Arts & Culture

Best Outdoor Summer Volunteer Opportunities

June 9, 2014 8:00 AM

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Photo Credit Thinkstock

The benefits of volunteering are innumerable. Not only does volunteering give you the chance to help others in your community, but it’s also good for your physical and emotional health, particularly if you are enjoying the volunteer work. If you love being outdoors and giving your time to make your city a better place to live, make a difference with these five causes and volunteer opportunities.

Walking Trails and Nature Centers

Photo Credit Thinkstock

Photo Credit Thinkstock


Spend some time in the great outdoors while maintaining paths and restoring wildlife habitats. Organizations like REI are always looking for volunteers who want to spend time in the great wide open while helping maintain the natural beauty of a place. Through VolunteerMatch they can match you with an outdoor cause, like maintaining local trails or cleaning up beaches, because they work with more than 90,000 nonprofit organizations, including nature centers.

Community Gardens

Photo Credit Thinkstock

Photo Credit Thinkstock


If you live in a big city and far from the woods, mountains and beaches, you can still get outside and make your neighborhood better. A green thumb is helpful at these local gardens, but not required. While your volunteering services are most helpful at a community garden during the fall, when the most work—like composting and planting—needs to be done, the fruits and veggies do need to be harvested and the gardens maintained during the warmer months, too.

In addition to community gardens, also contact your local parks and botanic gardens, as they often look for volunteers to help with everything from maintenance to guest services as well.

Zoos

Photo Credit Thinkstock

Photo Credit Thinkstock


Whether a zoo offers free admission to visitors or not, your local zoos could be looking for volunteers to help out. Many zoos do require some on-site training before you get started but, more likely than not, you won’t be working directly with the animals. Rather, you may assist some of the animal care staff, educate visitors at the zoo, assist at special events, and last but not least, help maintain and care for the grounds, including the gardens.

Roadside Cleanup

Photo Credit Thinkstock

Photo Credit Thinkstock


Ever notice those Adopt-a-Highway signs along the road? Those are just one way you can get outside and get the roads cleaned up. They’re also not just about litter control, but often also about maintaining vegetation so that shrubs and trees, for example, don’t block any signs. Some states also organize big cleanup events. To get started with roadside cleanup, contact your state’s department of transportation.

Habitat for Humanity

Photo Credit cott Legato/Getty Images

Photo Credit cott Legato/Getty Images


Habitat builds homes around the world, meaning cities around the world offer volunteer opportunities. On Habitat’s website, simply search your area and then contact your local office to see how your services can be best utilized. In addition to building homes, Habitat often needs help weatherizing homes as well as maintaining them, too. They also offer both short-term and long-term volunteer opportunities, some of which include travel.

Everyone wins when you enjoy volunteering, so be sure to pick a summer outdoor volunteer activity that excites you.

Elizabeth SanFilippo is a freelance writer, who enjoys trying new foods from all over the world. But her favorite city for culinary treats will always be Chicago. When not writing about food, she’s scribbling novels, and TV show reviews and recaps. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.


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