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6 Volunteering Ideas to Protect the Planet
What you can do for the planet right now.
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Updated: April 2024

From young climate activists in Montana winning a landmark lawsuit against the state for using fossil fuels, to the many other young people who are leading the charge to protect our planet, young people are making waves to protect our planet. And there are tons of ways that you can join this growing movement of environmental action in your own backyard. Here are six ways to start.

1. Plant Trees

If we learned anything from the Lorax, it’s the importance of speaking up for the trees. We owe them as much, considering all the environmental benefits that we get from these leafy giants. They offset carbon emissions, decrease soil erosion, and provide food and habitat for wildlife, just to name a few. So get down and dirty to plant and maintain trees in your area -- The Arbor Day Foundation can help you get started.

2. Protect Public Lands

We’re not sure if you know this, but the National Parks in the US are absolutely stunning -- just look at them! From canyons to mountain peaks, these parks are home to buffalo, mountain goats, foxes, bears, and even (occasionally) us. You can check out the volunteer portal for opportunities with the National Park Service year-round, and over the summer, consider joining the Youth Conservation Corps.

3. Host a Cleanup

You don’t have to gather a team and tackle a huge area to have a successful cleanup (though it’s cool if you do!). It can be as easy as picking up litter around your neighborhood with a few friends. When you pick up trash, you remove physical hazards for wildlife, decrease the pollution of groundwater, and protect habitat structure. And you can do it anywhere -- including rivers and beaches.

4. Grow a Community Garden

Calling all green thumbs! Community gardens are shared places where folks can get together to plant all sorts of things, including fruits, veggies, and herbs. Not only do they build bonds among neighbors, they also absorb carbon, support pollinator habitats, and reduce the shipping of food over long distances. Volunteer at a community garden near you, or start your own!

5. Help Out Wildlife

This one’s for anyone who cries a little bit whenever they see videos of cute animals on their social feed (it can’t just be us). Volunteer to help out wildlife rescue and rehabilitation programs doing animal care or administrative work. Bird rehab is a pretty common type of rescue program, like International Bird Rescue in California or Wild Bird Fund in New York. Find a wildlife rehabilitator near you.

6. Join a Movement

If you want to make an impact on a larger scale, volunteer through organizations focused on collective action. The Sierra Club and 350.org are great places to start if you want to advocate for conservation and climate action. The Defenders of Wildlife will help you sign petitions and contact your reps about protecting animals. You can also join millions of young people volunteering through DoSomething.org, with campaigns that focus on the environment and beyond.

Environmental Volunteering Opportunities

Find Strength Through Service and take action to make your community cleaner and greener.

You can earn verified volunteer credits along the way!

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Make a difference in your community and add your vision to the future of our democracy