Ask Eartha: How can my kids get outdoors and give back to our community?

 In Ask Eartha

Dear Eartha, It’s the last week of school! I’m excited for my kids to spend quality time outdoors this summer, but I’d also like them to give back to the community. Do you have any suggestions? – Carly, Dillon

Carly, what a great idea! Volunteering is an excellent habit to instill in young people, and it has lots of benefits, – not only for the organization but also for the volunteer! Equally important, volunteering can help develop important environmental and civic values in your children, and we need those values to help create more sustainable local and global communities.

Values and Volunteerism

Volunteering isn’t just good for the community and the organization, it’s good for the volunteer as well! Research shows that that youth who participate in volunteer activities have higher moral standards, higher self-esteem, more empathy, and more emotional stability than non-volunteers.

Even better, volunteers – no matter the age – are more likely to develop good civic skills and to hold serving the public interest as a personal life goal. In this way, volunteering cultivates citizens who believe in the well-being of everyone, not just themselves.

Finally, volunteering reinforces good behavior. You get warm fuzzies for helping other people or the planet, and those good feelings will keep you coming back for more. And if you spend time, say, teaching people how to recycle, you start to develop your own habits that will linger long after your volunteer stint has ended. Don’t forget, your kids watch you and learn from you. By showing them that you care and value giving back to the community, you reinforce these values and habits in them, too.

Be a Zero Hero

After considering all the benefits of volunteering, even I want to sign up for as much as I can this summer and be part of what makes this community so special. And we’re all in luck – there’s a huge opportunity next week!

Every year, Frisco hosts the BBQ Challenge – a multi-day festival full of all the BBQ you can imagine, pigraces, a 6k race, street performers, and more. But this event wouldn’t be possible without all the wonderful volunteers who help things run smoothly. So why not encourage some positive environmental and civic values by signing up for a shift as a zero waste attendant?

If you’re a regular Frisco BBQ attendee, you already know that Frisco is proud to host the BBQ as a zero waste event, proving that you can eat great food, have fun, and care for our beautiful mountain environment all at the same time. Each year, Frisco partners with High Country Conservation Center (HC3) to coordinate waste diversion logistics – from setting up recycling, food scrap, and garbage stations to organizing dozens of volunteers who help folks properly dispose of their waste.

As a zero waste attendant – a Zero Hero, if you will – you educate the public about proper recycling and composting practices. Some people will ask you questions about recycling and composting, others are content to let you sort their waste for them. Either way, zero waste volunteers are the heroes keeping the event (and our community) green by making sure we recycle and compost as much as possible.

HC3 still needs zero waste attendants for this year’s Frisco BBQ, especially Friday, June 14 (afternoon and evening) and Saturday, June 15 (afternoon). All volunteers receive a zero waste t-shirt, food and drink tickets, good karma, sunscreen, and training to answer all those recycling questions. To sign up, visit https://www.highcountryconservation.org/volunteer/.

Carly, getting kids engaged in community activities is an awesome way to build civic values. And, of course, I fully support encouraging proper recycling and composting habits. You could even challenge your kids to take the experience a step further – could they set up a zero waste station at home? How about presenting to your local town council about what they learned and the importance of setting zero waste event standards? Helping to create zero waste guidelines for schools? There are tons of opportunities for youth to don their Zero Hero capes – the BBQ is just the beginning.

Ask Eartha Steward is written by the staff at the High Country Conservation Center, a nonprofit organization dedicated to waste reduction and resource conservation. Submit questions to Eartha at info@highcountryconservation.org.

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