Green Columbus is giving residents plenty of ways to participate in Earth Day activities across central Ohio.
The nonprofit organization will offer an abundance of service opportunities from April 19-26. Volunteers can help plant trees, establish community gardens, remove trash from neighborhoods, clean up riverbanks and remove invasive plant species from parks.
Tad Dritz, founder of Green Columbus, which has organized the past eight Earth Day events, said he's been impressed by the outpouring of community support.
"The first year, our hope was to get 500 volunteers; we got 1,500 volunteers," he said. "Then, last year, we had 3,600 volunteers."
Those who would like to participate can go to earthdaycolumbus.org and choose their service project.
Dritz said volunteers should remember to dress appropriately. And although some supplies will be provided, people are encouraged to bring gloves, garden tools and other equipment, he said.
From 9 a.m. to noon April 19, volunteers will be prepping the space at Fourth Street Farms, a community garden in Weinland Park.
Evelyn Van Til, the garden's community manager, said they will install seating in a pergola toward the center of the garden, prepare the garden for planting and work on a composting pile.
"We'll be getting our hands in the soil, enjoying the outside and each other's company, and making a difference in the community," Van Til said.
Laura Fay, secretary of Friends of the Lower Olentangy Watershed, or FLOW, said that group will be organizing several events for Earth Day, including a planting session from 10 a.m. to noon April 19 at Clinton-Como Park, 301 W. Pacement Road.
A second planting event from 9 a.m. to noon April 26 will take place at a conservation easement on the Ohio School for the Deaf property, 500 Morse Road.
She credits both Green Columbus and the Battelle River and Stream Team for turning out volunteers and donations for Earth Day events, which have drawn lots of eager participants.
"It's really inspirational," she said.
This year's Earth Day theme is "gratitude," and volunteers will be rewarded for their hard work.
Businesses such as Chipotle, Max & Erma's, Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams and Pattycake Vegan Bakery will show their appreciation by offering free samples or gift cards from their businesses. The Gateway Film Center will hand out movie passes.
More appreciation will be shown from noon to 10 p.m. April 26, when a party celebrating the week's efforts will be held at Columbus Commons downtown. The event, free and open to the public, will feature children's areas, live music, food trucks and information from environmental groups. It will be a zero-waste event, meaning everything will be recycled or composted.
"It will be a festival to celebrate all the good work that was done," Dritz said.