Love animals? There are many ways to safely help furry, feathered, and other creatures. From helping to count wildlife and identify invasive species as a citizen scientist to raising puppies who will become service dogs, here’s how you can make a difference in the lives of animals, all right from your home.
Researchers who need help gathering wildlife and insect counts may turn to the public for help. This provides interesting and fun opportunities for you to lend a hand from home. For example, the Great Sunflower Project is studying bee populations around the country. To participate, you need a bit of a green thumb. The project asks that you plant and grow lemon queen sunflowers in your yard. Once they bloom, you count the number of pollinators that land on the sunflowers in five-minute segments.
Are you more of a lizard fan? Head on over to Zooniverse’s project center and count Galapagos iguanas from aerial photos, or help spot New Zealand’s endangered Otago skinks. Bird watchers are in luck, too. The Cornell University Lab of Ornithology’s Nestwatch program is also looking for volunteers to report on the nesting habits of birds in their area. Take a test to get certified, then explore the outdoors around you and report back on the nests you find. Or sit back and log on to Penguin Watch to help count penguins in remote regions to help scientists better understand them.
Invasive species may threaten animal habitats. If you live in certain coastal regions, the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center periodically needs help placing, monitoring, and collecting plastic tiles under docks to track the growth of invasive marine species.
Whether you want to liven up your next office videoconference or want to have a special visitor when you videochat with your family, the Cincinnati Zoo puts the zoo in Zoom. For a fee, you can get a 15-minute call with zoo stars like Fiona the hippopotamus or a group of wallabies or goats.
Organizations like the ASPCA are devoted to helping animals. You can help amplify their voice. Urge your congressional representative to make animal safety a priority. And make animal-friendly choices, by avoiding factory-farmed food for your pet. The organization’s advocacy center has more ways you can help without leaving home.
Humans’ best friends can be their source of help, too. Canine Companions for Independence and Guide Dogs for America train service dogs to help people with disabilities. They need volunteers to support their efforts, including raising service puppies at home.
Help facilitate the adoption of companion pets for U.S. vets through the Pets for Patriots program. While the small program focuses on donations, which you could facilitate through a local fundraising initiative, they also connect directly with veterans interested in adopting. Pets for Vets makes similar matches and is seeking volunteers to provide foster homes and dog trainers, among other skills. So, if you have a hero in your family or neighborhood, you can make a difference simply by showing them that this organization exists.
For more ideas and inspiration, try this simple search, and use keyword “animals.”