Force of Human Nature: The Best Spring Volunteer Activities Outdoors Around NYC

volunteer this spring

Rachel Bogin is the founder of the blog Give and Get NYC, a handy, approachable resource for volunteer opportunities in New York City. Bogin “opens up the volunteer world to everyone, by taking away the mystery of volunteering and making it super easy to get involved whenever and wherever you want.”

Spring is here. It’s time to put those winter sweaters back into storage and dust off your flip flops. As the seasons change, so do the volunteer opportunities become available; there are gardens to be planted, parks to be prepped for the onslaught of visitors, and other outdoor projects that are most enjoyable in the cool sunshine of Spring. Below are some ideas for outdoor volunteer projects and activities around New York City in 2013 that you can sign up for right now.

Pick A Day, Any Day
Are you too busy for a big time commitment? Sign up for these one-day volunteer events:

  • ‘It’s My Park Day’ is a bi-annual event taking place this spring on May 4th. You don’t even have to register: just find a participating park and GO. Partnerships for Parks invites dedicated community groups to organize volunteer projects and free cultural events in their neighborhood parks, in the hopes that people will come out to help and learn more about year-round opportunities. There will be over 150 community organizations and parks participating throughout the five boroughs.
  • Hands On New York Day: Join New York Cares and 5,000 other volunteers on April 20th to make our city’s parks and gardens cleaner, greener, and ready for summer.
  • Million Trees Planting Event: The city’s Million Trees Initiative has an ambitious goal: to plant and care for one million new trees across the City’s five boroughs over the next decade. Throughout this spring, you can help them reach that goal by joining them in one of five parks in Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island and volunteer to help plant trees in your community.

Runs Don’t Run Themselves
New York City plays host to a slew of fundraising 5K’s and walks, and all of them need volunteers to help ensure the day goes smoothly. You can help by handing out water along the route, checking in participants, cleaning up after the race, or even cheering! Here are some upcoming runs and contact info:

  • New York Road Runners: Find more races and opportunities here by signing up to volunteer at any NYRR race. All opportunities in 2013 will count as a volunteer credit toward the 9+1 Program for those who would like to receive a guaranteed entry to the 2013 ING New York City Marathon.
Going Green for the Season
There are many organizations that are dedicated to community gardening and environmental education all year long. Now that Spring has arrived, they’ll need help for the busy planting season. Check out these groups for on-going volunteer opportunities with varying commitment levels:
  • ioby (which stands for ‘in our backyards’) connects donors and volunteers to environmental projects in their neighborhoods to inspire earth awareness and action in New York City. Check out their sponsored projects, which are always in need of volunteers to plant veggies, build gardens and educate the public; email volunteer@ioby.org for more info or visit the website.
  • New York Cares is the all-encompassing, citywide mecca for volunteers. Just sign up online and attend a 45-minute orientation and you’ll be able to access their database of 1,000’s of projects that take place all over the city, from Pelham Bay Park to Gregory’s community garden in Brooklyn and almost everything in between. You can volunteer once, weekly, monthly; whatever you schedule, NY Cares has something for everyone.
  • Slow Food NYC is the New York City chapter of Slow Food, a non-profit, member-supported organization founded in 1989 to counteract fast food and fast life. From time to time, they need volunteers to staff events or to help with outreach programs. Contact them at volunteering@slowfoodnyc.org or check the calendar for upcoming workshops and events like the Just Food Conference. The Slow Food NYC Annual Party is on April 11, 6-9pm at the invisible dog.

For more environmentally-helpful volunteer projects, visit giveandgetnyc.org.

Photo: Daniel Avila

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