By Joe Coleman, Contributing Blogger
If you love the outdoors, you understand how important it is to take care of them. If you practice Leave no Trace, you know when burn bans are in effect, you prepare before heading out into the wilderness.
If you’re looking to do even more, Earth Day is a popular volunteer opportunity for nature lovers of all stripes. If you want to give back but aren’t sure where to start, here’s a list of great organizations you can volunteer for on Earth Day!
Whether you’re traveling on Earth Day, don’t have any opportunities near you, or just want to work with a larger organization, these national conservation agencies have something for you!
You might not be aware of this, but you can go straight to the source here! By visiting Earth Day’s website, you’ll be able to get information about local cleanups, get helpful environmental education content, and involve your organization in Earth Day action.
The Trust for Public Land
While you won’t be doing any trail maintenance, this is an excellent way for adventurers with business acumen to give back. The Trust for Public Land (TPL) is a non-profit that works to "create parks and protect land for people, ensuring healthy, livable communities for generations to come.” You’d be a great TPL volunteer if you have any sort of business, writing, or marketing skills.
Outdoor Alliance works to “bring together the voices of America’s outdoor recreation community to protect the outdoor experience for everyone to enjoy. Outdoor Alliance is more advocacy-based, so you’ll fit right in if you have knowledge or interest in that realm. While they have volunteer opportunities from time to time, your best bet is to get on their email list to hear about what’s going on near you!
National Park Foundation
If you love the National Park Service, you’ll appreciate volunteering with the National Park Foundation. In partnership with NPS, you can get connected with parks near you to volunteer at. You’ll find online resources, data, and volunteer opportunities on their website. If you’re looking to support a conservation non-profit financially, you’ll find steps you can take to donate as well.
The Nature Conservancy
No matter where you are in the world this Earth Day, there’s a good chance there’s a Nature Conservancy volunteer opportunity near you. This global nonprofit has existed for more than 70 years and is currently in 76 countries and territories. On their website, you can find volunteer opportunities, learn how to reduce your carbon footprint, and commit to sustainable lifestyle changes to better the planet. If you’re looking to just be out in nature, visit one of the many protected lands in their network!
National Wildlife Federation
The National Wildlife Federation is one of the foremost conservation agencies in the United States. Started just a few years after the Great Depression, the NWF is now over 80 years old!
If you’re looking to get your hands dirty, you’ve come to the right place. Among other things, the NWF is looking for gardening and maintenance help and community members looking to be trained in conservation practices. If you want to make a digital impact with the National Wildlife Federation, sign up for updates and serve as a brand ambassador!
If you want to stay close to home but don’t know where to look, here are a few options you can consider.
Trail associations or trail maintenance groups are a great local volunteer opportunity. If you have a nearby national or state park, check their website for trail maintenance opportunities. Sometimes local groups organize Facebook or other social media groups for this purpose as well.
Trail maintenance can be challenging work, but it’s gratifying to keep your local trails accessible and pristine if you're up for it. While long thru-hike trails are often noted for their trail maintenance organizations, smaller parks and trails need all the help they can get.
Local Environmental Group
Local environmental groups are a good catch-all if you want to volunteer but aren’t looking to get on the trail. You can find options near you that fit your passions and skillset. Whether you want to work with animals, in nurseries, on the river, or anything in between, there’s likely a local group for what you’re looking for. If you don’t know of anything off the top of your head, try an environmental group search to see what’s around. If you don’t see anything to your liking, why not make one this year?