This is a topic that is really special to me because “I personally believe” (wink wink) that it is important to give back. “Giving back” can come in all shapes and forms. For me, being a Master Gardener and in the process of becoming a Master Naturalist, a volunteer for Autism and Special Education forums, I have my plate full. The point isn’t that you spread yourself so thin that you are wiped out and over extended. It is that you are choosing programs or volunteer opportunities you are passionate about. I think there is no better place to begin to volunteer than with, and for Mother Nature.
Obviously, I am a professional Gardener, Designer blah blah.,but the fact is that the Master Gardener and Master Naturalist organizations are wonderful opportunities for ANYONE interested in gardening and nature. The educational opportunities through these programs are fantastic and the people you meet,the challenges you face and the opportunities to make a difference in your community is priceless. Win win.
As for the Special education volunteering, of course, I have mentioned previously that I have an Autistic son and the opportunity to volunteer is as self serving as it is beneficial to others. Aside from being able to reach out to other parents struggling with their paths of treatment, education, what have you, which is incredibly rewarding, I am also able to speak on the benefits of gardening, being with nature, and the free therapy that is available to those who spend a little more time outside and away from it all. This is why I chose this topic, the therapy you will get while doing good.
It has been said by some very wise people, that you get back so much more than you give when you give of yourself, and that is incredibly true. The feeling of accomplishment you get from a day of selflessness is addictive. However, It isn’t necessary that you donate any more time than you are capable of giving, again, it should be a source of pleasure and fulfillment, not an obligation. For example, this year I am considering giving up my Master Gardener certification to be able to spend more time in other arena’s. Sometimes you get and give what you can from a project or commitment and it is time to move on.
To find some less “organized” volunteer opportunities you might consider helping an elderly neighbor with a need for help in the garden,or you could volunteer to create a meditation garden at a retirement home, you would be amazed by the awesome stories our seniors can tell us, or equally awesome for you beginners, offer to help an experienced gardener neighbor who can teach you in the process.
If you have school aged children, you could volunteer to start a garden in the school yard, veggies, herbs, cutting flowers, something that the kiddo’s can eat will get them interested in gardening while creating a little magic with your child in the process. You could get your church involved in a beautification project, or start a community garden for your congregation, or your neighborhood. Start a Garden/Veggie swap (see Swap /Coop blog) and offer to host the event to get the program started in your community, or plant a garden bed for the neighborhood to get involved in. You could get certified on wildlife habitats and volunteer to teach your friends, neighbors, church, school, co-workers and family members. Perhaps you already have a special gardening skill you could share with others, such as composting, a knowledge of native plants, what have you.
There are endless ways to volunteer in the garden community. Giving back to nature while replacing the lost tree’s, plants and homes for wildlife is a rewarding way to insure that the nature we have enjoyed in our lifetimes will be here for our ancestors. It will get you involved in your community in a meaningful and beneficial way.
Now go do some good!!!
Lisa’s Landscape & Design
“Saving the Planet One Yard at a Time”