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Volunteering this Earth Day

What did you do for Earth Day 2013? Did you wear a special button? Recycle your newspapers? Light up Twitter with eco-tips? Whatever it was, it likely didn't compare to what happened on April 22, 1970, the country’s inaugural Earth Day. Back then, Earth Day took the country by storm, generating more than 12,000 different events with more than 35,000 speakers. Congress actually took the day off and two-thirds of its members spoke at Earth Day events. The Today Show dedicated 10 full hours of airtime to the event, which was dubbed a national teach-in.

The Nature Conservancy has plans to jumpstart Earth Day 2014 with a day of volunteering and a healthy dose of fun. Roughly 30 volunteers from Austin-area Whole Foods Markets will descend on our Barton Creek Habitat Preserve to get their hands dirty and learn about our work in Central Texas. Led by Preserve Manager Brandon Crawford, volunteers will be cutting juniper, clearing invasive plants and helping maintain the preserve’s network of hiking trails. They’ll also participate in a bird banding and have the opportunity to picnic, hike, and swim in Barton Creek, which supplies one of Austin’s most popular and beloved watering holes.

The importance of a day like this cannot be understated. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, around 62 million Americans learned the value of volunteerism in 2013—it boosts self-confidence; helps establish and promote personal and professional relationships; teaches valuable job skills and benefits local communities (not to mention the organizations that need help!). But less than 3 percent of those people volunteered for an environmental organization. In order to improve those numbers and make Texas a better place to live, work and play, the Conservancy wants to encourage people of every age to get outside, explore their surroundings and volunteer—on Earth Day and every day.

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