Children of the Earth

Want to get your kids involved in conservation efforts? Here's how.

“As boring as Reno can get sometimes, we have a lot of really great opportunities that other places don’t have,” says 16-year-old Louis Bubala. Exploring the Black Rock Desert, for example.

“I love the playa,” he says. “I think it’s interesting how open it is, especially in the morning with the sunrise. You can see for miles. It’s completely flat.” No wonder that’s where he got into photography.

Louis has traveled to the playa and other spots in the Black Rock and High Rock Deserts—including Stevens Camp, Soldier Meadows and Pahute Peak—as a volunteer for Friends of Nevada Wilderness, along with his parents and two sisters, Maylyn, 8, and Zora, 10. He’s helped monitor hot springs, and he remembers tagging along with adults when he was younger as they built fences to protect things such as dunes, kit foxes and historic artifacts.

He started going to National Public Lands Day camping events when he was in kindergarten. He and his family have helped out at events held by the Bureau of Land Management and the Lahontan Audobon Society. The Bubalas have also collected seeds at Washoe Lake State Park, which would be used later to replant fire-damaged areas.

“My dad’s really into camping and outdoor stuff,” Louis says.

His dad, Lou, adds, “There’s nothing better than seeing the world as it naturally is. It provides a great change from the daily routine of life, giving me a chance to clear my mind and soul.”

He got hooked on volunteerism early on in life: “My parents took us all around the country on summer vacations, and I got to see a lot of amazing parks, mountains, forests, lakes and oceans. I decided I wanted to spend my extra time working to preserve and protect the outdoors.”

Naturally, he’s passed the habit down to his children.

All-ages environmentalism

Earth Day wasn’t your last chance to help the environment. The groups that work to protect Nevada’s wetlands, deserts and forests need a hand all year round. Here’s a sampling of volunteer opportunities for families. And if your kids’ busy lifestyles make it hard to commit to a weekend or an afternoon of outdoor work, some groups need help with tasks that can be done from a laptop.

Your own backyard — Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful

By combating illegal dumping, recycling Christmas trees and hosting cleanup events, Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful strives to do just what its name suggests. Young volunteers help clean up neighborhoods, rivers and open-space areas.

More info: 851-5185,

Upcoming event: Clean Safe School Cleanup, May 16

Armchair activism: KTMB recommends opting out of junk mail at to help reduce paper use.

Best place to start: Sign up online for KTMB’s newsletter to learn about volunteer dates.

Wild times — Friends of Nevada Wilderness

More info: 324-7667,

Upcoming events: Families can help restore the cabin at Stevens Camp in the High Rock Desert June 6 or pull noxious weeds at Hunter Creek June 13 and 17.

Armchair activism: Sign petitions and thank senators for acting to protecting wildlife species.

Best place to start: Get on the “enews” mailing list.

Seeds of change — The Nature Conservancy

Volunteers as young as 6 help with planting on the Truckee River. Spring planting season is coming to a close; summer dates may include events at Independence Lake Preserve and River Fork Ranch Preserve.

More info:,

Upcoming event: Events are often scheduled on short notice due to changing seasonal needs. Join the mailing list online for the most current information.

Best place to start: Follow “The Nature Conservancy in Nevada” on Facebook.