If you don’t yet have plans to celebrate Earth Day this weekend (Sunday, April 22), then keep reading. Author of nine books, including “Vitamin N: The Essential Guide to a Nature-Rich Life” (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2016), and co-founder of the Children & Nature Network Richard Louv gave 24Life an amazing list of earth-friendly activities you can do with the whole family.
Start or join a nature club
This a simple way to create or find a community of support. You can join an already existing family nature club, or start your own and invite friends and other families to join you. Download this free toolkit from the Children & Nature Network to get your club started.
Plant a garden
No matter your child’s age, they can learn to be self-sufficient by growing food for the family. If you have extra produce, sell it at your community farmers’ market, share it with the neighbors or donate it to a food bank.
Unsure if you have the space for a garden? If you live in an urban neighborhood, create a high-rise garden. A landing, deck, terrace, or flat roof typically can accommodate several large pots, and even trees can thrive in containers if given proper care.
Volunteer at local nature centers, nature preserves and parks
Do some research on the local nature centers near your home, as some train young citizen naturalists or offer junior ranger programs for teens, teaching them outdoor leadership, mountaineering, rescue skills and wilderness survival skills. Alternatively, look into volunteer opportunities at a botanical garden or local park.
Be a science scout
Your kids and teens can help scientists track everything from meteors to mountain lions,to blue catfish—even sharks. Websites like SciStarter and California Academy of Science list opportunities to help scientists understand the natural world, including activities you can do in your own neighborhood or backyard.
Do water testing and other types of watershed monitoring
Many government agencies and other organizations have local monitoring projects in which school classes can become involved. For example, the Missouri Stream Team provides training for citizens so that they can effectively monitor streams and solve stream problems in their area. Participation in the program gives students opportunities to observe seasonal changes affecting the macroinvertebrates (organisms large enough to be seen with the naked eye and lacking a backbone) in streams.
Adopt and nurture a piece of the earth
Choose a natural area in your neighborhood or city and become its caretaker by picking up litter, planting trees and shrubs, hanging bird feeders or watering plants. You may be amazed at how much your relationship to the natural world changes when you have stewardship over even a small part of it.
Help restore a habitat
Get involved in an organization that restores damaged habitats and monitors rare and endangered species. You can find ways to get involved through natural history museums, state and national parks and wildlife protection groups, like The Tucson Succulent Society and the Wild Ones, or “embrace a stream” through Trout Unlimited.
Photo credit: Benjamin Combs, Unsplash