It's Earth Month
Volunteer for the Environment!
It's Earth Month, the perfect time to focus on our planet's needs by participating in some of the park and stream cleanups or other environment-related volunteer activities taking place throughout our area this month. It's a great chance to get outside after a long winter and the restrictions of the pandemic.

See our feature on Montgomery Parks, below, for some great suggestions. Other Earth Month volunteer activities include:

  • GreenFest/Earth Day Celebration at Brookside Gardens on April 23. Volunteers will assist staff with earth month-themed family activities, arts and craft projects, and environmental education. Bilingual applicants are encouraged to apply.

  • Participating in the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection's "Plogging" Challenge, which asks residents to pick up trash while out jogging or walking in their own neighborhoods.

  • Creating wildlife habitats, restoring a slave cemetery, or assisting with a variety of farm tasks at Button Farm Living History Center in Germantown

Find more environmental volunteer activities--in April and all year--by using the Volunteer Center website's search filter to show opportunities for those interested in the environment.
Montgomery National Park & Planning Montgomery Parks

Through the challenges of the pandemic, one thing has been a gift: access to Montgomery Parks. Despite openings and closings, restrictions, and mandates, Montgomery Parks has been fortunate for the volunteers who have contributed 22,245 hours of time and effort. "Park volunteers are passionate and dedicated to parks, trails, facilities, or causes, says Molly Gallant, Senior Volunteer Services and Partnerships Coordinator. "They often form a close network with other volunteers around their volunteer work."

The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, which is a leader in land use planning, parks, and recreation, welcomed visitors during the pandemic as people sought ways to connect with nature and each other during some of the darkest days of COVID-19. Our county's park system includes 421 parks of 324,000 acres (about 37,1000 managed acres), 4 lakes, 490 miles of streams, 275 playgrounds, 102 campsites, 136 picnic areas, 114 historic structures, and much more.

Montgomery Parks has volunteer opportunities for individuals, families, students, businesses, scouts, and anyone else who is looking for a fun way to give back to our community. Montgomery Parks has a wide scope of volunteer positions that touch all interest areas, from deer management to greeting visitors at the Gardens and Nature Centers. "If you want to get your hands dirty or work with guests at a special event, or you’re looking for a one-time service project or to take on a long-term position, the Volunteer Services Office (VSO) is here to help!" says Molly.
Here is a sampling of the Montgomery County Parks Earth Day, clean-up, and other event highlights for April. Please register early, as these events fill up quickly.

The good news is that there are many of them in the spring and fall. Join an already organized group for Earth Month Cleanups all over Montgomery Parks, led by Stream Strider or Park Staff.
What Would We Do Without Volunteers?
April is Volunteer Appreciation Month. In just the last year, volunteers have prepared and distributed food, collected supplies for refugees, cleaned streams, organized neighbors, and tutored remotely. Your efforts embody the spirit of what it means to really be the change you wish to see in the world. Thank you so much for your selfless and ongoing volunteerism!
Student Service Learning (SSL) Opportunities
MCPS Spring Break (April 11-18, 2022) is just around the corner and is a great time for student volunteers to serve and earn SSL hours! SSL remains a state graduation requirement -- students are required to earn 75 SSL hours to graduate from high school. Many organizations are looking for student volunteers to support their valuable efforts and meaningful work during Spring Break, and many agencies have also already begun posting volunteer opportunities for the summer months.

There are a number of terrific Earth Month activities that are SSL-approved, but there is a great variety in SSL opportunities. See a sampling of those listed below with the blue graduation cap icon. While these are specifically designated as SSL-approved, many of these are also good for families and adults. Read the description carefully to learn more.
Due to extenuating circumstances related to the pandemic, any unsubmitted SSL forms for service completed after June 1, 2019, will be accepted by schools’ SSL coordinators until the required deadline of June 3, 2022. Please note that after the 2021-2022 school year, SSL forms will no longer be accepted from previous school years. A complete list of SSL coordinators may be found on the MCPS SSL webpage at www.mcps-ssl.org.
 Any questions about the SSL program may be directed to the SSL dropbox at SSL@mcpsmd.org.
JOIN THE GREENFEST 2022/EARTH DAY CELEBRATION AT BROOKSIDE GARDENS on April 23 from 10 am to 5:30 pm. Volunteers will assist staff with Earth Month-themed family activities, arts and crafts, and environmental education. Bilingual applicants are encouraged to apply. All volunteers must show proof of vaccination.
EXPLORE GAITHERSBURG WITH A CLEAN-UP AND TRAIL MAPPING: Join Gaithersburg Parks, Arts and Recreation Corporation on April 24 from noon to 2 pm, at Victory Farm Park and Kelley Park. For ages 10 and up; those under 14 must be accompanied by an adult.
PARTICIPATE IN MCPS PEACEJAM MID-ATLANTIC YOUTH CONFERENCE for MCPS HS STUDENTS on April 23 from 8 am to 8 pm at Northwood High School. Pre-registration required. No on-site registration will be permitted. The featured guest will be children's rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize recipient Kailash Satyarthi who lead a global movement to end child slavery and exploitive child labor practices. Registration is first-come, first-served, as space allows.
SUPPORT THE FOOD PANTRY AT SO WHAT ELSE: Help with bagging produce, loading/unloading pallets of food, assist clients with selecting items. Read the opportunity description for details on inclement weather plans, hours of need, and more.
Opportunities marked with the graduation cap icon meet the MCPS guidelines for Student Service Learning (SSL) hours--but they're not just for students! Other opportunities may be eligible for SSL hours; visit the MCPS SSL website to learn more.
Are you over age 50 and looking for ways to contribute significant time and talent to serving our community?

Our advisors can help you find your best volunteer fit!

Watch the Ways to Make a Difference
Make a Difference, a monthly County Cable Montgomery program, highlights the contributions of stellar county volunteers and organizations that work to better our community. This month, Faith McNeill, the new manager of the Volunteer Center, tells the story of the roots of her own love of volunteerism and her goals for the Volunteer Center.
Free Tax Prep for Older Adults: AARP Tax-Aide
The AARP Tax-Aide Program offers free tax preparation assistance with special attention to older adults age 60+. Registration is by appointment only. Call 240-777-2577 or visit www.montgomerycountymd.gov/taxaide.
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The Montgomery County Volunteer Center is part of the Office of Community Partnerships, which works to strengthen the relationship between the Montgomery County government and the residents it serves, with special emphasis on underserved and emerging communities. Subscribe to the monthly OCP newsletter to keep up with these activities.

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