Fun in the sun with purpose!


Ideas to get involved while getting outside

By Leah Hess Victorino

It goes without saying that Idahoans are an outdoorsy bunch, but did you know we’re near the top of the list for volunteerism? A National Recreation Economy Report ranks Idaho as the state with the third highest percentage (79%) of their population that participates in outdoor recreation activities, and according to the Corporation for National and Community Service, Idaho hovers between top five and top ten in the nation for volunteering. People around here not only love to play on those hiking and mountain biking trails, they’ll also invest in efforts to preserve and maintain them.

As the weather warms up and you fill your activities calendar, consider booking some hours outdoors with a local community benefit organization (CBO, or nonprofit). Whether you’re a seasoned volunteer interested in new opportunities or a potential new recruit ready to give back, the Treasure Valley’s strong network of CBOs has a place for your time and talents. For those generous folks who aren’t up for a volunteer commitment, you’ll find a few outdoor events where you can participate and provide financial support.

The Boise area has a multitude of ways to get outside and get involved. Here is just a sampling of activities to suit varying interests with two things in common: being outdoors and contributing to a cause. Check out these recommendations to uplift your community while taking in the summer breeze.


  1. Most volunteer programs require orientation or training, and such activities may be suspended due to COVID-19.
  2. These featured organizations have 501(c)(3) designation, which means in addition to or in lieu of donating your time, any funds that you donate are tax-deductible.

Walk the dog

Why not stretch your legs and stroll with a shelter dog while you’re at it? The Idaho Humane Society has plenty of pups wanting to get of their kennels. Volunteering here can be flexible, convenient, and inclusive–open to youth (age 12-15) and people with special needs with an accompanying adult. As their site reads, “once you become a volunteer and take the correct skills classes, you’re all set to come and get to work!” Drop into one of their outdoor play areas and make a furry friend. Read more at

Nuture the Nature Center

The Idaho Fish and Game MK Nature Center, located down near the Boise River, gives visitors a glimpse at the land and water habitats and wildlife of our great state. Volunteers contribute greatly to the educational offerings such as guided tours, as well as gardening and landscaping duties. If you have a green thumb, put it to use planting, weeding, pruning, and even working in the butterfly and hummingbird garden. Butterflies, hummingbirds, and serving the community sound like the makings of a magical experience. Visit to learn more. Find Friends of MK Nature Center, the affiliated 501(c)(3) entity here:

Raise the roof

The vision of Habitat for Humanity International is “a world where everyone has a decent place to live.” Our local Boise Valley Habitat for Humanity carries out the global mission by allowing homeowners to participate in building their own home and setting a mortgage that they can afford. As a construction volunteer, put yourself to work under the guidance of construction professionals and work alongside future homeowners as they put “sweat equity” into their homes. Visit to get oriented and get outside on a build this summer!

Grab those goatheads

Boise Bicycle Project has inspired locals in a collective effort to eradicate the enemy of all bikers, walkers, dog paws: goatheads. This tormentor emerges in the end of April into May, which is prime time to begin collecting them throughout trails and parks because the goathead nutlet is still green and easier to pull from the ground. Bring a heavy-duty trash bag, gardening tools and gloves, and get picking! For best methods, watch this video: Take your action a step further, weigh how much you’ve picked and email your total!

Give on the green

If golf is your game, you’re in luck. You’ll find charity golf tournaments throughout the year at area golf courses that give you a good excuse to get out on the links.

Upcoming golf fundraisers include:

·         Engineers Without Borders Scramble: Friday, July 31, 2020 at Eagle Hills Golf Course. Register:

Proceeds benefit EWB Treasure Valley chapter’s project to design and install a clean water system in an indigenous community in the Peruvian jungle.

·         HOPE Scramble for The Speedy Foundation, Saturday, May 30, 2020 at Warm Springs Golf Course in Boise. Register:

The Speedy Foundation has a mission to prevent suicide, promote conversations to end stigma, and support mental health education.

Purposeful patio parties

A handful of Boise’s breweries host events to socialize with substance. This recommendation for an outdoor giving activity is about as light on the activity level as they come, but perhaps you could use a cold one after walking dogs and building homes.

These all-ages establishments have outdoor spaces where you can enjoy sunshine, a beverage, and learn about the community benefit organizations. Have a “benefit beer,” or a few, because on these nights, the bigger your tab, the bigger your contribution!

·         Kegs for Kause: each Monday 6-10PM, Payette Brewing donates 50% of proceeds to a different. See calendar of beneficiaries here:
·         Powerful Pints: every second Tuesday half of the proceeds go to a cause + $2 from a designated tap all week. Find the current recipient here:

Invent your own involvement

Being outdoors and engaging in your community creates a winning combination that leaves feeling good with doing good. Supporting the aforementioned causes is a great way to make a difference, but could you “unofficially” contribute to the world on your next outing? Get creative and see what you get out of giving back!

·         Take a Greenbelt river littler cleanup walk (pack gloves and a trash bag)
·         Hold a lemonade stand fundraiser for your favorite cause in a local park
·         Build a little lending library (not just for books anymore)