Sunday, December 8, 2013

Service Projects

Day 8: Service Projects

A great way to be involved in Nature Kindness is through service projects. We have been involved in many nature related service projects in the last several years. Many have been organized by another group, like our church, a nature center or other natural resource, or by an organization. We have organized others, gathering a few families to join us in our efforts. Watch the calendar at Inside Outside Michiana for service opportunities in the near future.

I will admit, there are a few grumblings from some of the kids at times; however, when they are "working" with other children, they often find that it can be fun. Of course, they need breaks, but it's fun to socialize and be with others during this time.

Here are a few service projects we have done in the past:

River Clean Up in Warsaw--organized by our church--fun in the water!

Invasive Species Pull--we organized this with a few other families. It was fun to see them and we accomplished more than we could have done on our own!

National Public Lands Day--This was part of a service project at Woodlawn Nature Center in conjunction with the opening of a new exhibit. Our family probably stuck at it the longest. It was good to have an opportunity for our family to work together, knowing we were involved in making this slice of woods better.

Litter Pick Up--I wrote about picking up litter last week--very easy to do and makes a big impact!

Work Party at my Grandparents' House--This was a blast to gather as an extended family and give back to our grandparents. I'll include some of the tips from this post below:

Who you might invite to help at a work party:
1. Family
2. Friends
3. Organizations (churches, schools, sports leagues, interest groups, scouts, etc.) 
4. Coworkers
5. Neighbors

Benefits of working together with others:
1. Accomplishing great things!
2. Have fun.
3. Socializing with others.
4. Getting more done than you could on your own.
5. Helping others and the environment.
6. Being the good in the world.

A few ideas if you'd like to host your own nature service party:
1. Many area agencies would love help clearing out brush or invasive species, working on a special project, or helping host an activity. Contact local nature centers, trail stewards, and other groups that could use help. Other options might be a neighborhood park, a neighbor who could use extra help, or  adopt-a-trail or highway sites. I suggest contacting the recipient to understand wishes before doing any service.
2. Encourage others to bring tools and other needed items. Make sure these are labeled to get them back to their owner. Gloves are helpful.
3. Have water available to keep people hydrated throughout the activity.
4. Keep a central list of things to work on so that when one option is finished, there are other projects to tackle.
5. Food is always a great addition! Having a potluck or sponsored meal or just good refreshments is a great way to refuel and a good time to socialize.
6. Think of activities for children to accomplish. They can be helpful in picking weeds up, moving rocks, etc. They need these experiences too!
7. Try to make it fun! A few harmless practical jokes or well placed water balloons can make things exciting!
8. Designate a brush pile or other ways of disposing of the accumulated natural debris. Planning ahead for this will make things go more smoothly. Some items, such as garlic mustard, should really be bagged and put in the trash. 
9. Thank you for helping! There are many ways you can make an impact! Be the good in the world!