Spring is a great time to get outdoors - and volunteering can be a good opportunity to get moving. Here are some ways to combine the two.
If you are interested in starting a garden (and giving away some of the bounty to friends), joining or starting a community garden, or simply volunteering to spruce up an area of your community with some new greenery or flowers, why not get into gardening. Even if it’s early to plant outside, you can start planning or planting some starter seeds so they’re ready to transplant outdoors when the weather permits. Find out more about gardening projects at nonprofits like Growing Gardens, Food is Free, and the American Public Gardens Association. Each has volunteer opportunities, too.
Clean it up
After a long winter—or a period of neglect—there are surely areas around you that could use some cleaning up. Gather a group of friends and some masks, gloves, and garbage bags, and head to a local park, beach, or other public area to start cleaning up. Create the Good’s river cleanup guide has tips and ideas you can apply to any sort of outdoor cleanup event. Also, be sure to check out the Leave No Trace program from the Center for Outdoor Ethics, which organizes events to revitalize areas that have severe human-related impact. Look around your neighborhood, too and help people who may be older or unable to work in their yards. Offer to lend a hand to help a friend in need.
Love sports? Local recreation programs, sports leagues, and other groups may need coaches, managers, or organizers for youth and other sports programs. From soccer to lacrosse to track & field, put your love of the game to work—and get some time outdoors, too. Contact your local recreation office to find out what sports teams play in your area and the type of volunteer help they need. And if they don’t have a program for the sport you love, you could always volunteer to start one yourself.
Make it accessible
While the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) led the way for making many places more accessible to people with disabilities, many outdoor areas remain less so. Organizations like the Outdoors for All Foundation, which is based in the Pacific Northwest, organize accessible outdoor activities ranging from snowshoeing to hiking to mountain-biking. TrailLink lists wheelchair-accessible hiking trails by state, and the Disabled Hikers Project also has a trail rating system to identify accessible trails.
Support a park
Local, state, and national park systems rely on volunteers. The National Parks Service has a wide range of safe, outdoor volunteer activities, ranging from conducting tours to helping maintain green areas and facilities. Find state parks near you and contact them for volunteer information or reach out to your county or municipal government and see if there are opportunities to donate time to a park in your town.
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