Washington D.C. - This week President Obama's United We Serve initiative will spotlight the countless ways that volunteers promote energy efficiency, address climate change, and preserve our natural environment as part of Energy and Environment Week.
From building trails and restoring parks to weatherizing homes and teaching environmental education, millions of volunteers make a critical contribution to energy independence and environmental stewardship each year. Through Energy and Environment Week, August 3-9, United We Serve will spotlight some of these projects and success stories on its blog at Serve.gov.
A wide range of organizations are participating, including the Department of Interior, the Department of Energy, Take Pride in America, The Nature Conservancy, the National Wildlife Federation, the Corps Network, the Sierra Club, Community Action Agencies, the Student Conservation Association, Groundwork USA, and Habitat for Humanity.
“As millions of Americans enjoy parks and public lands this summer, we hope they will be inspired to volunteer,” said Nicola Goren, acting CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Serve, which is leading the Administration's United We Serve initiative. “Whether preserving natural treasures for future generations or helping America become more energy secure, volunteers make a huge difference in addressing our energy and environmental challenges.”
Service and volunteering have a long and proud history in the nation's parks and public lands, dating back to the Depression-era Civilian Conservation Corps. Today hundreds of modern-day conservation and youth corps, many part of AmeriCorps, perform similar work preserving natural habitats, restoring parks and streams, weatherizing homes, building and maintaining trails, and teaching the next generation the joy and importance of getting outdoors.
“Children today spend half as much time outdoors as their parents and this has significant implications for our children's health, the economy and the future of American conservation,” said Interior Secretary Ken Salazar when he launched the Department's participation in United We Serve in June. “This summer, as part of President Obama's new United We Serve campaign, I encourage all Americans to serve by mentoring a child in the great outdoors and introducing them to our nation's treasured landscapes.”
Examples of activities taking place during Energy and Environment Week include:
- Trail Construction and Invasive Plant Removal: The National Wildlife Federal is partnering with federal land management agencies on three environmental service projects on August 5: removing invasive plant species with the National Park Service at Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve in Alexandria, VA; repairing a walking trail with the Bureau of Land Management at Virginia's Meadowood Special Recreation Area, and removing invasive plants at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Patuxent Research Refuge in Laurel, MD. (Click here for more info)
- Improving Groundwater in Appalachia: During the week of August 3, the Appalachian Coal Country Watershed Team led by AmeriCorps VISTA members will take new volunteers out to streams in multiple states (MD, PA, OH, WV, TN, VA) that are affected by pollution from factories and mines to test groundwater and clean up streams to make the water safe for drinking and recreation. (Click here for more info)
- Cleaning the Anacostia River, Washington DC: The Earth Conservation Corps, a nonprofit that engages DC youth in the restoration of the Anacostia River, is inviting volunteers to clean up shoreline trash and remove invasive plants at Kenilworth Park on August 5. (Click her for more info)
- Weatherizing Homes in Pennsylvania: The Community Action Agency of Delaware County in Landsdowne, PA will engage 100 volunteers between August 3-7 to help renovate the homes of elderly, low-income, and disabled persons in Lansdowne, Darby, and Yeadon. Repairs will include painting, weatherization, porch repairs, wheelchair ramp construction, and other work. (Click here for more info)
- Removing Invasive Species with The Nature Conservancy, Fairfax County, VA: On Thursday, Aug. 6 and Saturday, Aug. 8, the Virginia Native Plant Society, Potomac Gorge weed warriors, and The Nature Conservancy will host a volunteer project to remove wavy leaf basket grass, a new invasive species at the Fraser Preserve in Fairfax County, VA. The project hopes to eradicate the fast-growing species before it spreads. (Click here for more info)
- Preserving Mercer Island Park, WA: On August 6, volunteers with EarthCorps, Mercer Island Parks and Recreation and community members will remove invasive plants that threaten to cover and kill trees, fill the forest floor, and prevent the sprouting of tree seedlings at Clarke Beach on the shores of Lake Washington. (Click here for more info)
- Restoring the Appalachian Trail: Volunteers with Groundwork Hudson Valley and Groundwork Elizabeth will be helping the National Park Service restore sections of the Appalachian Trail in New York and remove invasive species along the trail and overlooks. (Click here for more info)
- Building Energy Efficient Homes, Birmingham, AL and Charlotte, NC: Every day during the week of August 3rd, the Birmingham, AL Habitat for Humanity will engage volunteers in building an Energy Star certified home for a family of the Wylam Oaks community. In Charlotte, NC, Habitat for Humanity is launching a partnership with the Sierra Club to make homes more energy efficient through installing insulation, sealing ductwork, and caulking openings that allow air to escape. (Click here for more info)
In addition to these projects, organizations participating in United We serve are encouraged to sponsor energy and environmental service projects and highlight them to the public and media as a way to recruit additional volunteers for efforts throughout the year.
Upcoming United We Serve issue weeks are Health (August 10-17) and Safety and Security (August 24-30). The final week (August 31-September 6) will focus on service by people of faith and faith-based organizations. The first issue week, Community Renewal, was July 20-26, followed by Education Week (July 27-August 2).