Posted by on Apr 3, 2014 Views: 5149

Let’s Go! It’s Earthday

Earth Day is coming up. Spring and spring fever are in the air. Kids are getting anxious for summer to come. Why not start planning outings that combine awareness of our fragile environment with the joys of the great outdoors?  GreatNonprofits provides information about environmental organizations with great programs for kids. What captures the imagination of your kids? Is it caring for animals, learning about whales, looking at fossils?

You’ll probably find an engaging event, camp, or interactive class in your area. For inspiration, take a look at some innovative organizations that provide interesting ways to involve children in the world they have inherited.  Check out these areas of interest and read about programs across the country that inspire and motivate kids.

• Wildlife: Caring for and rehabilitating creatures found in the world around us
• Water all around us: Understanding the importance of natural resources
• Nature in arts and literature: Creating art from recycled materials and the natural world
• Stewardship: Becoming responsible caretakers and future champions of the environment

Also, a science, technology, or natural history museum in your area may offer camps and programs for kids interested in environmental issues. You can find information about museums on the GreatNonprofits website. If you are a teacher looking for inspiration and materials, you are not forgotten!

Check out these organizations.

Wildlife: Understanding and caring for animals

Rattlebox Nature Center, Wawa, PA

Rattlebox Nature Center’s mission is to teach adults and kids to respect the animals that share the earth with us. A new program for older children interested in animal care introduces basics, such as brushing, clipping, trimming animals from the size of a mouse to a pony. What a great way to introduce kids to the joy and responsibility of caring for an animal.

What they’re saying

This is a wonderful place. My children have loved it over many years, for camps and for lessons. I know that Valerie also serves children who have had serious hardship in their life for free, allowing them to be near, touch, and learn about the animals. It is great fun and therapy at the same time.

Top Rated:  GreatNonprofits Top Rated in 2013

Save the Whales, Seaside, CA

Save the Whales believes that “… children, the future of the planet, need to be empowered and know that their actions can promote change. Education is the key to saving whales, oceans, and ourselves. “

What they’re saying
This organization brings wonderful hands-on information to students and teachers alike regarding the roles these wonderful creatures play in our environment. ..Most of my students have never been to the ocean despite living less than 25 miles away. They valued the opportunity to see the types of food eaten and to actually touch whalebone was thrilling for them.

Top-Rated: GreatNonprofits top-rated in 2013

Noah’s Ark Rehabilitation Center, Locust Grove, GA 

Noah’s Ark Rehabilitation Center is a nonprofit animal sanctuary dedicated to bringing kids and animals together “…with the purpose of providing unconditional love, unconditional service and a future full of hope.”  This park-like sanctuary is a 250-acre refuge for abused, unwanted and neglected animals. The grounds have paved pathways for strolling, nature trails, and natural habitats for the animals.

What they’re saying
First time donor, and looking forward to being a lifetime supporter. The love, caring, compassion and excitement of Noah’s Ark is amazing and contagious. There is a huge story that hasn’t been fully told about Noah’s Ark and that is a story of unique individuals who have come together to take care of and address a part of our world that needs the attention Noah’s Ark has made its focus. If you want to understand what giving is all about, you need to know Noah’s Ark. You get more from Noah’s Ark’s family than you will ever give to them.

Top-Rated: GreatNonprofits Top-Rated in 2011

Water: Conserving natural resources

Marine Science Institute, Redwood City, CA.

Located on the shores of San Francisco Bay, the Marine Science Institute was founded in 1970 at a time when water resources became a major area of concern for local residents.  MSI’s philosophy is “… putting students in direct physical contact with their local bay environment will help cultivate their natural sense of curiosity while enriching their understanding of science and fostering a responsibility to protect their environment.”

What they’re saying
We go to MSI several times a year and love the educational value. Marine Science Institute does so much with a tiny budget and has a very dedicated group of youth and adult volunteers. They are super passionate about educating people about the Bay and Pacific. They have been very generous and accommodating with the underserved kids that I’ve been involved with.”

Top-Rated: GreatNonprofits top-rated in 2013

Great River Greening, St. Paul, MN

Image courtesy of Great River Greening

If you teach or have older children in your household, you can find organizations that attract teenagers and young adults. For example, in St. Paul, MN, Great River Greening sponsors community-based projects to restore forests, prairies, and waters.

What they’re saying
I teach Environmental Science at an urban community college. Since 1998, I have worked at Great River Greening events with groups of my students almost every semester. The events are well organized and planned by staff with extensive ecological knowledge and expertise. I have had more than 400 students participate in these events throughout the years, and many have benefitted greatly from what they learned and experienced.”

Top-Rated: GreatNonprofits top-rated in 2012

River of Words, Berkeley, CA

In 15 years, River of Words has trained thousands of educators in ways to incorporate nature exploration and the arts into their work with young people.  “We have nurtured tens of thousands of young people in kindergarten through 12th grade with curricula, publications, events, exhibitions, etc., helping them to become keen observers of the world around them, and giving them tools for creative expression of their observations.”

What they’re saying
No other organization works as hard to encourage children to make the connection between themselves and the rivers and wetlands surrounding their homes. The workshops they offer help introduce poetry and art to students in a time when these essential activities receive very little funding from local and national governments. I fear that without River of Words we might lose a generation of poets, artists, and environmentalists.

Conservation and the arts: Using castoffs in creative ways

Image Compliments of the Art of Recyling

Art of Recycle Environmental Education, Ephrata, PA

Part of the Art of Recycle’s mission “…is to teach people how to create ‘art with purpose’ reusing discarded, unwanted, and excess items; creating generations of artists and crafters who are more environmentally conscious.”

What they are saying
A community center that gives kids a fun, creative and safe place to hang out. A way to use our discarded wares to create amazing works of art. A meeting place for Artists, Poets, Painters, and Fairy Aficionados. Art of Recycle is THE BEST.  My 8-year-old son and I frequent the workshops and activities they offer (most free or for a small fee) and create masterpieces out of recycled materials.

Top-Rated: GreatNonprofits top-rated in 2013

reDiscover Center, Los Angeles, CA

reDiscover Center promotes creativity and encourages environmental responsibility. They recycle everyday discards donated by businesses and turn them into hands-on learning materials. reDiscover is a community art center, reuse warehouse, and gallery.

What they’re saying
reDiscover is one of those hidden gems – a mission-driven organization that shares its resources and expertise with the entire community, children and adults alike. Their tireless search for, and wildly creative use of, usual and unusual recyclable materials forces the child/parent/teacher to rethink – and rediscover – the joy of creating. The work they do with schools is invaluable – really, no one offers the kind of thoughtful art and science activities they do, whether they’re doing children’s workshops or teacher training. I can’t recommend reDiscover highly enough.”

Top-Rated:  GreatNonprofits top-rated in 2012

Stewardship: It’s never too young to start

Baltimore Woods Nature Center

Baltimore Woods Nature Center, Marcellus, NY

Baltimore Woods Nature Center, sponsors opportunities for kids to learn about nature in their own backyard, from dragonfly migration to wildflowers and their uses in cooking and medicine (and that’s just in one week’s list of events).

What they are saying:

My kids have enjoyed hundreds of hours in this beautiful place. They have learned about nature and developed a true respect, as well as, a sense of responsibility, for it. And this was all taught in the most agreeable of ways, truly by example. The staff at Baltimore Woods all share the most profound love of nature and it is so appealing that you just want to be a part of that world.

Top-Rated:  GreatNonprofits top-rated in 2010

The Nature Generation, Arlington, VA

The Nature Generation is “…an environmental public charity that inspires and empowers youth to make a difference. We reach our nation’s youth through innovative environmental stewardship programs in literature, science and the arts.”

What they are saying
I am a 6th grade student who went to the water-testing event on the Chapman DeMary Trail. I learned a lot about how we can tell if the creek water is clean and why it is important for everyone to help.

Top-Rated:  GreatNonprofits top-rated in 2013

Children’s Nature Institute, Los Angeles, CA

Children’s Nature Institute aims “…to educate children, families, and their communities through interactive experiences with nature and to inspire respect, responsibility and a connection to the natural environment.”

What they’re saying
We work with the youngest at-risk, underserved children who have had little or no connection with nature and do not understand their role in the natural world. We work at their schools and on the trail (a first experience for most). Seeing, touching, feeling nature nurtures an understanding and respect that will help them learn and help them respect others and the world around them.

Check out programs at your local science museum

Are you still looking for inspiration? Perhaps a local museum has hands-on environmental programs and events for kids.

Image compliments of Explorit Science Center

Explorit Science Center, Davis, CA

Explorit Science Center’s mission is “To ignite and foster curiosity about science and nature through inquiry and discovery.”

What they’re saying
Explorit’s Summer Science Camp is just one of the amazing programs that is sure to keep your children wanting more science! This summer was the first summer my son attended summer camp… He would talk to me the rest of the day about what he learned and why things happen. My many thanks to Explorit and their staff for engaging our children in learning, questioning, discovery and building a sense of self confidence in our future leaders.

Top-Rated:  GreatNonprofits top-rated in 2012.

Academy of Natural Science at Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA

The Academy of Natural Sciences runs a diverse education program which includes outreach presentations for schools and communities, auditorium shows for families, Head Start instruction for teachers, family field trips with Academy scientists, adults-only environmental workshops, and the acclaimed Women In Natural Sciences program for Philadelphia high school girls.

What they are saying
The Academy of NS is an awesome institution. They are in the business of spreading goodwill and knowledge about our world. Everyone who works there is interesting. Everyone works hard. They’ve been great role models for me.

Are you an educator or therapist?

Don’t overlook nonprofits that offer programs or materials that can assist your work with students and clients. Here are two great sources:

Image compliments of Mojave Environmental Education

Mojave Environmental Education, Victorville, CA

The mission of Mojave Environmental Education is to improve the environmental literacy of students, teachers and the community of the Mojave Desert region. It offers free teacher workshops, field trip grants, classroom presentations, STEM career mentors, classroom grants, essay contests, Youth Environmental Leadership Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) conference to promote environmental stewardship through student lead community projects.

What they are saying
This is one of the best sources to find help with environmental curriculum, materials, and teacher professional development in the high desert. It has provided workshops for me as a teacher as well as workshops for my students. Every one of their events has been a success.

Top-Rated:  GreatNonprofits top-rated in 2013

Extras for Creative Learning, Dorchester, MA

The mission of Extras for Creative Learning is to stimulate creative learning and help children awaken their creative potential in education and play through the use of reusable, recycled, and surplus material.

What they’re saying
Extras for Creative Learning is an amazing resource for my work as a child therapist. I can get tremendous amounts of materials for my clients to use in creative, therapeutic work.  I find EXCL the most fantastic place to shop. Every time I know I am headed in that direction I begin to get excited, because I know I will leave with a treasure-trove of materials for my students to use. YAY for EXCL!!!

Are you ready to go?

Earth Day is April 22. Why not plan an outdoor event with your kids that will move, excite, or inspire you…and maybe help save the earth at the same time!

Special thanks to our contributing writer, Kathryn Maclaury.