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5 Fun Ways You Can Help the Environment

Volunteer activities can make Earth greener

5. Park it with the National Park Service

You can help preserve our natural and cultural heritage through a National Park Service program called Volunteers-In-Parks (VIPs). With a $100 million budget cut in 2011 and about $11 billion in backlogged maintenance needs, the country's national park system is in dire need of help.

The VIP force helps professional park rangers throughout our 390 national parks, from Civil War battlefields in the Shenandoah Valley to Yellowstone in Wyoming. As a VIP, you might guide nature walks, lead campfires for tourists, help conserve archaeological artifacts or even patrol the parks.

And if the parks are a bit too — well, cultivated — for your taste, consider checking out similar backcountry opportunities with the U.S. Forest Service.

Time: A few hours per month (minimum) to full time (maximum).

Consider this: See the websites below for official applications.

Gear: Will vary depending on the work.

Contact: National Park Service, 202-208-3818; U.S. Forest Service, 800-832-1355

This article was originally published April 20, 2011

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