1. Pick up trash.
Picking up and properly disposing trash is a service anyone can do. Be sure everyone has gloves in case items are questionable. Places you can pick up trash include:
Spend some time picking up items in a specified area. Ask others to help you if the area is large.
Prepare a plan in case you find something that is not appropriate for your helpers. For example, we once found a knife on the playground while we were picking up trash. Our rule is if you see a sharp object (knifes, syringes, etc.), you do not touch it. You stand next to it and get an adult’s attention.
Also, if you see damaged items or areas, contact the person in charge of the area to let them know.
You might try this with your family, church, school or organization. Discuss ways this helps the environment. How can you get information out to people who don’t know about it?
3. Planting / weeding.
You can plant grass, flowers, shrubs and trees in many locations. Be sure to obtain permission beforehand. Identify locations where you might want to place one or a few plants.
4. Raking and shoveling.
These two tasks are difficult . . . especially for older people. Identify someone in your neighborhood who could use some help and volunteer to do it.
5. Community garden.
Community gardens not only bring nature into an area, but it provides food for local people and / or shelters. Do you have a community garden you can help with? If not, is there an area you might be able to use for this purpose?
6. Support the wild ones.
From bird feeders to salt blocks, during certain times of the year, wildlife needs help. Identify small ways you can help your local wildlife.
7. Zoos and shelters.
Helping at a shelter or zoo allows you to work with animals. Feeding, cleaning and even taking them for walks can be possible tasks. You may need to be a certain age to help with more difficult tasks. Check with these and see if they have opportunities for working with animals.
8. Wildlife habitats.
Create, fix or maintain a habitat for wildlife. This might be a butterfly garden, bat house, etc. You can make this a project for a group or school. Check out the National Wildlife Foundation for information on building schoolyard habitats.
9. Support parks.
Cleaning, spreading mulch, pulling invasive species — these are all things we’ve done at the Indiana Dunes. Visit your local parks / park department. Find out if they need individuals to help and if you have the skills they need. Plan a day to do a few jobs.
10. Fix a playground / park.
Visit a local playground / park. Make a list of items that need to be fixed. Obtain permission to do so and ask others so you can get the jobs done to make it safe.
Painting is an easy but time consuming task. Identify areas where some paint would help such as fences or benches. You can also cover graffiti if it is offensive. Offer to paint.
12. Start a campaign.
Bring awareness of one of these issues or one of your own to your community and ask others to join you:
- Carpooling / biking / walking
- Energy conservation
- Hazardous waste collection / disposal
- Recycling items / centers
- Water conservation
13. Specific programs.
Some organizations have specific programs and / or activities they might ask you to participate in. Check out one or more of the following:
- America Recycles Day
- Earth Day Network
- Great American Cleanup
- Habitat for Humanity
- World Water Monitoring Day
14. Talk to leaders.
If none of these interest you, talk to leaders in your area to determine needs that are not listed here. Bring them back to your group / organization. How can you volunteer to help?
Sites to Explore
To download a PDF of this badge program, click here: EP_Outdoor Service