This Wednesday, we’re offering a special take on our weekly Voluntourism Spotlight. Instead of just focusing on one option, we’ve put together a comprehensive resource of evergreen volunteer travel opportunities that you can take advantage of any time and anywhere you travel.
Keep reading to see how you can volunteer your time on your next vacation to make the planet a bit greener, improve animal welfare, assist a community in need and keep children educated, entertained and safe.
1) Keeping Green
Sustainable living is the focus of Community Services Unlimited, which heads up food and health projects as well as three urban gardens throughout Los Angeles. Visit Downtown Los Angeles for new ways to get your hands dirty.
One of New York’s most respected non-profit, The New York Restoration Project, began as a grassroots effort by Bette Midler. Join this organization that’s a major force in keeping the city clean and green.
Part of the WWOOF program, the Yolitia farm in Mexico focuses on sustainable farming and living. Find out about how you can volunteer your time to help and learn at this family-run community.
The United Kingdom is known for its formal gardens and historic homes, but the Conservation Volunteers focus on protecting and growing the smaller green spaces, local community parks and gardens. Founded in 1959, The Conservation Volunteers support green initiative projects throughout the United Kingdom. Do your part to preserve and conserve national parks, historic houses, and other protected reserves leaves little time or funds for the government to allocate to smaller community spaces.
The hurricane did away with 100,000 trees but with Hike KaTreena you can help regreen the city. Help fix one of the long-standing impacts of the Hurricane and keep New Orleans green.
In Northwest Florida where the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) is doing some extraordinary work through their Ecosystem Restoration Section. Learn about programs for eager volunteers to protect Florida’s shorelines.
Sky Island Alliance (SIA) is a grassroots organization dedicated to the protection and restoration of the natural heritage of native species and habitats in the Sky Island region of the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico. Help with conservation and landscape maintenance as well as a few surprising projects.
In the Smoky Mountains, Trails Forever, a partnership program between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Friends of the Smokies, focuses on sustainable trail improvement maintenance and trail rehabilitation work. Volunteers help re-define sections of trail that have become unsafe or unwalkable, improve drainage structures, build staircases, work to prevent further erosion and naturalize trails to prevent resource damage. Volunteer for a day or even a week with Trails Forever.
2) Animal Care & Welfare
Wild birds, mammals and reptiles are the focus of Eastern Sierra Wildlife Care, which helps wildlife in need and provides community outreach to local schools. Help California wildlife with Eastern Sierra’s Wildlife Care program.
If conservation or zoology interests you, in Malaysia’s Zoo Negara they have a great program for volunteers, that easily fits into existing travel plans. Seeing exotic wildlife like elephants or monkeys is a common item on a Malaysia travel bucket list, but at Zoo Negara you can combine wildlife sighting with educational outreach.
While you may know Cozumel as a beach destination you may be surprised to know it is also a gathering place for horse enthusiasts. The Rancho Universo Horse Sanctuary and Equine Therapy Centre is a resource for animals and children in need. Volunteers to rehabilitate horses and they can help local children in need.
Who doesn’t love pandas? Don’t just ogle them at the zoo or send a check to a charity to help save this endangered species. Ya’an Panda Conservation Center is an accessible and affordable volunteer program in China designed to help protect pandas and their habitats.
3) Children Are the Future
Help improve the lives of at-risk children and families with St. Jude’s Ranch in Boulder City, Nevada. The organization keeps children are fed, clothed, and put into secure home-like environments. Learn how volunteers help support the world and mission of life in St. Jude’s.
In Knysna, South Africa, west of Cape Town, there is award-winning private volunteer organization, Edge of Africa, that aims to do something a bit different. While “voluntourism” isn’t their favorite term, program participants focus on empowerment through sports development and commerce projects.
Oaxaca StreetChildren Grassroots is a U.S. non-profit organization whose sole purpose is to provide Oaxacan children living in extreme poverty with an education. Learn how you can get involved at their center in Oaxaca, El Centro de Esperanza Infantil, where provide nutritious meals, medical care, and all support necessary for more than 600 children to attend public school.
4) Community Support & Disaster Recovery
In the Netherlands, The Hague is host to the United Nations alongside 2,000 charities and volunteer organizations. PEP is the main hub for organizing all the volunteer efforts throughout The Hague. Explore your options to volunteer with PEP.
If you’re headed to the big Apple, New York Cares is your resource for a wide variety of the city’s Voluntourism possibilities, including Hurricane Sandy relief. The organization partners with over a thousand smaller organizations on long and short-terms projects. Help out in Manhattan with New York Cares.
The Mexico Rediscovered program has volunteers work with staff at a center in Cuernavaca (about 2 hours outside Mexico City) dedicated to providing shelter, food, life-skills, and job training to people with intellectual disabilities. The center’s focus is self- advocacy and providing its residents with the proper support and means to reintegrate into the larger community in a positive, life-affirming way. Learn how to get involved with Globe Aware.
Disaster-relief organizations are more in need than ever, and there are ways you can help—both hands-on and from home. Get involved with Operation USA and their fundraising and volunteer programs.
For those who dream of France and the rustic charm of country living, there is a one-of-a-kind voluntourism project in in Brossac at La Giraudiere. Learn more about this working holiday in rural southwest France.
Do as the Romans do…in England! Plan ahead for summer 2013, when you can donate your time to scientific research and excavation of the UK’s Roman heritage along the River Tyne. Learn more about this EarthWatch Institute program.