As we’re all emerging from our winter cocoon to actual warm weather, our lovely Earth could use some TLC. What better time than the spring we’ve all been waiting for to get your hands dirty and do some good in the process. I saw your Earth Day dedicated Instagram post, I know you care. So get out in the nice weather (if your allergies aren’t too bad) and help some local organizations!
The Anacostia River can always use a good clean up and volunteers are critical to the watershed’s survival. You’ll take part in projects like planting native plants and collecting seeds along with general clean up activities. Volunteer by yourself or with a group to help restore those wetlands! On May 5 there will be a Meadow Restoration Workday at the Old Port of Bladensburg where they’ll be removing invasive species.
If you want to put your money where your mouth is without getting dirty, consider attending Earth Day Network’s annual gala on May 8. Tickets range from $250 to $10,000, so that means you’ll definitely be contributing a lot of goodness to the world.
Arlington County has got all the wide-ranging volunteer options for different types of environmentally focused events. Seriously, so many options. You can volunteer at their summer camp, work on their beautification committee, clean up streams, remove invasive plants, or help out at any of the events on their calendar. They’re constantly doing removals of invasive plants (RiP), with one coming up on May 5 in Haley Park.
Volunteer with Casey Trees and plant trees throughout D.C., or tend to the ones already planted. Apparently that doesn’t mean giving tree hugs but rather more pruning, weeding, and watering which is cool too. Do it yourself or bring a group and join in on plantings and care taking or even advocacy where you can help communicate with legislators. They have a calendar for events so just pick and choose when you’ll be free.
Another less dirty option but still contributing to longer-term good is the Citizens Climate Lobby. They’re a grassroots advocacy organization that focuses on climate change. Find your local chapter where you’ll meet up and organize on how to lobby for climate justice. They also accept donations. Use those political skills for something positive!
If you’re the type where even signing up for something is too much work/commitment, consider City Blossoms. They have open times where you can come and lend a hand and enjoy activities like art and cooking. They have a cool “you help, you harvest” policy which means you get to take home some garden goods at the end. Neat!
If you’ve got a passion for the Chesapeake Bay and it’s health, consider volunteering with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. They have five different locations (in Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania) where you can help out with tasks like oyster gardening, vegetable picking, and planting trees.
Get down and dirty right in the city at Common Good City Farm where you can expect to do all of the classic gardening tasks. They have tons of open farm days you can find on their calendar that you can participate in solo or with a group, or you can commit to a more regular role by checking out their city farmers program.
DC Greens is cool because not only are they a farm, but they have honey bee hives, chickens, herbs, and flowers. Some of those herbs and flowers go to local restaurants like The Dabney and Pineapple & Pearls. Their open volunteering hours are on Thursday evenings from 5-7. They have plenty of other ways to get involved in the D.C. food system, so lend a hand to food justice.
Hillwood Gardens isn’t just gardens, it’s a museum and estate as well. They offer different volunteer opportunities like family art volunteer, horticulture volunteer, and visitor service volunteer. You can volunteer on a fixed or floating schedule. The gig comes with some sweet benefits like discounts at the gift shop and cafe, and admission privileges for family/guests.
These aquatic gardens are severely underrated and can always use some love. Volunteer by pulling invasive species, planting new plants, picking up trash, and more. They have a Lily Festival in July to celebrate the lilies and lotuses they have on the grounds.
If you’re looking for a volunteer experience that’s long term and heavier in commitment (four hours a week), check out the National Arboretum’s expansive volunteer program. Some of their volunteers have been their for 15 years! Help out in spots like the gardens, laboratories, herbarium, and research fields. You can also schedule a one-day group volunteer opportunity and do stuff like mulching, weeding, and picking up litter.
Get to know a watershed by helping the Alice Ferguson Foundation work towards a Trash Free Potomac Network. Grab your gloves and rake and participate in cleanups like the one in Fairfax on May 12. You can find more opportunities throughout the year on their volunteer map.
Get this…you can volunteer outside OR inside with Rock Creek Conservancy. You can participate in clean up and removals of invasive species or join a Stream Team where you and your neighborhood can adopt a stretch of Rock Creek to monitor and protect. They have tons of opportunities to choose from so get on it.
Help make one of the most popular national institutions even more beautiful by volunteering at the Smithsonian Gardens. Interact with visitors, help grow and maintain plants, and learn a whole lot in the process. They’re accepting applications now for spring to do things like pulling weeds and general garden work.
You can be a volunteer at any time by seeing what spots the United States Botanic Garden has open on their site. Grow and flourish in their community and be a Horticulture or Public Programs volunteer. If you have a background in horticulture, this is the volunteer opportunity for you.
So many different things to do when you volunteer at the National Cathedral. Work in Bishop’s Garden, Olmsted Woods, or even do data entry. Just fill out the form on their site and select which areas you’re interested in.
Get friendly with the dirt, educate some students, or volunteer with a group at the Washington Youth Garden. You need to attend an orientation but volunteer days are every Saturday and Tuesday through certain months.