We often get asked what it takes to secure a job with the Stewardship, and there could be no better example than the story of Jeff Sperry, who was hired last summer as the Volunteer Co-Coordinator for all three of our world-class bicycle events.
Jeff first came to Downieville to ride the infamous downhill 15 years ago. At the time he had no idea what trail stewardship was, only that someone built these amazing trails and he wanted to ride them.
Jeff noticed signs posted along the trail about the Stewardship, and began to learn what it was all about. He heard about our volunteer Trail Daze, where the public is invited to join our Professional Trail Crew, building new trail and maintaining existing trail in need of love.
“I had the mentality that I would come up to help out sometime, but life would always get in the way,” said Jeff. “I decided that if I couldn’t give my time, I could give financially, so I joined SBTS as a Core Member in 2011.”
The money Core Members like Jeff donate every month goes directly to the trails, in the form of equipment and salaries for the trail crew.
Jeff and his family came to their first Epic Weekend in 2016, a weekend for Core and Annual Members filled with camping, a day of playing on the trails and a day of trail work; a weekend of good times and shenanigans with bunch of friends old and new.
“After attending the Epic Weekend with my wife and daughter, I knew I had found my tribe,” said Jeff. “I wanted to do as much as I could to be a part of the SBTS experience, and vowed to participate in as many SBTS events as I possibly could.”
Jeff then signed up for the 2016 Downieville Classic, volunteering for a few shifts in the beer booth. He wound up having such a good time that he worked as many shifts as we allowed him.
“Who doesn’t want to have a job where everyone who visits you is happy to see you?” asked Jeff. “I worked the booth until it shut down Saturday night, then rocked out to the band that took over Main Street for the post-race party. The drive home Sunday was a sad one, since it meant the event was over.”
Jeff was hooked and came back for more, volunteering for Grinduro in October and Lost & Found the following June. Jeff signed up as soon as volunteer slots became available, working the beer booth, race registration, and wherever our hero volunteer coordinator and Stewardship executive board member, Debbie Bonovich, needed him.
“Through the process I noticed that volunteer sign-ups weren’t the most efficient, as everything was done over email,” said Jeff. “I offered Debbie my assistance in streamlining the process. We discussed various ways to make her job easier, and I helped her implement some ideas.”
At Grinduro 2017, Jeff was in his happy place working the beer booth when an SBTS crew member approached him.
“I was told to go up to the main stage, as they were calling my name over the PA system, so I reluctantly gave up my post,” said Jeff. “Turns out Giro had a custom Grinduro bike they wanted to give to an especially hard-working volunteer, and my name came up! I was amazed and humbled, as I felt I was only doing my part to help out as much as possible. It was really nice to be recognized in this way.”
For Lost & Found 2018, Jeff took on even more responsibilities, taking charge of the beer setup at Coot Bay, helping with racer registration, and making sure the podium made it down to Portola for the awards ceremony.
“I felt I was really starting to become a valuable member of the tribe,” said Jeff.
A little while before the 2018 Downieville Classic, Debbie reached out to see if Jeff wanted to join SBTS as an employee and formally assist with the events.
“The volunteer coordination was starting to get to be too much for one person,” said Jeff. “Debbie needed someone to help her, and I was honored that she thought of me. I immediately said yes and jumped in with both feet. The Classic was my first SBTS event as an employee.”
Since that time Jeff has acted as the Volunteer Co-Coordinator with Debbie. It’s a big job, but highly rewarding, as the events couldn’t happen without the volunteers.
“It’s nice to see the events from planning to completion, and to see the smiles on everyone’s faces because they are having a great time. After all, isn’t that what it’s all about?”
Indeed it is, Jeff. And it’s also all about showing up, because most employees in the Stewardship started just like Jeff, as a passionate volunteer.
Want to help out, have a great time and make some lifelong friends? We’re currently filling volunteer spots for the Lost and Found on June 1. Follow the link below: