Environmental Volunteering: Its Impact on Community Wellness
Published March 24, 2022
An old saying goes, "Many hands make light work." As communities grapple with resurgent wildfires, pollution, deforestation, and many other critical environmental issues, you might ask yourself, can one person make a difference? Absolutely!
When individuals partner with their communities, friends and families, or join volunteer environmental projects, every hand is a helping hand. In this article, we'll talk about what environmental volunteering is, how you can get involved, and the many ways Flipgrid can be used to enhance these experiences.
What is Environmental Volunteering?
Because there are so many ways to help the environment through volunteering, there's no one definition. At its core, it's the act of committing—for a day or a lifetime—time and energy that benefits the environment, whether directly or indirectly. That can mean boots-on-the-ground involvement, educating others, or advocating for policy change.
How Can Flipgrid Enhance Volunteering Events?
On Flipgrid, you can create groups where volunteers can connect, plan, and share experiences through short videos created with the Flipgrid camera—think of it as a video pinboard. You can also use our augmented reality (AR) tool to make your volunteer experience more interactive with educational videos that can be viewed on mobile devices. Check out the list of ideas below for inspiration for your next volunteering event.
Environmental Volunteer Opportunities
You can volunteer anywhere around the world, from bustling urban centers to remote corners of the Earth. If you want to stay local, connect with a regional environmental organization, like the Puget Soundkeeper Alliance in Seattle. They help provide safe recreational activities like swimming and fishing for community members. They also maintain a healthy ecosystem for wildlife like salmon and orca, and for local businesses and indigenous peoples who rely on Puget Sound for their wellbeing.
Municipal events can build community around a common goal by beautifying a park or planting trees, for example. They can also improve environmental literacy, which can inform people's daily habits and help influence local policy decisions. Even the simplest of events, like a spring clean-up, can lead to a decades-long commitment by a community to keep their city beautiful.
"Environmental volunteering is a way to have a hands-on experience conserving or restoring natural environments that otherwise would be destroyed due to human impact."
Angel Valerio, STEM Education Program Manager, KQED
Flipgrid Discovery Library Partner
So, what do environmental volunteers do? Volunteering can be as simple as gathering a group of friends to pick up litter in your city or connecting with your local Parks Department to work on their planned projects. Environmental volunteers can also have ongoing responsibilities to educate community members of all ages or have dedicated positions with regional, state-wide, or federal agencies. DoSomething.org, a not-for-profit organization that provides young people opportunities to create social change, put together a great list of things you can do for the planet:
Protect Public Lands
Grow a Community Garden
Help Out Wildlife
Join a Movement
Here are some national and international organizations that specialize in coordinating environmental volunteering.
- Sierra Club With chapters across the U.S., you'll find opportunities to volunteer and advocate for the environment.
- Keep America Beautiful Born from a community gathering in the late 1950s, there are now over 60 affiliate chapters across the U.S. that work to keep their communities beautiful, one piece of litter at a time.
- Volunteer FDIP With volunteer opportunities across the globe, you're sure to find an adventure to quench the travel bug in you and help a local program make a positive environmental impact. Here's their list of volunteer opportunities for 2022.
- Volunteer Latin America Many Latin-American countries' environmental situations are adversely affected by economic circumstances and lack of governmental support. Agencies like this one work to make a difference.
- Greenpeace If you want to use your voice and environmental activism to their fullest, there's no better place to start than with Greenpeace.
Environmental Community Service Projects
Most cities and counties across the country need help with local initiatives. Between the lack of government funding and the amount of work that has to happen, community service volunteers play a critical role in the efficacy of local environmental programs.
The best part? You don't have to be an expert in any field to volunteer. Knowledgeable people will be there to guide you through the experience. Think of it as social learning: you learn from others by asking questions, and as you gain more experience, you pay it forward by sharing what you know down the line.
Before you commit to a volunteer position, particularly if it’s with an organization, there are some things to consider. For example, many community initiatives rely on continued participation by volunteers. If you’re looking for a one-time experience, that might not be the role for you. Volunteer projects may also happen outside, year-round, meaning you could be working in the elements, which may or may not be appealing. Talk to the volunteer coordinator to understand what to expect and what will be expected of you to help make your decision.
Keep in mind some volunteer positions are roles relied upon by a given agency. Even though volunteers don't get paid for their time, the position you take can be just as important as a paid one. The best advice: Ask a lot of questions to make sure an opportunity is a right fit for you.
"The natural environment benefits greatly from the work of volunteers in environmental stewardship programs."
Not sure where to start your volunteering journey? Volunteer opportunities are available year-round, but Earth Day is a great place to begin.
Earth Day Activities Improve Environmental Literacy
Every April since 1970, Earth Day has been celebrated by communities and school kids worldwide. Through activities like learning about the effects of environmental change, exploring and understanding local ecosystems, or analyzing your family's impact on the environment, people improve their environmental literacy, which means increasing your knowledge and skills so that your actions reduce or prevent harm to the environment.
We encourage you—all of our readers—to get involved on Earth Day and every day! Check out how you can use Flipgrid—our free video discussion app—to level up Earth Day activities with your families and communities.
Wait! Before you start, sign up for a free Flipgrid account.
- Create an Event Hub. Share a video message about your Earth Day event, invite friends to submit video comments, then post their event-day video memories to share with the group.
- Use a QR Code for an Interactive Experience. Hosting a tree planting? Guiding an educational walking tour? Use Flipgrid's augmented reality (AR) tool to give instructions, identify local flora and fauna, even the history of where you are. Simply record videos about the subjects with the Flipgrid camera, print out the associated QR codes, then post them around the event or along the path for guests to scan and watch on their mobile devices.
- More ways to use Flipgrid and its AR feature:
- Create a group for asynchronous* communication between volunteers and volunteer coordinators or program coordinators. (*Remember that video pinboard from above?)
- Shortform video explaining the project and expected outcomes
- Show and explain items/tools to bring (or tools that'll be used) on a project: axes, grub hoes, rakes, shovels, pruning shears, dirtbags, etc.
- Storytelling or documenting an experience
- Recruit volunteers by sharing on social media, on personal blogs, via email, or wherever you share links
OK. Now What?
The first thing to remember is you can make a difference. After that, it's all about identifying what environmental issues you care about and how you want to volunteer your time. The best thing about volunteering and Earth Day activities is they can and should happen year-round.
We hope we've inspired you to get involved and provided ideas and resources to help you take the next step to helping protect our environment.
We have a saying around here, "If you can think it, you can Flipgrid it." To learn more about how Flipgrid works and the myriad ways it can enhance your life and learning, follow us on social media and read our blog for fun and inspiring ideas.