This land is your land; this land is my land—that's exactly what Robb Hampton, the Director of the Public Lands Program at The National Environmental Education Foundation, wants people to understand. When you volunteer at local, state or national parks, you do more than just lend a helping hand.
When you volunteer, you connect with your local parks, invest in them, and hopefully share the experience with friends and loved ones who will want to help, as well.
"Volunteerism, recreation and education; that's the key to get people connected to the lands," Hampton says.
Here's how just one day of volunteering helps the parks and how you can get in on the fun, too.
What Volunteering Means to the Parks
The Public Lands Program and Hampton have a calculation for determining the impact volunteers have on the park. On the 2012 National Public Lands Day, their 20th anniversary, they estimated that volunteer help equated to nearly $18 million in labor; and that's just one day of the year.
According to PublicLandsDay.org, volunteers:
- Collected nearly 23,000 pounds of invasive plants.
- Removed nearly 500 tons of trash.
- Built and maintained approximately 1,500 miles of trails.
- Planted an estimated 100,000 trees, shrubs and other native plants.
Though this was the product of more than 175,000 volunteers, it only takes a few dedicated people to make a difference. With 2,200 sites nationwide—this includes national parks, state parks, forest service lands and Bureau of Land Management lands—and volunteer opportunities available nearly 365 days a year, it's easy to find a time and a place to reconnect. Here's how.