildings, Civil War-era structures, and more—that are at risk of being lost to time. Serving the public, HistoriCorps works to ensure America’s cultural and historical resources exist for generations to come.
YD: How and when did your nonprofit start?
LR: We have been training people to save places since our first project in Saguache, CO, in 2009. We were founded through funding from the American Restoration and Recovery Act and have grown exponentially since our first project in Saguache, CO. Volunteering has always been free with us—we provide a vacation experience, with all meals, tools, equipment, and a campsite—and we’re excited to keep it that way!
YD: What was your journey into your role as the head/director? How did you get here?
LR: I have always believed in the importance of expanding access to new career paths for young people, especially in environmental and cultural stewardship fields. As a returned Peace Corps volunteer myself, and current board member of the all-volunteer Golden Optimists Bicycle Recycle Program, I have a personal understanding of the incredible power volunteers can contribute to accomplishing organizational and community goals. As an experienced traveler and outdoors lover, I love helping others explore new places and give back to their communities.
YD: COVID-19 has been a part of our lives for over two years now. What have you learned about your organization, and/or how have you adapted?
LR: This year, we strategically diversified and expanded the number of lives our work touches. However, the past year has not been without its challenges. The COVID-19 pandemic, fires, floods, and storms have affected individuals and communities around the globe. In the face of so much instability, we had two options: shrink down to a skeletal selection of programs and projects, or trust in ourselves and our goals to launch our largest and most diverse season yet.
We are proud to share that we chose the latter. It hasn’t been easy, but I’m lucky to work with an incredibly talented, creative, committed team. Here are some of our highlights from the 2021 season:
- Engaged more than 700 volunteers on historic preservation projects
- Increased our partnerships with youth conservation corps and introduced more than 100 young people to a new career field in the trades
- Developed two new multi-week training programs for demographics typically under-represented in historic preservation trades
- Expanded and diversified our Board of Directors
- Stabilized, restored, and breathed new life into more than 50 historic buildings so that individuals and communities across the country can continue to learn from them.
YD: What are the top three items on a “wishlist” for your organization?
LR: We need more volunteers, donors, and staff to continue fueling our growth into the organization we are meant to be—one that inspires and expands the preservation community by investing in skills training programs.
YD: Describe your organization in three words.
LR: Adventurous Community of Learners.
YD: Love it! Thanks for sharing your story!
Now for some friendly rapid-fire questions:
Are you a dog person or a cat person?
I was a cat person until I got a dog.
Early bird or night owl?
I’ll take a sunrise over a sunset anytime.
Favorite local beer?
Alpine Dog’s Thunder Puppy
What’s your best party trick?
Peeling an orange in one piece.
What show are you currently binging?
Legend of Korra
Any book you’re currently reading?
There, There by Tommy Orange
What are you looking forward to most in 2022?
Turning our lawn into a garden and inviting friends over to enjoy it.
YD: Thanks, Liz! It has been wonderful to hear your story and learn about how HistoriCorps is helping history remain vibrant!