Organized by the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF), this year's celebration highlights diversity and inclusion.
On September 25, the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF), in collaboration with federal, state, and nonprofit partners, will present the 28th annual National Public Lands Day (NPLD) celebration—the largest single-day volunteer event for America's public lands.
Currently, there are over 500 nationwide volunteer events registered on NEEF's website, with more being added each day. Events include trail maintenance projects, park and river clean ups, tree planting activities, and invasive species removal projects, along with virtual events, such as ranger talks and nature hikes. Preparations for in-person events this year include extra planning for COVID-19 safety considerations.
“While virtual events were a necessity for NPLD Site Managers in 2020, we learned they are also an invaluable tool for connecting a wider, more diverse range of people to parks, forests, marine estuaries, and other public lands sites,” said Meri-Margaret Deoudes, president and CEO of NEEF.
In addition to supporting both virtual and in-person events, NPLD is also designated as a “fee-free day,” granting free admission for visitors at all national parks, as well as sites managed by the Bureau of Land Management, USDA Forest Service, US Army Corps of Engineers, and other participating federal agencies.
"NEEF has historically had a strong commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and we are excited to partner with groups that are focused on engaging underrepresented communities—such as Spanish-speaking, Disability, and LGBTQ+ communities—in the outdoors," said Tony Richardson, director of Public Lands Engagement at NEEF.
Highlighting innovative volunteer events
NEEF recently announced the 25 awardees for their Highlighted Site Sponsorship, which recognizes innovative virtual and in-person NPLD events. Each site will receive up to $1,000 for their event, thanks to financial support from Toyota Motor North America.
“One of the goals of the Highlighted Site sponsorship is to support high-quality events that engage and educate communities on how to care for their local environment,” said Kevin Butt, senior director of Environmental Sustainability at Toyota Motor North America, NPLD national corporate sponsor.
See the full list of Highlighted Site winners.
Supporting inclusive NPLD events
“This year, our goal is to highlight and support NPLD's diversity—in public lands, people, and the ways in which we value and care for these spaces,” said Deoudes.
NEEF partnered with three organizations working with communities that are traditionally underrepresented in the outdoors to present the Nature for All: Engaging Underrepresented Communities in the Outdoors webinar series. Each webinar focuses on individual communities, the issues important to them, and ways to make NPLD events more welcoming to all. In addition, the three organizations—Corazón Latino, Disabled & Outdoors, and Pride Outside—also hosted takeovers of NEEF's Facebook page to share their unique voices on the social media platform.
“NEEF has historically had a strong commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and we are excited to partner with groups that are focused on engaging underrepresented communities—such as Spanish-speaking, Disability, and LGBTQ+ communities—in the outdoors,” said Tony Richardson, director of Public Lands Engagement at NEEF.
NEEF will be holding its final webinar Thursday, Sept. 16, at 2 pm ET. The US Department of Arts & Culture will present its Guide to Indigenous Land Acknowledgment and explain how NPLD Site Managers can learn more about land acknowledgements, including how to perform one before their volunteer event.
Visit Nature for All: Engaging Underrepresented Communities in the Outdoors to register or view recordings of past webinars.
Visit NEEF's NPLD Event locator map to find an NPLD volunteer event near you.