Volunteer Opportunities in the Great Outdoors Near Greenville, SC

Are you looking for ways to volunteer your time in the great outdoors near Greenville, SC? With the mantra of “give back to places you love” guiding our family’s approach to volunteer work, we have discovered there are plenty of opportunities to invest your time into the outdoor spaces and places you care about. Here are some of the volunteer stewardship opportunities in the Upstate, and how to get involved in the protection of our shared lands!

Planting with Trees Upstate and Save Our Saluda

Outdoor Places to Volunteer Close to Greenville

The Greater Greenville Parks Foundation created the Park Heroes program to get some love for our public spaces. When you sign up to be a Park Hero, you will join other like-minded people who share a love of public lands and giving back; Register online to receive notification as volunteer opportunities arise.

Spartanburg County Parks has a similar program; the first step in helping to make the parks, community centers, and programs of Spartanburg the best they can be, is to complete the form on the Parks Department website.

Build bluebird boxes, participate in clean-ups, remove invasive species or contribute with observations for Lake Conestee Nature Preserve! Whether you and your family are interested in adopting a trail or just want to be kept in the loop about future volunteer events, visit the website and fill out the volunteer application!

TreesUpstate volunteers have helped plant over 10,000 trees in parks, schools, and neighborhoods throughout Greenville and Spartanburg Counties. Tree planting season starts back up in October and runs through March, so be sure to check back towards the end of summer for their schedule. Our family recently helped TreesUpstate plant native trees and shrubs in northern Greenville county; it was really cool knowing we were helping to protect the watershed for future generations!

Another website to keep your eye on is United Way’s Hands On Greenville. Hands On Greenville Day is the largest day of service for the state of South Carolina and usually takes place in late April or May. Volunteers spread throughout Greenville and surrounding areas to repair cabins at campgrounds for the disabled, paint playground equipment and murals at our public schools, landscape the grounds of local shelters, and beautify nearby state and city parks. Companies and organizations can create teams to participate and are rewarded with knowing they’ve helped make a difference in our community.

Volunteering for the Greenville Zoo has many opportunities available, including volunteering with guest services and horticulture. Teens interested in volunteer opportunities such as being a zookeeper assistant and horticultural volunteer should check the website every so often for new posts.

Pulling invasive species (left) and Park Cleanup with Friends of Reedy River

Riverkeepers: Volunteer on the Water

Friends of the Reedy River hosts two large, public cleanups per year – one in the spring & one in the fall. FORR can also provide assistance for private cleanups for small businesses, organizations, and community groups; find out more and sign up here on the Friends of Reedy River website.

Save Our Saluda’s mission is to protect and restore the Upper Saluda Watershed through education and increased awareness of the watershed, water resource issues, and the need to help protect our rivers. Save Our Saluda often partners with other local conservation organizations; we planted native trees and shrubs along a tributary to the Saluda River a couple of months ago, with Save Our Saluda in cooperation with TreesUpstate, which was a very rewarding and also educational experience. Volunteers also assist with live staking, kudzu control, and trash removal. For events and other information visit their website Save Our Saluda or contact them at [email protected].

The Chattooga Conservancy protects the watershed of the Chattooga River, and you can get involved in one of their ongoing projects or join them for trash pick-ups. You can check their Chattooga Conservancy website for current info.

Have children interested in environmental issues, or know kids who love citizen science? South Carolina Adopt-a-Stream might be the program to look into! A network of watershed stewardship, engagement, and education through involvement, volunteers play an important role in monitoring and tracking water quality while sharing information about local water resources with their communities. We help monitor two creeks near our home, and while the data collection aspect of this opportunity requires adult participation, my older kids help with everything from collecting water samples to making scientific measurements. Find out more here: The SC Adopt-a-Stream Program | Clemson University

Adopt a Waterfall with Waterfall Keepers of North Carolina! While we wish South Carolina had an organization similar to this one in NC, there are plenty of waterfalls within an easy drive of the Upstate that need to be adopted! You can learn more from our recent Waterfall Keepers or North Carolina or on the Waterfall Keepers website. Read KAG contributor Kristina’s account of participating in a Waterfall Sweep here: Working to Keep Our Waterfalls and Trails Beautiful with Waterfall Keepers of North Carolina.

Botanical Gardens That Rely on Volunteers

Hatcher Garden calls their volunteers the Hearts of Hatcher, because “that’s what they give each time they visit”! Whether it’s working in the garden, helping the office, or walking the paths as a tour guide, volunteers keep Hatcher Garden growing with their time, talent, and expertise – learn more at the Hatcher Garden website.

The South Carolina Botanical Garden offers volunteer opportunities, typically Monday through Friday, that any ability or skill level can accomplish! Learn more about volunteering in the garden at Clemson University to find an opportunity that resonates with your passion.

Community Pickups

Palmetto Pride fights litter in South Carolina addressing prevention through education, supporting enforcement, connecting community groups to resources, and mobilizing volunteers. Get involved with one of their pickup events or programs!

Keep Greenville County Beautiful has a wide range of volunteer opportunities including environmental art, planting native species, litter cleanups, and community garden assistance. Find out more on their website. Use the Litter Ends Here App to find out about volunteer opportunities, report areas that need to be picked up, and earn rewards for your efforts!

Oconee County has a similar organization, the Keep Oconee County Beautiful Commission, as does Pickens County and Spartanburg County. With the proper equipment and supervision, litter pickups can be attended by kids of all ages – find your local organization, or just pack a bag on your next hiking trip! Litter is a growing problem in the Upstate – let’s do our part in fighting it! Heading Outdoors? Practice “Leave No Trace” With These Dos and Don’ts)

Trail construction with Conserving Carolina

Conservancies

Conserving Carolina has helped to protect nearly 46,000 acres, from the waterfalls of DuPont State Forest to the rock faces of Hickory Nut Gorge, and in SC serves the Landrum area including parts of Greenville and Spartanburg Counties. If you are a parent who wants your child to experience the wonders of nature, one way to do that is to get involved with Conserving Carolina. My kids love Conserving Carolina volunteer days; Not only do they get to use cool tools when building trails and removing invasive species, but they get to hike really cool trails with the knowledgeable and friendly Conserving Carolina crew who teach them the names of plants and animals, find salamanders for them, and show them all the best spots! Check out all the volunteering options on their website.

There are multiple ways to volunteer with the Foothills Trail Conservancy, but trail maintenance is the main focus. As the Foothills Trail stretches from Table Rock State Park to Oconee State Park, there are 77 miles that can use your help! For more information about volunteering, please contact [email protected] or visit the Foothills Trail website.

The Palmetto Trail has passages in Oconee, Greenville, and Spartanburg counties (and goes all the way to Charleston), so this is another opportunity to get involved on trail workdays. Find out more and sign up here: Volunteer – Palmetto Conservation Foundation.

Upstate Forever is a nonprofit conservation organization that protects critical lands, waters, and the unique character of Upstate South Carolina. Currently, they are offering two categories of volunteering work: event volunteers and stewardship visits. If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, please visit the Upstate Forever website.

Volunteering with conservation organizations here in the Upstate has really proved to be a way for our family to get outdoors, grow together, and at the same time give back to some of the organizations protecting the wild places that we’ve fallen in love with. As a mother, I feel it is important to motivate and educate a nation of outdoor advocates, to take care of the places we share and cherish. And as a citizen of the Upstate, I feel it is imperative that we reverse the negative trends that are impacting the natural areas. Now tell me – what’s your favorite place to volunteer outdoors?

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