Tag: earth month

10 Fun Ways to Celebrate Earth Month With Your Kids

Comments (11) April 5, 2013

It’s Earth Month, and we have some great ways to get kids involved! Earth Month is the perfect time to get kids into appreciating the natural world and taking care of their planet. Here are some ways to celebrate!

1. Take a hike, and clean up!

Get outside and get moving–hikes are an easy way to show kids the wonders of their own backyard and with spring here, you might get to take in blooming flowers and wildlife. Many local nonprofits hold programs in parks and natural areas. Local nonprofits are also responsible for stepping up and helping out state parks during budget cuts. Find a local environmental nonprofit near you.

If you live near a beach, river or lake, chances are, a local nonprofit needs your help for its next cleanup! Many organizations ramp up their cleanup efforts for April. Don’t live near water? You can still pitch in to clean up in your own backyard at your local park, school or playground!

2. Visit an Animal Rehab Center

Get access to some amazing wildlife while learning about how humans affect wild animals and their habitats near you. Visit a raptor center, like Cascades and witness eagles and owls up close. Live near the water? Find a marine mammal center, like the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, CA,  to see how trash can entangle sea creatures, and how to help.

3. Go to a Car Wash

What kid doesn’t love being inside the car as it goes through a car wash? Why is it good for the environment? Car washes recycle their water, so much less water is used than when you run your hose at home to wash. And while your working on the car, check your tires, under-inflated tires can negatively affect your MPG, making your car less fuel efficient.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Start a Garden or Visit a Farm

Gardening is a fun, hands-on way to teach kids about the Earth and about healthy food. Grow your own veggies, or create a garden full of flowers to attract hummingbirds and butterflies! If your kids are into critters, start a compost bin and be sure to add lots of worms! Many nonprofits hold programs to educate urban farmers, like the Seattle Tilth Association. You could visit your local community garden for more inspiration. Many working farms give tours geared toward kids that show the effort and care that goes into growing healthy, local and fresh food while kids can engage with the farmers and animals.

5. Feed the Birds

Make your yard or balcony a haven for hungry wild birds. Set up a bird feeder and keep track of your visitors. There are many local Audubon Societies that give local birding walks as well and can help you identify the birds at your feeder. Take a walk around your neighborhood one morning and try to see how many birds you can identify. Believe it or not, the local dump is actually a favored birding spot as well. Some dumps and recycling centers offer tours. (Also a great place for kids to see how waste adds up.)

6. Recycle Your Clothes and Toys

Now is a great time to do some spring cleaning. If you end up with a mountain of clothes that no longer fit your kids, or toys that they have outgrown, consider donating them to those in need. It’s easy to have kids help out. Gather all of your donations in a recycling bin and head to your local Goodwill together. Many local groups also accept clothing and toy donations for those in need.

7. Ride a Bike

Instead of driving to run errands, try riding bikes together to local shops. You’ll save gas, get exercise and help the environment. Many bicycle nonprofits advocate for bikers’ rights and/or offer safety courses for riders, like The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition.

8. Read a Book–or Write One!

Take a trip to your local library and check out some books about your local flora and fauna. (After all, the library puts ‘reduce reuse recycle’ into action every day!) Have a writing session with your kids and create some art about the Earth. Nonprofits like River of Words in Berkeley, CA work to foster both literacy and environmental stewardship through poetry.

9. Go to a Farmers’ Market

Get some tasty local fruits and veggies at your farmers’ market. Most markets will let kids sample lots of different foods. Talk with the farmers and ask about how they grow their produce. Bring your reusable bags and ask for recipes too! Then have the kids help out with preparing a meal with the fruits and veggies you buy.

10. Make a Reusable Bag

Don’t have bags for the market? Use an old t-shirt and make a reusable bag! Kids can have fun decorating it.

Know of a great environmental nonprofit doing work near you? Write a review and let other folks know about it!

 

 

 

Undiscovered Green Nonprofits Stand Out in Usual Contest

Leave a Comment May 6, 2012

When we here at GreatNonprofits announced the winners of the 2012 Green Awards, we saw some fascinating trends.  The organizations with the most reviews are far from the usual suspects; the leading nonprofits are small and local and frequently boast uncommon and niche missions.

One of the contest winners was the Bat World Sanctuary, based in Mineral Wells, TX. The nonprofit, dedicated to the rescue and rehabilitation of bats has racked up 144 reviews and have nearly a five-out-of-five star average. The Sanctuary works to protect wild bat colonies and provides sanctuary for non-releasable bats.

Reviews ranged from kids who got help with school projects through the nonprofit, to wildlife rehabilitators. One reviewer stressed the importance of the organization’s educational component, “I feel that Bat World Sanctuary is doing a great deal to educate the public on the importance of bats, along with protecting these incredible creatures.” Another reviewer mentions needing help identifying bats, writing “The only group that responded to my plea for information was Bat World Sanctuary.”

The contest, which allowed local environmental nonprofits to be honored through online volunteer, client and donor reviews, was created as a way to bring attention to under-the-radar organizations doing exemplary work to promote sustainability and the environment.   More than 130 nonprofits participated.

Another winning organization, WiserEarth, hopes to spread the messages of sustainability by offering a website covering eco-issues in Spanish, French, Chinese, German, Italian, Portuguese and Indonesian. Volunteers help with translation. Reviewers were impressed with the global and local opportunities the site provides:

“I am passionate about the potential impact nonprofits can have then they work together to build movements, instead of trying to “own” the cause or work themselves. As such, I was incredibly happy to work with WiserEarth to collaborate on local groups and events around the world that meant local organizations could come together, share knowledge, and grow together. WiserEarth’s collaborative approach is refreshing and promising!”

The Professional Animal Retirement Center shows 15,000 people around their sanctuary every year. Visitors learn about more than 45 exotic and endangered former “pets” and retired performers, and about conservation of endangered species and habitats.

“I love visiting,” writes one reviewer. “It was such an up close experience in seeing the animals, and the care that is tendered them is so very clear.”

Mindy Stinner, Executive Director at Conservators’ Center, another winning organization, says she entered the contest to get feedback from volunteers. The reviews the organization received “brought some of our hardworking employees and volunteers to tears,” she says. More importantly though,  the reviews highlighted what people like most about the enter, which Stinner says has helped it better refine what it does to ensure that visitors walk away determined to spread the word.

The results of this contest is consistent with the overall ratings of nonprofits on the website.  Small and local nonprofits consistently get higher satisfaction ratings from volunteers and donors than larger and national ones.

Why is this?  We believe that smaller organizations provide meaningful opportunities for volunteers to do real programmatic work – not just stuff mailers.  They also provide more hands-on opportunities for donors.  Donors might be able to visit the nonprofit, or meet with the staff or participate as a volunteer on a project.  Smaller organizations are probably also a lot more “high-touch” – they can respond quickly to donor or volunteer requests or feedback.

And most importantly, the work of local organizations is more visible in the community where donors and volunteers live.

A sort of Zagat guide of candid reviews of nonprofits, GreatNonprofits.org provides a platform for those who want to share their experience and also functions as a library of honest, user-generated content to aid potential volunteers and donors in their search for the right nonprofit.


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