Each year, I look forward to the month of April. Wildflowers burst with beauty along hillsides and trails. Poppies pop throughout the neighborhoods where fellow wildflower lovers have tossed seeds out into alleys and their front yards year after year. Longer days give way to more outside time after work to fit in longer walks or make a quick drive out to a park for a sunset adventure.
April also brings me hope. With organizations and agencies across the state championing volunteer events, festivals and Earth Day commitments, there is a buzzing collective energy towards sustaining and protecting the places and species we love. If you’re looking for ways to add to this energy and support for the places you love, I wanted share a few volunteer resources to consider!
Connect with California’s Climate Action Corps:
As part of a larger #CaliforniansForAll initiative, California Volunteers created the first statewide volunteer hub through VolunteerMatch to help connect people with community climate action projects across the state that need support. Check out both yearlong and an upcoming Earth Day activities here. If you work for a group that needs volunteers, you also post opportunities to help recruit volunteers for climate-related causes.
Volunteer Opportunities in California State Parks:
Looking to volunteer in your local California State Parks? Check out California State Parks Foundation’s Earth Day Climate Action to participate in a statewide cleanup of state parks and open spaces. You can also find volunteer events throughout the month posted here.
Volunteer as a Community Scientist through iNaturalist – all you need is a camera!
Before I go out to a park, travel to a new place in California, or go for a hike, I’ll often open up a free app called iNaturalist, look up the location that I am visiting, and explore a map to see what types of plants and wildlife others have observed in the area. It’s an easy way to get a glimpse of the rich and wonderful biodiversity that we have in this state and to learn more about the critters or plants that I may encounter during my visit.
Using just a camera, you can turn a visit to your local park or even a walk around your neighborhood into a volunteer activity and provide important contributions to the scientific community! If you spot wildlife or plant communities, capture a photo, and submit to iNaturalist. These observations create useful data for scientists and park managers who are tracking trends and patterns of various species. The app also connects you to a community of scientists and naturalists who will help identify the plant or animal that you’ve spotted.
Interested in learning more? Check out iNaturalist, download the app, and start exploring!