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Care About Conservation? 11 Ideas for Acts of Service on MLK Day

Every year on or around Martin Luther King Day, organizations across the country honor the late Dr. King with marches, parades and acts of service. This is a great way to get the whole family involved and make a difference for your favorite environmental or conservation charity.  

We’ve rounded up a few worthy day-of volunteer opportunities below, but there are plenty more ways to get involved on MLK day or beyond! Tag us at #outdoorsMLK and show us how you’re giving back!

Restore Habitats for Endangered Species 

(Dallardsville, TX)

Join other volunteers on MLK Day at 9 a.m. to restore longleaf pine forest habitat for various endangered species. During this volunteer opportunity on MLK Day, you’ll plant native grass and trees at the Big Sandy Creek Unit.

How to Get Involved: Register at Volunteer.gov or call (409)951-6700 before you attend. Children are welcome.

Trail Clean-Up 

(Tupelo, Mississippi)

Head to the Beech Springs Pavilion and Bike Campground from 9 a.m. to noon on MLK Day to clean up around the trail. Tools are available, but come in closed-toed shoes, long pants and dress for the weather. 

How to Get Involved: There is no need to register. Just show up at Natchez Trace Parkway. Park in the lot near Blackland Prairie Trailhead across from the visitor center. Call Dan Kerber at (662)680-4053 if you have questions.

Remove Graffiti at Hot Springs National Park 

(Garland County, Arkansas)

Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas, Image By: zrfphoto

On Monday, January 16 at 10 a.m., volunteers help get rid of the graffiti marring Hot Springs National Park’s historic beautiful overlooks. 

How to Get Involved: Register at Volunteer.gov. All volunteers meet at Hot Springs Mountain pagoda at 10 a.m. No experience necessary!

Garden for Good With the Greenbelt Native Plant Center 

(New York, NY)

Have a green thumb? Or, even if you don’t, you can still join the Greenbelt Native Plant Center’s staff to sort and clean seeds, work on winter plant care, and do off-season maintenance. Your hard work will ultimately benefit the New York City parks. 

How to Get Involved: Register here, then meet the group at the parking lot of the Greenbelt Native Plant Center at 3808 Victory Boulevard, Staten Island, New York. There are also various park clean-ups happening across New York City’s five boroughs. Just visit NYCGovParks.org to search for a park clean-up near you.

Pick Up Litter at Capitol Reef National Park 

(Torrey, Utah)

Image By: Cavan Images, Getty Images

Come to Capitol Reef National Park on MLK Day to do some clean up. You’ll be working around the Gifford House, surrounding picnic areas, campgrounds, as well as along the Fremont River Trail. Clean-up materials will be provided, but come prepared with your own snack, sunscreen, and dress for the weather.

How to Get Involved: Meet at the Gifford House parking lot (which is 1 mile south of the Capitol Reef visitor center) at 10 a.m. Call (435) 425-4116 if you have any questions. 

Park Cleanup and Restoration at Rock Creek Conservancy

(Washington, DC) 

In the DC area? The Rock Creek Conservancy invites you to join a bunch of activities the weekend leading up to Martin Luther King Day. Partake in restoring trails, cleaning up garbage, and removing invasive plant species at local public parks.

How to Get Involved: See the complete list of events at RockCreekConserancy.org and pick the activity you’re most interested in. Since some spots are limited, you will have to sign up ahead of time. 

MLK Day of Service Opportunities at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum with L.A. Works 

(Los Angeles, California) 

L.A. Works is holding a non-profit fair on Monday, January 16 where you can join various volunteer opportunities related to combating climate change. Go from station to station helping assemble disaster materials, urban greening kits, and more. For adults, there’s also an option to help pre-cut wood for the event.

How to Get Involved: Register to volunteer at LAWorks.com. Events are family-friendly, so bring the kids!

Yard Work in the Adventure Woods in Germantown 

(Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) 

From 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Martin Luther King Day, the Awbury Arboretum invite you to pitch in to cut back invasive vines in the Adventure Woods. 

How to Get Involved: Register to volunteer here, then show up with your own hand pruners and gloves if you have them. 

Beautify Lake Lorna Doone Park 

(Orlando, Florida) 

On Martin Luther King Day, from 9 a.m. to 12 noon, volunteers gather at Lake Lorna Doone Park to pick up garbage and beautify the park. 

How to Get Involved: Meet the Family, Parks and Recreation Team at Lake Lorna Doone Park (1519 W. Church Street Orlando, Florida). If there are no available shifts available here, contact Bailey Clark at bailey.cla[email protected] to confirm you can still participate.  

Potomac River Cleanup 

(Spring, Maryland) 

Get together with the Potomac Conservancy and Montgomery Parks on Monday to clean up Matthew Henson Trail in Spring, Maryland, which is located along the Potomac River. 

How to Get Involved: Sign up at Potomac.org for one of the 50 spots available. Once registered, you’ll receive additional details on safety protocols and what you need to bring on your volunteer day.

Remove Invasive Woody Plants at Rock Run Preserve 

(Joliet, Illinois) 

On Monday, from 9 a.m. to noon, volunteers will gather at the Black Road Access at Rock Run Preserve to remove invasive woody plants from Rock Run Preserve. Anyone age 10 or older can sign up, but space is limited.

How to Get Involved: Register and fill out a waiver here before you attend.

Nothing near you? Check these national resources and organizations to search for opportunities in your area using your zip code or to volunteer virtually:

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