Posts Tagged ‘environmental volunteer’

National Parks are Free on Sunday (and You can Volunteer, too)

gert-boers-qQC8tyG_JVA-unsplashWhatcha doin’ this weekend? If it’s your last weekend before school, or your kids already have a couple weeks of Academia under their belts, or kids have nothing to do with it, getting outside is always a good option.

Sunday, August 25, is the 103rdbirthday of the National Park Service, and to celebrate, admission to all National Parks is free.

What an idyllic time to explore and enjoy our countrywide system of great green and urban spaces …and maybe give back a little while you’re at it.

I tend to forget, in my hurried day-to-day life, that the wondrous wild places I so fondly remember visiting (and look forward to many more visits) on family vacations and cross-country drives, are more than just stunning vacation spots–they are smoothly-run enterprises of commitment to community, culture, and the environment…AND…they have extensive volunteer programs.

As a National Parks volunteer, you can pop in for a one-shot deal to help with a program, or if you’re lucky enough to live near such sacred spots, there are ongoing opportunities. Kids, families, individuals…all will find rewarding service work in the parks.


If you’re super motivated, and volunteer 250 hours of service to the parks and/or other federal agencies that participate, you can be eligible for the Annual Volunteer Pass. This pass is your cost-free ticket to more than 2,000 federal recreation sites. Each pass covers entrance fees at national parks and national wildlife refuges as well as standard amenity fees at national forests and grasslands, and at lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management and Bureau of Reclamation.

To find your V.I.P. (Volunteers in Parks) opportunity, from Yellowstone to the Statue of Liberty, the Everglades to Mount Rainier, you can search by park, state, or zip code. Many of the needs are seasonal, but some are year-round, and while a certain level of fitness or endurance may be required for some gigs, there is plenty to volunteer for that requires less energy as well. Visit the Park Service website and look around a bit, get re-inspired for some next visit plans, and find a way to be one of the boots on the ground folks who keep the parks the treasures that they are.

Don’t miss out take a picnic lunch at the Grand Canyon or search family names at Ellis Island. There are more national parks than states in the country of ours – find one near you or near where your next travel plans will lead. (Find Your Park link)


Later this year, there are a couple more free days at the parks, September 28 and November 11. Make them all red-letter dates in your calendar.

National Public Lands Day—September 28

313768_6690Tomorrow, Saturday September 28, is National Public Lands Day and a chance for you to roll up your sleeves and get dirty for the greater good. More than 2,000 projects across the country are pledged to participate, so you can bet you won’t have to look too hard to find a volunteer opportunity near you. This is the 20th anniversary of what has become the single largest volunteer effort for public lands. In the U.S., public lands account for more than 600 million acres, and last year, over 175,000 volunteers did the following:

  • Collected an estimated 23,000 pounds of invasive plants
  • Built and maintained an estimated 1,500 miles of trails
  • Planted an estimated 100,000 trees, shrubs, and other native plants
  • Removed an estimated 500 tons of trash from trails and other places
  • Contributed an estimated $18 million through volunteer services to improve public lands across the country

It’s a celebration, it’s a good ol’ hearty work day, it’s great fun to do with your family or a group of friends, and it’s a great educational experience for young and not-as-young. We are all, whether we act this way responsibly or not, stewards of the land, and as the oft-repeated Native American proverb says:

“Treat the earth well: it was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children. We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.”

Use the event finder on the website to know where to show up tomorrow, work gloves in tow.

Happy Birthday Ansel Adams

AdamsYosemiteMercedToday is the birthday of ground-breaking nature photographer, Ansel Adams. To celebrate, consider finding out more about this artist/activist, and the environmental organization he loved the most, The Sierra Club. Adams is perhaps best known for his revelatory black and white studies of the majesty of Yosemite National Park. Nobody captures shadow and light like he did, and his photos have become the iconic gold standard for nature imagery.

Adams first connected with The Sierra Club in 1919, and later would serve on the organization’s board of directors for 37 years. It is America’s largest and most influential grassroots organization, and you want to be a part of their actions and activities. There are social activities and outdoor adventures for all ages and abilities, and definitely some in your area (check out your local Sierra Club activities here). In addition, the advocacy work of the organization on behalf of the environment has historically made great change in the way our nation uses and protects wild lands. Alternative energies, youth environmental education, protecting America’s waters, habitat conservation, environmental law, global population, flora and fauna protection, climate change, responsible sporting and fishing, all of it is addressed by one or more of their huge array of projects and goals. Sign up for news alerts and updates to be involved and a champion for ecology. TAKE ACTION and take responsibility for Mother Earth–she’s nice enough to let you stay here, after all we’ve done to piss her off.