On April 22, people around the globe will once again honor our planet through annual Earth Day events. While this year's focus chosen by the Earth Day Network is eliminating plastic pollution, all activities that help protect our environment are welcomed and very much needed.
This year, PRA is partnering with EarthShare NC in their Corporate Earth Day Events Program. Here's more about it:
Last year, our PRA colleagues around the globe shared what they do every day to honor our planet: See their stories hereand here. And don’t miss some of the amazing worldwide photos they shared, showing how our planet inspires them.
Tell us a little bit about EarthShare NC — how it started and what your mission is.
EarthShare NC was created by 14 nonprofit organizations who were working to preserve the health of our natural environment, with the mission to bring more people to this work that is critical to the health of our communities and quality of life. Over 26 years, we have grown to 70 nonprofits working at the local, state, and national levels to ensure access to clean air and water, sustainable foods, and the natural spaces to support our quality of life.
What are your proudest accomplishments?
All of EarthShare NC’s organizations were created by a group of individuals who saw a need in their community and made it their job to find solutions. To continue this work, they need more people and resources to know about the cause and join in making an impact. EarthShare NC’s unique role is to partner with businesses to engage employees in the work of these organizations, and provide those fundamental needs. Introducing and connecting more than 10,000 people with the work of our members and raising $9.5 million in contributions is our proudest accomplishment.
How do you partner with local businesses?
EarthShare NC partners with local businesses to make a measurable impact. We develop custom engagement based on the company goals and culture. If a business wants to empower employees to be philanthropists, we support this goal through an employee giving program that allows employees to support the causes important to them. If team building, education, and skilled volunteerism are the goals of the business, we connect employees with Member nonprofits in those ways.
What impact do you think your efforts have had on the community?
Our Members can do more for their communities thanks to the people and resources that come from local businesses. They monitor our rivers and streams to ensure we have clean water, preserve local farms, educate individuals and decision-makers to be good stewards of our natural resources, prevent air pollution and its harmful health effects, protect wildlife and biodiversity, and offer educational and recreational programming to youth to raise a new generation of North Carolinians who enjoy and care for our natural resources.
How do you honor Earth Day?
The Corporate Earth Day Events program has become one of our most powerful programs to create direct connections between businesses, employees, and causes to make an immediate impact on work needed in the community. Each year employees from close to 20 local businesses come together to complete hands-on volunteer projects with local conservation organizations in the Corporate Earth Day Challenge. By intentionally pairing employee teams with local nonprofits, the event encourages a more personal connection between volunteers and community organizations, leading to long-term engagement.
How can people get involved with your efforts throughout the year?
Our new Corporate Membership program offers businesses the opportunity to cultivate ongoing relationships with local conservation organizations to make an impact in the community year-round. Through a customized series of volunteer engagement and educational opportunities, businesses and their employees can engage in sustainable solutions and build deeper connections. We are also getting ready to bring our Green Team Roundtable program to the Triangle area; the Green Team Roundtable presents an opportunity for employees to discuss solutions for workplace sustainability through quarterly meetings.
Through EarthShare NC, PRA was paired with SEEDS in Durham for our Earth Day project. PRA colleagues will be working with their Farm Manager on their “blackberry hill,” a piece of garden SEEDS is planning to build the soil in to make it a productive section supporting their programs and sales. Our team will be building the raised beds and filling with new soil to promote a terrace-like growing section. Here’s more information from SEEDS:
SEEDS has been in the Cleveland-Holloway neighborhood of Durham since 1994, coming up on 25 years! Originally founded as source of food access for those experiencing homelessness in the neighborhood, SEEDS has since transformed into a community garden and, currently, a garden and kitchen classroom. Our mission is to develop the capacity of young people to respect life, the earth, and each other through growing, cooking, and sharing food. Developing the capacity of young people includes responsibility, teamwork, leadership, environmental stewardship, equity, community, problem solving, and experiential learning. Our whole-child educational programming incorporates growing, cooking, and sharing food to help young people become resourceful and confident individuals with the capacity and commitment to be future leaders in their workplaces, their families, and their communities.
We currently provide both elementary and middle school programs for youth in the area. Our SEEDlings (elementary youth) join us from 3-6 daily and engage in academic enrichment activities through growing and cooking food, but also developing a sense of community and learning social/emotional skills to build the foundation for justice and equity focused conversations in middle and high school. Our SAPLINGs join us two days a week from 3-6 after school and engage in intense farm planning and work while beginning conversations around equity in food and greater society. In the next year we will be relaunching our paid high school program, DIG (Durham Inner-city Gardeners).
We welcome individuals to join us as volunteers on a regular basis in the garden and kitchen, working with kids or in small adult groups with our farm manager, Trevor. Additionally, we always welcome donations, host an annual benefit dinner, Harvest Dinner, the last Thursday in September, and are present at the downtown Durham Farmers Market.