How do you get involved and find the right conservation group?
What is the best way to get involved? First, think about an animal or plant you love. Who could not love this red wolf pup?
Then, do some research as to what organizations support your plant or animal. Maybe it is a land preservation group, an animal sanctuary or your local zoo/nature center. For red wolves, we found multiple organizations just by googling red wolves.
Next step, sign up for an organization’s newsletter and look at their website. You may find other animals you love. For example, the NC Zoo helps protect both red wolves and hellbenders (both of which we love!). Here you have a newsletter from the American Bird Conservancy which has a lot of cool bird news.
If possible attend an interesting lecture or workshop being given by the organization. We have been to bat house building, moss growing, salamander identification workshops and many more. All in our local community.
And maybe the group sponsors hikes or animal encounter walks you can join. It is a great way to get outdoors & meet like-minded neighbors. Plus if you get lost, you have company!
What Is the Mission of the Organization?
Next, ask “what is the mission of the conservation group”? Do you share similar values? We really liked the folks at a reptile conservation center but decided not to partner with them. Why? Because we learned several board members are big game trophy hunters which does not match our values.
One of the groups we do support is the NC Zoo whose mission is to “protect nature’s diversity”. While you might not think a zoo & conservation go together, the NC Zoo’s wildlife conservation programs span the globe. They are protecting a variety of species including gorillas, red wolves, vultures, elephants and even Puerto Rican crested toads.
If You Donate Money, Will It Be Used Wisely?
As a good friend advises, follow the money! If you can’t follow the money, then something may be amiss. We donated to a national bat conservation center without doing all the proper homework. Shortly after our donation, the charity was disbanded and all the money had vanished. It was a very painful lesson, but we learned a lot from the experience.
We research Charity Navigator or other charity rating groups to understand the financials of the organization. With Charity Navigator, a 4-star rating is best, then 3 stars and on down. Some organizations will not be rated so you will need to dig further. Another consideration? Is the organization a 501(c)(3), or non-profit so the donation is tax-deductible?
Doing your homework is important. And don’t be afraid to ask questions. You have a right to understand how your money (or time) is being used.
Get Involved In Volunteering
Next, you might look into volunteer opportunities if you have time to commit. One of our local land preservation organizations, Conserving Carolina, has great volunteer programs in which you can get involved. You might help eradicate invasive plants from forests or work on trail maintenance. In our case, installing hellbender nest boxes in local streams was lots of fun and a great learning experience. Plus you feel a sense of accomplishment.
But wait, what the heck is a hellbender? Learn about these wonderful creatures on our Did You Know page.
Share Your Passion
And finally, help spread the word. Share your passion, experiences and knowledge with your friends and everyone who will listen.
Let others know you support an organization. If you are working with a group to help save owls (and you can learn more about owls on our Did You Know page) post interesting facts about them on social media. You can also share how your group is helping protect them.
You can find tons of free photos on sites like Pixabay and Unsplash for your posts. Google the animal’s name to learn more about it.
By sharing your passion, you help others fall in love with nature and get involved.
Looking for a conservation group to support?
Check out Organizations We Support.