This year in honor of Earth Day, we’re re-vamping our Spring Volunteering Guide. The weather’s gorgeous and now’s as good a time as any to spend some time outdoors and give back to the community. There are so many opportunities to give back surrounding Earth Day, but we’ll also highlight some awesome environmental organizations that need help not just with cleaning up river banks this week, but with advocacy work throughout the year as well.
They’re hosting a number of Earth Day events, ranging from planting trees to the Sustainable DC Launch Party. Oh yeah, and they’re organizing volunteers for the March for Science, so get on it!
Volunteer organization So What Else is hosting an environmental service fair in Gaithersburg on April 19. It’s focused on teaching kids about opportunities for environmental engagement in their communities, and how they can give back this year on Earth Day.
The Gardens are taking volunteers for their Earth Day Volunteer event April 22. You can help them pull invasive species, plant native ones, and then enjoy free music, food, and speakers.
They’re hosting a number of different cleanup events across the area, you can reach out to them for more details on how to volunteer, or volunteer with groups like the Rock Creek Conservancy — their next cleanup is at the National Zoo on April 21.
Looking for something a little less hands-on but with a potentially greater, long-term outcome? Consider volunteering with this organization. They meet, they organize, and they lobby on the Hill for climate justice.
Join the crew on April 23 for an Earth Day education at the Smithsonian. There will be plenty of family-friendly activities including MYO native seed balls and arts and crafts with recycled toilet paper tubes.
Too busy in April? The DC Green Festival isn’t until May 13-14, so put this one on your calendar. The festival is unique for this list in that it is not community-focused per se, it’s just an opportunity to partake in the city’s biggest event focusing on sustainability and green living, so even if you don’t plan on volunteering you should still check it out! Volunteers must register for this event, so get on it!
Lots of options to be outside and help keep the Chesapeake Bay in tip-top condition. You have to travel beyond the metro region to participate, but oyster gardening just sounds too good to pass up.
ALL the events! Tree planting, your usual roadside trash collection, and for those ambitious ones, the “Extreme” Clean-up… did you know Rock Creek is 33 miles long? Ohhh yeah. And all those miles need a good cleaning.
The Potomac! Rock Creek! The Anacostia! So many bodies of water, so little time. AWS even has an Earth Day celebration on the 22nd, so you can clean in the morning, and then celebrate all your hard work in the afternoon!
Optoro is hosting a “swap shop” on Earth Day – if you’re game to give back but also cool with taking a little too, head on over to the Wunder Garten for food, drink, live music, and the opportunity to trade some of your clothes or gear you’re looking to offload.
Planting trees! Free tees! (*I do not know if free t-shirts is actually a thing. But check out those tees on their volunteer page, yes please!) Volunteer opportunities include planting galore and the chance to be a “Tree Advocate”, because deep down we all want to be the Lorax.
Enough about the Potomac already. Unless, of course, you really can’t get enough of it. And then feel free to join the PC for one of their national days of service. (“Go Nuts for Clean Water Day”, anyone?) And for those who are able to dedicate a little more time, volunteer canal stewards are needed on a monthly basis for cleanups along the canal.
If the way you give back is through donating lots and lots of money, consider attending Earth Day Network’s annual gala. Tickets range from $250 to $10,000, so get out the checkbook!
Kids to Parks Day
On May 20 the National Parks Service is encouraging kids across the country to go out to a park and play. Since you’re an adult reading this and not a kid, you’re encouraged to take a kid to a park and play. The Parks service has a bunch of resources, like activity guides and adventure books to make your outing more fun. There are no events in DC proper, but if you search for events in Virginia and Maryland, there are plenty to choose from.
On Friday, April 21, join USG employees and volunteers, as well as representatives from a number of local environmental organizations for demonstrations, educational talks, and kid-friendly hands-on activities at the Botanic Gardens.
This farm has plenty of opportunities to get involved and the best part? They’re right by Howard, so in the city and easy to get to. Farm drop-in hours are probably a volunteer’s best bet, but if you want to get more involved you can get a CSA membership or join one of their other programs.
If you live in Arlington, check out the county’s website for a list of fun opportunities to volunteer and learn more about the environment. While most events are concentrated within the next month, they also have a number of resources and ways to live more sustainably year-round.
If you’re looking for a more involved opportunity, the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History has an exhibit called, “Narwhal: Revealing an Arctic legend” that needs volunteers beginning in August. The exhibit will cover everything from Inuit culture to oceanography and the impact of climate change on the Arctic, so an interest in these topics would make you a perfect fit. You’ll also need to be able to commit 8 hours per month. The opportunity will be posted here beginning May 1, but if you have questions before then you can email Ellen Spooner at [email protected].
Lastly, in honor of Earth Day, the Catalogue for Philanthropy highlights a number of environment-focused organizations that are looking for volunteers year-round, so if you want to be involved with an organization on a more permanent basis or even just for events outside of Earth Day, check out this list of local groups doing awesome things in the green space.
All right kiddies, that wraps up the spring greening volunteer opportunities, but this is by no means an exhaustive list, so please add any opportunities we missed in the comments section below! And stay tuned for the summer edition, when focus will be on opportunities with proximity to rooftop bars, happy hour joints and the like.