Little Miss Sunshine

Get outside and help others

More than 5,000 volunteers help clean up the American River Parkway each year.

More than 5,000 volunteers help clean up the American River Parkway each year.

Photo courtesy of The american river parkway foundation

Being out in the sun is linked to happier moods, and so is giving back. There are so many organizations that need a helping hand, and each offers unique opportunities to care for Sacramento’s lush nature trails, parks and creeks. Here are a few to get started:

The American River Parkway Foundation

Whether it’s volunteering during one of the foundation’s events, fixing or painting picnic tables, cleaning up trash or removing invasive plant species, it’s all possible along the American River Parkway. With more than 5,000 volunteers a year, executive director Dianna Poggetto believes residents show that they want to give back to this great resource located in Sacramento’s urban core. “At the parkway, you can run, ride a bike or a horse, or you have a picnic and just be out in nature,” she says. “There are studies that show how great just being out in nature is to your overall health and psyche.”

For a list of volunteer opportunities and events visit 5700 Arden Way; (916) 486-2773.

Oak Park Art Garden

Located on the corner of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and 14th Avenue is the new Oak Park community art garden. Project coordinator Randy Stannard says the concept is a neighborhood-built, edible park. On site are 25 growing fruit trees, with plans to keep adding more perennial food plants as well as herbs. It’s also a public arts space, with original pieces created by neighborhood residents. Stannard says volunteer opportunities include mulching pathways and trees, picking up trash, painting fences and creating art. “It’s a great opportunity for the community and the neighborhood to work together to create a unique and dynamic space that is flexible,” Stannard says. “It can be whatever we want it to be.” (530) 204-8082.

Bureau of Land Management

Join Cosumnes River Preserve as it hosts an array of events with volunteer opportunities. On June 15, volunteers will catch and release nature’s fluttering butterflies for science. The preserve is home to California’s largest remaining valley oak riparian forest, and is one of the state’s few protected wetland habitat areas, according to Jesse Pluim, public affairs specialist with the BLM. The preserve includes more than 46,000 acres of Central Valley grasslands, vernal pools, wetlands and valley oak forests.

Contact the Bureau of Land Management California State Office at (916) 978-4617 for more information on times and locations.