National Volunteer Month & Beyond Boosts Service-Based Learning

Over 16 Volunteer Opportunities to Connect with Your Community & Community Treasures

Participating in community spring clean-ups gives families the opportunity to engage in community service together while promoting civic engagement and strengthening a sense of place in youth participants.

As spring warms the landscape across western Massachusetts, opportunities for outdoor adventures increase exponentially. What might have been a ski or snowshoe trek to search for animal tracks just a month ago would now be a muddy hike to search for vernal pools. However, in order to truly appreciate the wonderful outdoor spaces available to us, it’s important to lend a hand in readying local parks and trails for the season!

During National Volunteer Month, many local parks and trails are in need of some restoration, and there are plenty of upcoming opportunities for families to volunteer their time to prepare such locations for warm weather visitors. In addition to providing a much needed (and much appreciated) service to the community, participating in a spring clean-up effort is a great way to learn the specifics of local outdoor spaces. In helping to ready garden beds for spring, families can learn about how, when, and why certain plant varieties are planted. Similarly, families with older children can learn by helping out with trail maintenance – an activity that will help volunteers to learn about how trails are created and how (and why) they require such maintenance.

All of the many upcoming local volunteer opportunities aim to bring together community members for a day of cooperative work and building connections to nature, while also providing service based learning experiences! Community service is a great way to show your appreciation for local resources as a family, and participating in volunteer work can help kids develop a strong commitment to supporting their community and their surroundings.

Every Tuesday – The beautiful gardens at Naumkeag in Stockbridge are a wonderful place to spend a spring or summer day, but they need to be maintained, too! The Trustees of Reservations have organized Tuesday Work Days in the Garden in order to get volunteers engaged in caring for the gardens. Two-hour shifts are available throughout each Tuesday, and volunteers may get free admission to special lectures and/or workshops. Call to register.

Saturday, April 18thClean-Up West Springfield Day invites community members to lend a hand for city beautification! Volunteers can register beginning at 8:30am at the Mittineague Park Rotary Pavillion, and will be dispatched to sites throughout the city to work from 9am-12noon. The event ends with a thank-you cookout provided by the local Lions Club. Pre-registration can be done by calling Dori Hayes at 413-733-3843.

Saturday, April 18th – Join the AMC for a day of working (and maybe climbing!) at Chapel Brook in Ashfield! Held from 9am-1pm, the Trail Work and Play event ends with the opportunity to scale Chapel Brook’s cliff under close supervision.

Thursday, April 23rd – Join the Housatonic Valley Association for an afternoon work party on the Old Mill Trail in Hinsdale! Volunteers will be asked to clear winter debris, pick up trash, replace trail markers, and weed and mulch around buffer plants. Call 413-394-9796 or e-mail dregan@hvatoday.org or more information.

Saturday, April 25th – It’s springtime, and Red Gate Farm in Buckland is coming alive! Lend a hand on Volunteer Day to help get the farm up and running. There are a great many jobs to be done! Volunteers are needed from 10am-1pm, and soup and bread will be served for lunch.

Saturday, April 25th – The Massachusetts DCR hosts Park Serve Day, a statewide event calling for community volunteers to help with basic park maintenance in preparation for the summer season. Opportunities exist at over 30 parks statewide, so chances are there’s an event happening near you! Families can search online to peruse available projects and park locations. All ages welcome!

Saturday, April 25thCelebrate Earth Day by helping to clean up the city of Westfield! Volunteers should meet at the Masonic Lodge at 72 Broad Street, and are asked to work from 8am-1pm. Please register in advance by calling 413-572-6281 or e-mailing k.leight@cityofwestfield.org.

Saturday, April 25th – This year mark’s Mass Audubon’s 9th Annual Statewide Volunteer Day! A huge variety of projects are available for volunteers to participate in all across the state. Locally, families can peruse projects at Canoe Meadows in Pittsfield, Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary in Easthampton, and Laughing Brook Wildlife Sanctuary in Hampden. Volunteers must pre-register, as space is limited and often fills quickly!

Saturday, May 3rd – Join the Trustees of Reservations for a few hours of volunteer work at Mount Warner in Hadley. Volunteers will be asked to help with improving the visitor trail and preparing the property for spring. Held from 11am-1pm.

Saturday, May 3rd – Help to beautify the city of Springfield with the Springfield Museums and Keep Springfield Beautiful! Earth Day Clean-Up will take place from 8am-12noon, and volunteers should meet at Duggan Middle School (105 Wilbraham Road). Free lunches provided on a first-come, first-serve basis. Rain or shine!

Thursday, May 7th – Become an Eco-Volunteer at Bartholomew’s Cobble in Sheffield. Held from 9am-12noon, the hands-on community service event allows volunteers to learn about the cobble’s plant communities and trails while also helping to maintain the property. Contact rwendell@ttor.org for more information.

Saturday, May 9th – Get ready for The BIG Clean at Naumkeag! This beautiful Gilded Age property in Stockbridge is known for extensive gardens, but they can’t be beautiful without a little help. Volunteers are welcome from 9am-12noon, and are asked to register in advance.

Saturday, May 9th – Spend the afternoon at Peaked Mountain and help the Trustees of Reservations to prepare the property for spring. The Spring Workday will take place from 1-3pm at the Trustees’ property in Monson.

Saturday, May 16th – Get some gloves on and help to get rid of garlic mustard at the Trustees of Reservations’ Garlic Mustard Pull from 9-11am at the McLennan Reservation in Tyringham. Volunteers are asked to pre-register.

Saturday, May 16th – The Trustees of Reservations call for volunteers to participate in the David Sigelman Memorial Workday at Little Tom Mountain in Holyoke. Volunteers will help to improve the visitor trail and will work to eradicate invasive plant species. Pre-registration required. Held from 1-3pm.

Saturday, May 23rd – Learn about invasive species and help to eradicate them at the Trustees of Reservations’ Garlic Mustard Grab at the Dinosaur Footprints in Holyoke. Volunteers are asked to pre-register.

[Photo credit: (cc) GreatFallsNPS]

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