Here's How to Volunteer in Dallas for Earth Day

Sorry, Kermit. It’s actually quite easy being green.

Trinity River Conservancy
Courtesy of Trinity River Conservancy

Stop reading this right now and step outside—it’s OK, you can bring us with you. Now take a long, deep breath. Exhale slowly and look around at the blossoming trees. Listen to the birds singing harmonious medlies of their greatest hits. Be the cliché you’ve always wanted to be and literally hug a tree. And if you’re so inclined to take this journey of the five senses to its logical conclusion, kneel down and taste a handful of dirt. Crunchy, isn’t it?

On April 22, after 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 46 seconds revolving around the sun (give or take), Earth Day returns and we figure it’s the ideal time to highlight all the ways we can make Mama Nature proud. If you’re concerned about the impact of climate change, the sustainability of natural resources, and preserving the environment for future generations (or even for your own enjoyment a few years down the road), volunteering can be one of the best ways to be an active part of the solution.  

A quick search through the Communities Foundation of Texas database yields 125 different nonprofits under the “preservation and conservation” category alone, each in need of your time, brainpower, and monetary donations to further their missions. Of course, we’re not going to leave you completely adrift in the sea of volunteering opportunities. Below, discover some fantastic ways to spread the planetary love this Earth Day and beyond. 

EarthX
Courtesy of EarthX

Get your hands dirty

The most satisfying way to feel like you’re making a difference will always be through hands-on work and a little old-fashioned sweat. EarthX, founded right here in Dallas, works as a member of IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) to combine the resources and efforts of more than 1,300 organizations around the globe. You’ll always find volunteer events on their web site, whether that means overseeing arts and crafts stations at the Dallas Arboretum, getting out in a canoe and collecting debris from the water near Frasier Dam, or removing branches and debris from hiking trails every Saturday in partnership with Groundwork Dallas, a nonprofit continuously working to keep North Texas beautiful. Get this—EarthX volunteers have removed more than 130,000 pounds of trash in the past two years alone. 

Help maintain one of Dallas’ most popular environmental gems, White Rock Lake, by volunteering with For the Love of the Lake every second Saturday of the month for spruce-up initiatives along the shore and in the lake (bring your own canoe or kayak or use one of the nine vessels owned by FTLOTL as part of their Padillac program). You can even team up with a group from work, church, or another organization to ensure a slice of the beach stays beautiful all year with Adopt-A-Shoreline.

You can also pick up trash in Grapevine as part of a Don’t Mess with Texas Trash-Off, help restore wildlife habitats with the Trinity River Audubon Center, or spend some time maintaining pathways with Friends of Santa Fe Trail, which always needs volunteers to help plant trees and wildflowers. And over at the Trinity Park Conservancy, you can sign up for monthly volunteer events to keep the Trinity River clean and help remove invasive plants. 

Educate yourself 

Knowing the who, what, when, where, why, and how behind the urgency of environmental issues not only helps further your own education on the subject, it allows you to speak knowledgeably to others who may not think climate change affects them directly. This time of year, you can participate in several ongoing and one-time virtual sessions guaranteed to transform you into the savviest, most eco-conscious person in your entire friend group. 

Train to become a citizen scientist with the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment’s Texas Stream Team. As part of their year-round calendar of events, you can join an online discussion with Dr. Gerald R. North to discuss his book, The Rise of Climate Science, and learn more about his groundbreaking research. The fourth annual North Texas Climate Change Symposium has also gone online this year while Texas A&M University Central Texas gears up to present an in-depth, two-day conference with free admission for TAMUC students ($50 for everyone else).

Gardeners in Community Development
Courtesy of Gardeners in Community Development

Open up your Venmo

Even when we’re not facing down a global pandemic, nonprofit organizations can always use donations to further their efforts in the most efficient and fiscally responsible ways possible. If you don’t have time to volunteer in person, you can still make a major impact through even the smallest donations. Every organization in this story would certainly appreciate some extra cash—but those who have paused in-person volunteering in the name of public safety could really use the money. 

Among the many organizations to which you can contribute, John Bunker Sands Wetland Center in Seagoville, Friends of Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge and its herd of bison, and Friends of Southwest Nature Preserve in Arlington are all worthy causes. You can also join the Dallas Sierra Club and the Sierra Club Lone Star Chapter Greater Fort Worth Group or help support the urban agriculture movement with Gardeners in Community Development.

Work with lawmakers

Grassroots movements can have a dramatic impact on improving environmental issues, but few things have a more lasting impact than getting laws on the books that can improve the state of the planet—and the footprint left by United States citizens specifically—for future decades. The Citizens Climate Lobby has an active Dallas chapter equipped with all the tools necessary to contact members of Congress and make your voice heard. 

Texas Land Conservancy
Courtesy of Texas Land Conservancy

Share your stories

No matter what ecological endeavors you choose to do in support of Earth Day and beyond, posting to social media helps inspire others, whether it’s simple things you’ve chosen to do on your own or as part of a larger organization. Of course, caring isn’t just sharing, but some organizations do actively seek out people to help with various social channels. Photographers, videographers, and social media ambassadors are always in demand at Texas Land Conservancy, and over at EarthX, volunteers are encouraged to host virtual trash bashes and post the results online. 

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Steven Lindsey is a Thrillist contributor.