Have some time to give? Here are a few places to consider giving your time (beyond picking up trash):

FIGHT THE INVADERS: Nearly every land preserve struggles with beating back poison ivy or aggressive invasive species like Japanese knotweed or bittersweet. It’s tough work and as Maria Jenness of the Maine Island Trail Association says, “the more hands, the better.” If you’re willing to get dirty, this job is for you. Jenness has a work day scheduled on a privately owned island in Penobscot Bay on July 12. Target: Japanese barberry. Write to stewards@mita.org for more information or visit MITA’s events calendar for dates of upcoming work days.

GO DOWN EAST: Southern and Midcoast Maine have a good volunteer base for beach cleanups (the most popular form of volunteering for most land trusts) but Down East, where the population base thins out, groups like Maine Coast Heritage Trust or Healthy Acadia could definitely use some help. “The folks down there tend to be a group that work seven days a week just to put food on the table,” said Caitlin Gerber, “so they don’t have as much time. That is also the part of the state where we have the most acreage, so there is always a need (for volunteers).” Bonus: getting to see a new part of the coast. Fill out the online form at the land trust’s website to learn more and see below for more information on Healthy Acadia.

GO JUMP IN A LAKE: When your coastline is as famous as ours, it tends to be an attention grabber. But Maine’s inland lakes – we’ve got more than 3,000 of them – are equally in need of citizen scientists to take on tasks from monitoring water quality to screening for invasive aquatic plants and animals. The Maine Volunteer Lake Monitoring Program, which has been in place for more than 40 years, has about 1,300 active volunteers working on about 450 of Maine’s lakes, but could always use more. Visit the Maine Volunteer Lake Monitoring Program’s website (mainevlmp.org) for more information on signing up.

EYES ON THE ISLANDS: Caitlin Gerber from the Maine Coast Heritage Trust says she has a particularly hard time finding stewardship volunteers who are willing and able to take their boat to islands to check in on preserves – from power boat to kayak, whatever gets you there. She wants a report on what’s happening out there, eyes on the ground. These gigs are just for the summer, and “if I can even find people to report back biweekly in July and August, I feel very fortunate.” Visit mcht.org for more information and to access a signup page about volunteering opportunities.

TALK THE TALK: Maine Farmland Trust could use help getting the word out about programs like Harvest Bucks, which benefit both low-income Mainers who receive federal food aid and local farmers, by offering deals on local produce and groceries to EBT users and making sure farmers get properly compensated. What does it take? A willingness to go out into the community and tell people how the program works. The land trust calls these volunteers its ambassadors, and volunteer coordinator Caroline Ginsberg could use a few more of them. “These are the areas where it is harder to find volunteers, and it is really needed.”


CHAIN SAW GANG: Trail work is hard going. If you have a chain saw, chances are just about any land trust or conservation group in Maine would love to have your assistance, either in maintaining already established trails or cutting new ones. The Maine Appalachian Trail Club uses volunteers every June through August, working on everything from erosion control to taking measures to protect wetlands by building stone steps and bridges. Must be 18 or older. Email matc@gwi.net. Need something close to Portland? The South Portland Land Trust is having a Trail Care Day on July 16; write to sopolandtrust@gmail.com if you’re interested in cutting back vegetation, or replacing steps or bridges.

THE GLEANERS AND YOU: As the harvest comes in big in upcoming weeks, gleaning organizations throughout the state could use your help, especially if you can pick without much advance notice. The Merrymeeting Food Council’s food security group collected 14,000 pounds of unwanted fruits and vegetables last year, and they are on high alert for unexpected calls to come clear a field. Like the one they got last year from Pineland Farms to come harvest potatoes. Write to Lee Cataldo lee@btlt.org if you’re in the Midcoast area. Or reach out to Hannah Semler, who runs the Maine Gleaners Network (find it on Facebook) and see where you might be needed. She’s always looking for gleaners, particularly Down East residents – or those willing to make the drive there. Find more information about Down East gleaning opportunities by filling out the form at HealthyAcadia.org.

SIGNS OF THE SEASONS: The New England Phenology Program runs a program through the University of Maine Cooperative Extension called Signs of the Seasons, which uses volunteers to observe and record seasonal changes and thus, track the march of climate change. They’ve got 19 indicator species on their “watch” list, including the American toad, peepers and good old rockweed, and across the state at any given time, about 150 people recording their observations in an online data base. They could use more spotters, on land and water (the Maine Loon is among the species being tracked), says coordinator Esperanza Stancioff. Trainings are done for this season, but if you want to jump in this summer, check out the webinars on the Cooperative Extension’s Signs of the Season’s webpage.

ON THE ROAD AGAIN: The Bicycle Coalition of Maine has a simple goal: Make Maine better for biking and walking, activities that are a key part of the sustainability movement. The group is seeking volunteers to join its Community Spokes Program. Participants become local leaders, working on projects to improve biking (and walking) conditions via infrastructure, education and local programs. The Coalition holds trainings every May and November; put it on your fall calendar. Email sam@bikemaine.org for more information on becoming a spokes-person.

ONE AND YOU’RE DONE: So maybe this whole list sounds like more of a commitment than you’re ready for? If you’re in the greater Portland area, a group called Take Action Portland tracks events where people are needed to pitch in for a single occasion. It could be a day with a soup kitchen or food bank, or yes, a beach cleanup day, but Take Action Portland board member Sarah Lyman says the key is, “It is a one and done kind of thing.” For instance, Portland Trails has a work day on July 15, featured on the online calendar for Take Action Portland. That’s next weekend, if you feel like pitching in. Sign up for emails about events at TakeActionPortland.org

Mary Pols can be contacted at 791-6456 or at:


Twitter: MaryPols

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