April is Earth Month and it is a great time to get outdoors and give back, because it all adds up to a healthier you and a cleaner environment. Every little bit you do can help the environment, from recycling at home and the office to turning off the lights when you leave a room.
Earth Month is the perfect time to explore your neighborhood park or nature preserve, volunteer with environmental groups or attend an Earth Day event to support environmental causes year-round. A recent Kaiser Family Foundation study found that kids spend, on average, more than seven hours per day with electronic media. The antidote for gamer’s eye and texter’s thumb is right outside the door, where neighborhood nature offers sights, sounds – even smells – to engage and recharge all of a child’s senses. Studies also show that even as little as thirty minutes of activity a day will keep you healthy. It can be as simple as a bike ride around the neighborhood or a hike in a local park.
There are so many great places to get outdoors in Atlanta to follow trails, catch fish, listen to songbirds and canoe. Here are a few things to do with your family or on your own this Earth Month:
Earth Day Kids Fest
A great event to get your kids out doors is the 9th annual Earth Day Kids Fest, Saturday, April 14, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Admission is $8 for adults, $5 for children (2 and under get in free). If you ride your bike to the event there is also free admission. The Captain Planet Foundation will team up again with the Chattahoochee Nature Center to organize this unique hands-on, environmental education experience where youth are encouraged to take the first steps in becoming environmental stewards.You can visit the Eco-Village where you will learn about local organizations that are doing great things to protect the planet. You can also stop by each of the local non-profits for fun and exciting hands-on activities especially for kids. This year’s goal is to encourage people to take individual actions as a part of the Earth Day Network’s (EDN) “Billion Acts of Green.” For more information, visit chattnaturecenter.org or captainplanetfdn.org.
Another fun and eco-friendly thing you can do with your family is take a tree identification walk. Trees Atlanta has seven neighborhood arboreta, including Oakhurst, Sylvan Hills, Inman Park, Virginia Highland, Midtown, Reynoldstown and Cabbagetown. Each arboretum map is available at treesatlanta.org.
Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper
The organization provides a number of different volunteer opportunities for people interested in helping to preserve the Chattahoochee River and its watershed. Sweep the Hooch is a clean-up in partnership with Trout Unlimited and the National Parks Service on Saturday, April 14, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and includes 18 sites and more than 350 volunteers. Last year volunteers picked up four tons of trash along 48 miles of the Chattahoochee River National Recreational Area. For more information, visit ucriverkeeper.org.
Georgia State Parks & Historic Sites
A membership is a great way to enjoy Georgia State Parks & Historic Sites all over the state while saving money and doing your part to support them. The Annual Park Pass grants your vehicle access to park at any Georgia State Park operated by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. The Historic Site Pass grants free admission to historic sites operated by Georgia Department of Natural Resources. If you need further incentive to hit those trails, grab your GPS and enjoy a geo-caching treasure hunt. Whether you are with the entire family, a group of friends, or hiking solo, geocaching is a great way to keep everyone engaged and it provides a great challenge for those who are ready to hunt some treasure. There are also great programs all over the State of Georgia from caving to learning about wildflowers. For more information, visit friendsofgeorgiastateparks.org.
Atlanta Bicycle Coalition
Learn to ride a bike! ABC has bike classes for all age groups, including kids learning to ride. Learn to Ride at Any Age / True Beginners class is for adult first-time bike riders. If you missed out on the experience of learning to ride a bicycle as a kid, this is the class for you. You can learn in a welcoming and nonjudgmental environment, using techniques developed specifically for first-timers. This class has you soon riding with friends and family before you can say “whee!” This class is offered for adults and teens 14 and over. To sign up, visit atlantabike.org.
EarthShare of Georgia
Once you have explored the outdoors in Atlanta and beyond, celebrate Earth Day all year long by donating your time and talents to your local environmental groups. EarthShare of Georgia provides an easy way to donate through your employee giving program to 70 environmental member groups, including all of these incredible groups mentioned in this article. Find out more at earthsharega.org.
The 18th Annual Hoochie
The Nature Conservancy, Georgia Chapter, hosts this event Friday, April 13, 7 p.m. to midnight at the Tophat Soccer Fields, Atlanta. Enjoy an evening of music, food, interactive conservation stations and a silent auction. Tickets are $125. Nature.org/hoochie
EarthShare of Georgia’s Corporate Green Day Challenge.
Employees get to experience first-hand the work of EarthShare’s environmental member organizations by volunteering to help clean up local parks on Saturday, April 14, from 9 a.m. to noon. Must be an Earth Day Sponsor company employee to participate. earthsharega.org
EarthShare of Georgia’s 16th Annual Earth Day Party
EarthShare of Georgia’s premier Earth Day event at King Plow Arts Center, Wednesday, April 18, 7-10 p.m. Purchase tickets for $60 per person online at earthsharega.org.
EarthShare of Georgia’s Earth Day Leadership Breakfast
EarthShare of Georgia’s event at the Georgia World Congress Center, Friday, April 20, 8-10 a.m. The keynote speaker will be A. Stanley Meiburg, Deputy Regional Administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Purchase tickets for $100 per person online at earthsharega.org.
Georgia Tech’s 15th Annual Earth Day Celebration
The event is Friday, April 20, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. on Tech Walk. The goal of Georgia Tech’s Earth Day Celebration is to focus attention on the environment and increase people’s awareness of the world around them. The event is free and open to the public, and features 70 exhibitors, eco-friendly giveaways, recycling opportunities, a clothing swap, an office supply exchange, live music, and organic popcorn. This is one of the largest Earth Day celebrations in the southeast. earthday.gatech.edu
Picnic for the Planet
The Nature Conservancy Georgia Chapter hosts this event Thursday, April 26, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. in the parking lot at 12th and Peachtree Street. Join The Nature Conservancy and the Atlanta Street Food Coalition to celebrate Earth Day. Nature.org/earthday
EarthShare of Georgia: Earth Day volunteers needed for day-of assistance with events around the city. Must be 21 to participate. Contact Stephanie Mann at (404) 873-3173 or email@example.com. earthsharega.org
Chattahoochee Nature Center: To be added to the special event email list so that you can become one of CNC’s event volunteers email your name, telephone number, and preferred email address to firstname.lastname@example.org chattnaturecenter.org.
Georgia Organics: The organization need help distributing newsletters and Atlanta Local Food Guide around the state of Georgia. Also needs help with annual conference planning. Dates and hours are flexible. Contact Stephanie Hass at email@example.com or (678) 702.0400. georgiaorganics.org.
Georgia Wildlife Federation: Adopt-A-Stream is a unique effort to involve the public and local communities in water quality protection. Volunteers, such as the Georgia Wildlife Federation, adopt a section of stream, river or lake for one year. Adopt-A-Stream groups conduct visual surveys and clean-ups, improve stream habitat and/or monitor water quality. To volunteer, contact Robert Phillips at (770) 787-7887 or firstname.lastname@example.org or Christina Marr at email@example.com.
Park Pride: To get more involved in your community park, or to become a volunteer, willing to work for the greater good of Atlanta’s parks and green spaces, contact John Ahern at (404) 546-7982 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Trees Atlanta: All events are Saturday mornings, 9 a.m. – noon. Pizza will be provided to all volunteers afterwards. Please bring gloves and a bottle of water. Trees Atlanta provides all tools and instruction. Contact Susan Pierce (404) 522-4097 or email@example.com. Volunteers can also sign up at treesatlanta.org.
Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper: Interested in helping and preserving the Chattahoochee River and its watershed through programs in education, community outreach, policy reform and legal actions? From working all day at a festival, to assisting with river clean-ups, to helping out for a few hours in the office, there’s something available for everyone. Contact Tammy Morrissey at firstname.lastname@example.org or (404) 352-9828 or fill out the volunteer form at ucriverkeeper.com/getinvolved3.htm.
For more volunteer opportunities, visit earthsharega.org.