NPLD Site Manager Manual

The 25th Annual National Public Lands Day is on Saturday, September 22, 2018

Welcome to the NPLD Site Manager Manual. For added convenience and simplicity, the NPLD Site Manager Manual is now in a digestible, digital format and remains packed with the tools, documents, worksheets, resources, and other information you've come to rely on to help plan and execute a successful event. Whether this is your first NPLD or your 25th, we hope this manual will help you get the most out of your limited time and resources - from planning and promotion, through the day of the event and beyond.

Please note that more materials will be released over the next few weeks. When these materials are available, we will notify you via email.

However, we encourage you to think of this page as your own personal toolbox that you can quickly and easily reference at any time. We highly recommend bookmarking this page in your browser for added convenience.

Have questions? Please reach out to us at Happy planning!

Planning and Implementing an NPLD Event

Restoration and Resilience
The theme for NPLD 2018 is Restoration and Resilience.

NPLD Planning Calendar
NEEF offers a sample planning calendar to help site managers and Friends Groups plan and carry-out their NPLD events.

Create a Steering Committee
Create a steering committee to help plan and organize an event. Identify people who might serve as chairs of committees or task forces.

Task Forces to Get the Work Done
The Task Force Worksheet provides a list of suggested tasks that may be helpful in planning your event.

Find Volunteers
Site managers have many recommendations for how to run a successful event, but one of the most important is to plan for volunteer recruitment early.

Event Checklist
Create checklists to help site mangers prepare their sites and volunteers for the day of their event.

Site managers can use the attached gubernatorial and mayoral proclamations to promote their event.

Media Release Forms
Site managers are encouraged to use the NEEF media release form for their volunteers.

Thanking Your Volunteers
Volunteers are much more likely to have a positive experience on NPLD and to return to your site if they feel they were appreciated for their efforts.

Restoration and Resilience

Every day, natural disasters and extreme weather, human activities, and a host of other factors take their toll on our public lands, threatening the health and wellbeing of the people and wildlife who depend on them. Public land managers, volunteers, and others who steward these special places work tirelessly to restore these areas, make them more resilient to future threats, and ensure that people and wildlife continue to enjoy them for years to come.

As we get set to celebrate the 25th annual National Public Lands Day—happening on September 22, 2018—NEEF is making plans to recognize NPLD events that highlight restoration and resilience. As in the past, NEEF invites all types of events that celebrate the benefits of public lands and highlight our connection to these special places to participate in National Public Lands Day. But in 2018, we are putting a special emphasis on events that support this year’s theme of Restoration and Resilience, including activities aimed at restoring public lands for future enjoyment and projects that make these lands more resilient to future threats.

Now is the time to register your NPLD event. Visit the NEEF website to access tips for planning a successful event. As you make plans to join NEEF for National Public Lands Day—the nation’s largest single-day volunteer effort—consider including one or more of these restoration and resilience activities as part of your day’s events.

National Public Lands Day is all about pitching in and lending a hand to restore these special places and make them more resilient to damage in the future. Here are some examples of restoration and resilience activities. Have an idea that you don’t see here? Share it with us: Follow NEEF and NPLD on social media and share how your event promotes restoration and resilience using the hashtag #NEEF25thNPLD. Don’t forget to tag us!

  • Invasive species removal: An invasive species is any non-native living organism that causes environmental, health, or economic harm. Removing invasive species helps restore degraded areas to their proper ecological function and increases resilience toward future environmental threats. Kudzu is a common invasive species that grows so rapidly it can smother and out-compete native plant species. Removing its root system supports the successful reintroduction of native vines, such as pipevine or passionflower.
  • Trash pickup: Picking up trash and debris restores the natural beauty of parks and other open spaces while reducing the harmful impact of litter on area plants and wildlife. Trash can threaten wildlife by causing entanglement or ingestion, and negatively alter the habitat. Last year on National Public Lands Day, more than 1,400 Yosemite Facelift volunteers contributed a total of 9,692 hours and collected 14,762 pounds of trash, aiding over 400 species of vertebrates that reside in the park.
  • River/shoreline cleanup: Removing trash and debris from streams, rivers, and creeks restores the health of local waterways and makes them more resilient to future impacts. EPA surveys of US rivers and lakes indicate that roughly 40% are too polluted for recreational use, partially as a result of mismanaged waste. Cleaning up local creeks, rivers, and lakes helps rehabilitate polluted but critical waterways throughout the US.
  • Tree planting: Planting trees makes public lands and the people who live near them more resilient by restoring wildlife habitat, preventing future erosion, and improving air quality. Just 100 trees remove 53 tons of carbon dioxide and 430 pounds of other air pollutants per year. Trees also help recharge the nation’s groundwater supply and regulate air temperature.
  • Trail maintenance: Trail restoration and maintenance keep parks and other public lands healthy and enable visitors to enjoy the health and recreational benefits of these special places now and in the future. Typical trail maintenance activities include cutting overgrown vegetation and reconstructing trail tread. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the National Scenic Trails Act, making it the perfect time to spruce up local trails and get them ready for the next 50 years.
  • Habitat restoration: Habitat restoration aids threatened wildlife and helps them be more resilient to a changing environment. This year, the Department of the Navy, the Seal Beach National Wildlife Refuge, and the Friends of the Seal Beach National Wildlife Refuge, are partnering to restore the habitat of federally-listed endangered bird species, numerous pollinator species, and a wide variety of mammals, amphibians, birds, and reptiles at Seal Beach in California. Efforts to restore habitat include removal of invasive plant species, preparing the land for restoration, and planting native plants.
  • Community gardens: Volunteering at a community garden increases the resilience of communities in food deserts and restores urban green spaces. Over 42 million households in America grow fresh fruits and vegetables in home or community gardens. Interested in improving food access in your community? Find a community garden near you.
  • Nature walks: A simple walk through a natural area (possibly picking up trash along the way), can be restorative not just for participants, but also for the environment, by leaving the trail better than the group found it and inspiring future environmental stewardship. Did you know that spending time outside has been shown to reduce stress, boost your immune system, and improve memory?
  • Environmental education activity: Hosting or participating in an environmental education event promotes the restoration and resilience of public lands by educating people of all ages about the connection between people and the natural world around them, and the importance of environmental stewardship. Check out NEEF’s Sunwise curriculum for activities that help connect kids to the outdoors while keeping them safe in the sun.
  • Increasing access: Increased access to public lands through trail maintenance projects, activities that engage diverse communities, and any effort that inspires more people to get outdoors creates greater understanding of the value of environmental stewardship and encourages future restoration efforts. Did you know that volunteering has been shown to boost self-esteem, contribute to a longer life, and reduce stress?

Follow NEEF and NPLD on social media for more examples of restoration of resilience. Share your ideas on #NPLD.

Planning Calendar

NEEF offers a sample planning calendar to help site managers and Friends Groups plan and implement their environmental education, recreation, volunteer, or stewardship event on National Public Lands Day.

Download Planning Calendar (PDF)

Steering Committee

Create a steering committee to help plan and organize a National Public Lands Day event. Identify people who might serve as chairs of committees or task forces.

Members might include:

  • Employees of the public land hosting your event
  • Leaders of existing volunteer groups who currently support the site (“Friends of” groups)
  • Local and state natural resource agency representatives
  • Local merchants (sporting goods, hardware) and business leaders
  • City or county government officials
  • Leaders of youth groups or scout troops
  • Representatives of sportsmen’s clubs and conservation groups
  • Government or local retiree

The role of the steering committee is to work with the public land staff to plan and organize the event. Some suggestions for the initial meeting of the steering committee:

  • Decide the scope and direction of the public land event
  • Help decide on projects
  • Develop a work plan for the public land event
  • Determine the number of hours and volunteers needed
  • Determine if an environmental education component will be part of the day’s activities
  • Determine the need for entertainment and food
  • Determine how volunteers will be recognized (certificates, letters, gifts, etc.)
  • Decide on any additional committees or task forces that will be needed
  • Develop a “rainy day” plan

Task Forces

The Task Force Worksheet provides a list of suggested tasks that may be helpful in planning your event. In addition, the document provides space for you to fill in your task leaders and track progress on each task. It is recommend to involve leaders in all planning sessions and to set a schedule for committee meetings where leaders will deliver their individual progress reports.

Download Task Force Worksheet (PDF)

Find Volunteers

Veteran site managers have many recommendations for how to run a successful National Public Lands Day event, but one of the most important is to plan for volunteer recruitment early.

There are many things to think about before recruitment begins:

  • How many volunteers can your site accomodate?
  • Based on the number of projects planned, what is the ideal number of volunteers?
  • How will volunteers sign up for your event (i.e. phone, website, email, bulletin boards)?
  • What type of marketing plan is appropriate for your site or organization?
  • Will you accept walk-ins on the day of the event?
  • Should you target groups or businesses (such as scout troops or corporate volunteer programs)?

For most sites, it is ideal to begin recruiting about four months before NPLD. You may want to set a limit on the number of volunteers for the day to avoid having volunteers standing around with little or nothing to do. Recruiting volunteers is another area where committees can be helpful.

Most sites have found that pre-registration of volunteers avoids having too many people show up on the day of the event with nothing to do. Pre-registration also allows you to collect names and emails of volunteers before the event, making registration easier. It is also helpful to send orientation emails to volunteers prior to your event.

NEEF recommends using materials from our Promotional Toolkit to attract volunteers of all ages from your community and to engage the local media in your event.

Resources for finding volunteers:

  • Federal, state, and local government agencies can post their public land volunteer opportunities at 

Youth groups that can provide individual volunteers or work crews to sites:

Other groups that provide volunteers for NPLD may include:

  • Civic groups
  • Schools and universities
  • High school environmental or science clubs
  • Local religious groups
  • Staff of elected officials
  • Local conservation and fishing/hunting organizations
  • Local businesses such as hotels or utility companies (some employers emphasize volunteer activities and will help recruit volunteers)

Volunteer websites:

Event Checklist

Below are two example checklists to help site mangers prepare their sites and volunteers for the day of their event. Depending on a site manager's events, these lists may be shorter or longer. Make sure to create your checklist ahead of time so that you know your site and volunteers are ready.

Final Preparations Checklist

  • Set final schedule for the event
  • Make sure team leaders have a safety plan and that they will provide safety instructions to volunteers
  • Prepare a Job Hazard Analysis, if appropriate
  • Define specific tasks
  • List any tools or materials needed
  • Identify team leaders
  • Make arrangements for signs that will direct volunteers to parking, registration, and restrooms
  • Determine numbers of volunteers for each team
  • Develop volunteer registration form
  • Have a "rainy day" plan in place
  • If there is a presentation or opening ceremony, attain audio-visual equipment or podium

Volunteer Checklist

Encourage volunteers to come to this year's event fully prepared. Below is a checklist of recommendations for National Public Lands Day participants to help them come prepared with what they will need in order to have the best experience.

  • Sunglasses
  • Wide-brimmed hat
  • Water bottle
  • Hiking boots or other sturdy footwear
  • Sunscreen (SPF 30+)
  • Work gloves, if necessary
  • Tools, if necessary


A proclamation is a letter signed by a government official that declares a particular day in support of an action, cause, or policy. The first proclamation in American history was signed into effect on October 3, 1789 by President George Washington to commemorate the first Day of National Thanksgiving.

States, cities, and towns can show their support for National Public Lands Day by issuing these ceremonial proclamations. Proclamations can be used by site managers to draw additional media attention, to encourage participation, and to add legitimacy to their event. If you are interested in obtaining an NPLD proclamation from your local, elected officials, contact us at and ask about the status of proclamations in your local area.

Five Tips to Incorporate a Gubernatorial Proclamation into your #NPLD Event:

  1. Put it to use. The proclamation could be used to entice your local newspapers and TV networks to cover your event or spread the word about your event before the big day.
  2. Expand your reach. Use a variety of marketing platforms to inform the public about your governor’s support, such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and others.
  3. Give it a boost. Create an informative and captivating Facebook post about the gubernatorial proclamation to extend the reach of the event.
  4. Propose a speech. Invite your governor or other local dignitary to make an appearance at your NPLD event and see if they will give an opening speech.
  5. Keep it handy. Have a few copies of the proclamation at your event for supporters, sponsors, and the general public to see.

We have included the current gubernatorial and mayoral proclamations for you to use. We will continue to add proclamations leading up to National Public Lands Day. You can use these proclamations to demonstrate to supporters, potential donors, and to the general public the value of your NPLD event.

Gubernatorial Proclamations

Mayoral Proclamations

Media Release Forms

Site managers are encouraged to use the NEEF media release form for their volunteers. By having volunteers sign a media release form, site managers and NEEF may use the great photos of people working and celebrating in your National Public Lands Day Event to promote future events on public lands. The form is available in English and Spanish.

Media Release Form (Download English|Download Spanish)

Thanking Your Volunteers

Volunteers are much more likely to have a positive experience on National Public Lands Day and to return to your site if they feel they were appreciated for their efforts. The most basic way to show your appreciation is to verbally thank volunteers and to present them with certificates on the day of the event. Choose your downloadable volunteer recognition certificate below and print them prior to your event to thank your volunteers!

Download "City Park Painting" Volunteer Certificate (PNG)
Download "Hiker at Overlook" Volunteer Certificate (PNG)
Download "City Garden Volunteer" Volunteer Certificate (PNG)
Download "Southwest Desert" Volunteer Certificate (PNG)

NPLD volunteers at any federal land agency site will also receive a coupon good for a "fee-free" day at that or any other site run by the Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, US Army Corps of Engineers, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and the USDA Forest Service during the next year.

Other Ways for Site Managers to Show Volunteers their Appreciation:

  • Give them the bigger picture. On National Public Lands Day, remind volunteers at your event how their individual efforts, whether planting trees, picking up trash, or leading educational activities, are contributing to the overall well-being of their public lands.
  • Distribute thank you take-away items like water bottles, hats, or t-shirts. Committees on fundraising/in-kind partnerships can assist in obtaining premiums or donations.
  • Host a barbecue or picnic as a way of saying "thank you" to everyone at once. As a reminder, solicitations to these type of events should be made at least three months in advance.
  • Showcase volunteer contributions with photos, video, and messaging via email newsletters, social media networks, blog posts, or pages on your website. Images and video are particularly compelling ways to share the impact of volunteers.
  • Send out personalized "thank you" emails to volunteers from a volunteer manager or executive director. Depending on the number of volunteers involved in NPLD, consider writing simple, handwritten cards!
    • Be sure to tell volunteers specifically why or how their service made a difference. For example, "Thank you for your service at this year's National Public Lands Day! With your help, we were able to plant over 15 trees, remove 30 lbs. of trash, and provide maintenance to several of our site's trails. The help of our volunteers allowed us to accomplish in a single day's work what would have taken our limited staff months to complete!"
  • Install a plaque at a visitor center or along a trail attributing the work to volunteers on NPLD.
  • Post an appreciation notice in a local newspaper.
  • Ask volunteers to write articles or other material about their experiences at NPLD.

For more resources about volunteer appreciation:

About NPLD
Stormy Clouds over Tunnel View in Yosemite

National Public Lands Day FAQ

Want to learn more about National Public Lands Day? This FAQ section has all the answers!
Learn More
Group picture of the volunteers at the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens NPLD Event in 2016

Site Manager Promotional Toolkit

Check out our collection of promotional content including photos, badges, graphics, and more!
Learn More

NPLD & Federal Partners

A listing of all eight of the federal partners for National Public Lands Day.
Learn More
NEEF National Public Lands Day 25th Annual Celebration is September 22, 2018

National Public Lands Day

Mark your calendar for next year: Saturday, September 28, 2019!
Mount Rushmore

NPLD for Site Managers

This hub serves as a repository for site managers to register, develop, and promote their events, working with NEEF other NPLD partners.
Learn More