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The Value of Unconventional Partnerships

The Value of Unconventional Partnerships

By: Michelle Barker
Posted: May 16, 2016

Linn Area Mountain Bike Association (LAMBA), in Linn County, Iowa, partnered with Cedar Rapids Parks and United Way to participate in United Way’s annual Day of Caring. This year's project was debris and trash clean up along the newly developed Sac and Fox singletrack. Flood events had deposited a fair amount of brightly colored plastic debris in the woods and grasslands adjacent to the trail corridor and the volunteers worked to move these unnatural items so they could be disposed of properly.

This type of event helps a chapter like LAMBA continue their conservation and preservation efforts while building and developing a sense of community and capacity for more trails. Many people in the area don’t know there are great singletrack trails for biking, running, and hiking so this event helps to also spread the word about these wonderful facilities. Mountain bikers seek a connection with nature and want to preserve the parks and natural spaces where they recreate; these events demonstrate that desire not only for municipal departments, but also for organizations like nature centers and other conservation focused groups.

While a partnership with the local parks and recreation department is essential, other partnerships, with groups like United Way, are sometimes overlooked or underutilized. This single day event saw eighty volunteers, logging nearly 300 hours, removing six tons of trash and debris, and filling 75 bags with the invasive species garlic mustard. Using the national volunteer hourly rate, this equates to a value of nearly $7000.

The less tangible values are the ongoing positive relationship with the parks department. The chapter logs the third highest number of volunteer hours annually in the city and continually receives recognition for this feat. This volunteer day engaged citizens who didn’t identify as mountain bikers, but were interested in trails in the community, creating a broader base of future users and volunteers.

A vast majority of our Midwest chapters are engaging in unconventional partnerships and tracking their volunteer hours and output. These metrics help us to continually share the value our volunteer chapters provide to local municipalities, strengthen our communities, and create opportunity for more great mountain bike experiences.


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Michelle is the Midwest Region Director and lives in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. She and her family have traveled across the country and to parts of Canada to experience great mountain biking.

Michelle is the Midwest Region Director and lives in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. She and her family have traveled across the country and to parts of Canada to experience great mountain biking.

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