In 1931, Harold C. Bradley, Porter Butts, and a small group of students established the Wisconsin Hoofers. Eight decades later, as one of the largest and most active collegiate outdoor recreation programs in the country, Hoofers continues to offer outdoor recreation activities and bond new communities around the outdoors. Your generous volunteerism (upon approval/acceptance by Hoofers) helps to enrich our community of outdoor enthusiasts. Hoofers membership and involvement is generally based around volunteerism, however there are other opportunities to volunteer/lead with Wisconsin Hoofers for those who are not active club members.

What Does Volunteering at Hoofers Look Like?

Volunteering at Hoofers is not required, but highly recommended! It is spread throughout our club history and is still an integral part of our club today. Again, it’s a great way to meet other members and it can help members become even more knowledgeable in the different types of fleets offered here at Hoofers! Volunteering is usually a commitment of a maximum of four hours. The workload required from members varies on the specific event; but feel free to talk with your work party leader or the volunteer coordinator if you have any concerns! You can come and go as your schedule demands; and any help is better than none! Volunteering is also a great learning experience. Whether you’re a novice or an expert, there is a volunteer opportunity for every member! What else does volunteering at Hoofers look like? Fun! It’s not all hard work and no fun. Play some music, share some dinner, enjoy the weather, volunteering isn’t boring unless you make it!

Why Should You Volunteer?


“It's friendships and fun that inspire people to get involved, and it's these people that make the club work!” Besides keeping member dues low and getting your work refund back, volunteering is a great way to socialize! In the end, the real payment doesn’t come back in the form of money, but in the form of great memories, fun experiences and camaraderie. The best feeling in the world though? Knowing that you’ve given back to the club in some way! It’s thanks to the hard work and dedication of our fellow members who volunteer that we are able to have a club that is as awesome it is today!

Work Hour Deposits

When you join the club, your membership fee includes two separate work hour deposits which cover the costs necessary to maintain the club. Every member (except those who purchase only a monthly, or winter membership) has the opportunity to earn back their work deposits by volunteering for the club.

After earning your first 4 work hours, you can reclaim the first portion of your work deposit. After an additional 4 hours, you can earn back the second portion of your work deposit. Union Annual Membership holders can qualify for a third after completing 12 total hours of volunteer work. This totals to a possible $90 for Union Annual membership holders and you can earn back by simply giving your time to the club.

**It is important to note that you must redeem your work deposit before the membership term in which you did the work hours expires.**

If you should choose not to redeem your deposit, the funds will be donated directly to the Hoofer Sailing Club.

To check how many work hours you have earned, simply log onto your account on the lessons site.

Once you have earned either 4, 8, or 12 work hours, simply go to the Outdoor Programs Office in the Memorial Union and ask one of the friendly staff for a refund request form. Your refund will be issued as a check to your address and will take 4-6 weeks to be processed. Unfortunately we are unable to directly reimburse the refund to your debit or credit card.

Volunteer Opportunities

  • Socials: Our Friday Night Socials during the summer wouldn’t be possible without the help of our members! Volunteers are needed to set up equipment and serve food.
  • Pier-in and Pier-out: At the beginning and end of the sailing season (and in case of inclement weather), we need volunteers to help us put in our piers to kick off the season, and help take out the piers so we can hibernate until next summer! This usually takes place in late April and again in late September.
  • Lift-in and Lift-out: At the beginning and end of the sailing season (early May/mid September), all the help is needed to put in and take out the boats from Lake Mendota! You definitely want to participate, as it is quite a feat to watch!
  • General summer work parties: There are numerous work parties throughout the season for general maintenance at Hoofers. Whether it is pier, boat or sail repair, there’s a work party for everything! Come when you can, and leave when you have to! Make sure to join in on the fun; it’s called a party for a reason!
  • Instruction: Most of our sailing instructors are all volunteers! What does that mean for you? Well, if you feel confident in your skills, teaching and inspiring our next future sailors on any of our fleets is a great way to give back to the club!