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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Celebrate and Get Involved on Parks Appreciation Day

Don't miss out on the fun this weekend. Between 9:00 and 12:00 Saturday morning, April 18, 2009, Metro Parks Tacoma is holding four celebrations in one. Earth Day, Arbor Day, National Park Week, and recognition of our wonderful local parks are each reason enough for a special event, but here in Tacoma and Pierce County they're combined into one big party on Parks Appreciation Day, now in its eighth year. No matter where you live in this area there's a park near you where volunteers of all ages will gather to help prune, clean up trails and beaches, and plant flowers and trees. Here's a perfect chance to get out of the house, involve children in a meaningful activity, meet new friends, make a real contribution and have FUN!

Every year the events grow in size and scope and Nancy Johnson, Communications Manager of Metro Parks Tacoma, is excited about new developments:

This year, we are doing a schools challenge. Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium will bring a live animal ambassador to the school with the highest participation. The keeper and animal will visit each classroom that has the greatest participation for their grade level. As with other groups of 10 or more, large school groups that plan to participate should pre-register by and/or calling 253-305-1060. When they check in,they also need to sign in on the Tacoma Schools clipboard to make sure their volunteer time is credited to their school.
One of our goals at Metro Parks Tacoma is to reconnect children with the natural world, so pairing participation in Parks Appreciation Day with the reward of an educational visit from the zoo helps kids to recognize the important ways they are helping nature when they volunteer in parks.

Last year over 2,000 volunteers contributed 6,000 hours throughout the county. They planted about 2,300 plants, filled over 200 bags of litter, and spread hundreds of yards of mulch, chips and gravel. If tax payers had paid for all that work its value would have exceeded $90,000. But what about the value you can measure in numbers? What about the values we teach our children? What about the pride of place and sense of community these activities can build?

Click on these links to view a list of local Contact Organizations, and a list of Park Sites. If you plan to bring a large group please call ahead to let the organizers know to expect you. If you're coming as an individual or with your family just show up at the park of your choice, appropriately dressed, and bringing along some helpful tools from home like clippers, loppers,rakes, shovels, gloves, etc. Even small wheelbarrows, marked with names, are welcome. Don't forget to bring a smile and sense of fun too. The folks at Metro Parks Tacoma appreciate the help of citizens and want everyone to have a great time. Johnson says:
"This year's participants will receive 2-for-1 coupons to their choice of Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium or Northwest Trek -- two great places to reconnect with our role as stewards of the planet!"

Here at Good Life Northwest I love pointing out the positive, like how lucky we are to live in this region where so many people care about the environment. It makes me proud of our city, community groups, individuals, and corporate sponsors who get behind such worthwhile projects. Since I live in Tacoma, I'm focusing on this area, but similar events are happening all over the country. Just check with your local city government or parks department.

I can't imagine a world without parks, but some of us take them for granted. In these tough economic times volunteerism is more important than ever. Let's appreciate what we have, including each other.

If you click here you can see a list of other Pierce County Earth Day activities.

Photos are from Parks Appreciation Day 2008 and are courtesy of Metro Parks Tacoma.

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