Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens Volunteers during NPLD

What to Expect at Your First NPLD Event

Congrats on registering for your first National Public Lands Day (NPLD)! You’ll be joining hundreds of thousands of volunteers at NPLD, held this year on Saturday, September 28, 2019. Now what?

If you’re a first-timer, you might be wondering what to expect at the event, what to bring, and how to parlay this experience into something bigger. We asked Tony Richardson, NEEF’s program director of public lands engagement, to share his expert insights on what new NPLD volunteers can expect.

  • What’s the first thing you want new NPLD volunteers to know?
    Thank you for volunteering your time to restore and enhance public lands! As an added incentive, when you volunteer at an event that is happening on federal land, you’re eligible to receive a coupon for one-day free admission, good for up to one year. You can redeem this coupon at national parks and forests and sites managed by Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. We give you this volunteer coupon as a thank you for coming out to roll up your sleeves and help during NPLD. Now, come back to any national park in the next year for one-day free admission.
     
  • How can volunteers stay updated on the NPLD event they registered for?
    Watch your email for information from the NPLD Site Manager at your specific event. And use NEEF’s NPLD event locator, which maps out events near you and provides links to each NPLD site event page. But also check NEEF’s social media pages, as we post daily about NPLD, and look for the bi-weekly NPLD e-newsletter.
     
  • What should first-time volunteers know about participating in an NPLD event?
    Come prepared to have a great time on a public land in your community! Be aware that NPLD events happen rain or shine (unless inclement weather is severe). Come in comfortable clothes, and be prepared to be outside for four to six hours. For safety reasons, wear long pants and close-toed shoes. Volunteer service projects are a big part of nearly every NPLD event, but almost all events have additional complementary activities. Often, volunteers will work in the morning and have a little fun in the afternoon, such as a picnic, a ranger-led hike, or an interactive presentation. For example, last year, one site partnered with a local ornithologist who brought out birds of prey for volunteers.
     
  • What should volunteers bring with them to the event?
    Your specific NPLD event site page should list what you’ll need to bring, because it depends on where the event is and the type of project. In general though you’ll want to bring a water bottle, snack, hat, sunscreen, work gloves, hand sanitizer, and bug repellent. Before you head out, check the weather forecast so you can be prepared. And know that all NPLD events keep a medical kit for first aid and emergencies. Park staff will provide all the supplies, information, and tools you need for a safe, productive day.
     
  • Do volunteers receive any environmental education during their NPLD event?
    Yes! Think of the Site Manager as the foreman for the event who will be on site throughout the event for guidance and questions. Plus, NPLD events try to weave education and recreation as an added component to the service element. We hope everyone leaves NPLD feeling more connected to and informed about public lands in their community. You’ll leave knowing why you did what you did and what the long-term impact is.
     
  • Anything else first-time volunteers should know about their NPLD event?
    While we welcome and encourage participation, please make sure you register for a specific event by finding an NPLD event and registering on that event page. Site Managers need a head count if they are providing food (such as breakfast or lunch) and tools. Also, go out of your comfort zone by saying hi to someone. Meet others and ask why they came out. These NPLD events are great for building community, meeting your neighbors, and reclaiming your local green space.
     

Lisa Beach is a freelance journalist and copywriter. Her work has been published in The New York Times, Eating Well, USA Today Go Escape, Good Housekeeping, YES! Magazine, and dozens more. Check out her writer’s website at www.LisaBeachWrites.com.

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