April 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 26

EQUITY

Virtual volunteer events offer a low-barrier
way to engage people from communities
of color, members of the LGBTQ+
community and other groups that are often
underrepresented on public lands.

Using Virtual Volunteering to
Engage Diverse Communities
By Tony Richardson

T

he coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic fundamentally changed the
way U.S. residents were able to engage with public lands. From
iconic national parks to local urban green spaces, physical distancing requirements meant that many public lands would not be able
to host in-person outreach and community engagement events. This had a
significant impact on nationally recognized events like National Public Lands
Day (NPLD) - one of the nation's largest single-day volunteer efforts.
In response to physical distancing
requirements, the National Environmental Education Foundation
(NEEF) launched the NPLD virtual
event sponsorship. The sponsorship
was designed to support innovative
virtual events that connect the public
to local parks, national forests and
other public lands and waters during
the annual NPLD celebration. These
events served as a great alternative
for park professionals who were uncomfortable with in-person events;

26	 Parks & Recreation

or who were not allowed to host inperson events due to physical distancing requirements in their area.

What Is Virtual
Volunteering?
Virtual volunteering refers to volunteer activities completed, in
whole or in part, using the internet
and a computer or other internetconnected device, such as a smartphone or tablet. It allows anyone
with internet access to contribute

| A P R I L 2 02 1 | PA R K S A N D R E C R E AT I O N .O R G

time and expertise to nonprofit
organizations, land management
agencies and other entities that utilize volunteer services.
Park professionals and land
managers from across the country are beginning to turn to virtual
volunteer activities to connect diverse audiences to their public land
sites. This type of volunteering has
helped land management agencies
cultivate community support - especially in times of great disruption, such as COVID-19.

Connecting to Diverse
Communities
While NEEF originally launched
this sponsorship opportunity to
support safe and physically distant
activities on NLPD, we learned that



April 2021 - Parks & Recreation

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of April 2021 - Parks & Recreation

April 2021 - Parks & Recreation - Cover1
April 2021 - Parks & Recreation - Cover2
April 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 1
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April 2021 - Parks & Recreation - Cover3
April 2021 - Parks & Recreation - Cover4
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/july-2022
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/june-2022
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/may-2022
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/april-2022
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/march-2022
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/february-2022
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/january-2022
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/december-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/november-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/october-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/september-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/august-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/july-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/june-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/may-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/april-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/march-2021
https://www.nxtbookmedia.com