What is PEACH?
"Promoting Education through Action for Conservation of Habitats," or PEACH.
PEACH is a collaboration aimed at inviting and orienting people from all backgrounds to volunteer to help foster healthy habitats, thereby creating a culture of conservation in Massachusetts. We envision a world in which it is common for individuals and families to work outdoors to protect local habitats and wildlife; where it's as common as participation in sports or music or art programs are today. Locally, PEACH is an initiative for volunteers to enhance or gain new skills and knowledge related to their local environments, and to make a positive difference in their neighborhoods through education and conservation programming.
Building toward our vision will take collaboration. We are starting with a few partner organizations, but we aim to grow and collaborate with many more in years to come. By working with local conservation partners, we are identifying new conservation projects and volunteer trainings that will help land managers complete those projects. As part of the collaborative process, we are challenging each other to step out of comfort zones.
As we grow, we will seek to engage communities, people, and places that have been harmed and too-often overlooked by conservation organizations. We will celebrate important conservation efforts that have often gone unnoticed in urbanized places, and we will support resiliency building by facilitating volunteer conservation projects centered on environmental justice issues in local communities.
More to come. Reach out if you'd like to add your organization!
Together, we are building a culture of conservation.
The PEACH project aims to empower residents of communities in the Boston area to deepen their collective impact on habitat areas, improving ecosystem health while practicing healthy activities, and supporting individuals and communities as they commit to this important work.
PEACH aims to remove barriers to volunteering. This includes facilitating opportunities for people with limited mobility, hosting programs in locations and at times that fit working-class schedules, are inclusive of people of all ages so that child or elder care is not necessary, and providing necessary entry-level training to complete projects. By removing barriers such as these, PEACH will be accessible to all.
We are working to diversify engagement; ensuring opportunities for people from all backgrounds access to work on projects and to develop their skills for habitat work. This means we're listening to what communities tell us they need and are working collaboratively to help partner organizations engender an ethic of cultural humility as they build capacity for inviting, welcoming, orienting and supervising volunteers from all walks of life as they work on habitat projects in their town and region.
We're also working to support more diverse conservation work. This includes developing new training programs that address different types of skills and knowledge needed to care for different types of habitats that need tailored interventions. This means working in parks and conservation land as well as vacant lots, urban-wilds, and corridors in the city and suburbs that connect the greater ecological landscape across divisions and municipal boundaries.
All communities have people who want to help take care of their neighborhoods and who are willing to make a commitment to give time and energy to make a positive difference. With little to no training, volunteers have cleaned coastlines and parks, removed invasive plants, installed fencing to protect shorebirds, and built nature trails, just to name a few. With slightly more training, volunteers can help plant eelgrass or other native species in suitable habitats, and they can act as citizen scientists gathering data and contributing to larger research projects, or even host their own volunteer-powered conservation project.
Many environmental challenges we face today require leaders with specialized knowledge and skills. By collaborating to facilitate training to develop appropriate skills, we can go beyond the entry-level projects and effectively tackle conservation concerns, kickstart citizen science initiatives, and begin creating new conservation leaders.
Are you willing to take the next step to be a leader?
Benefits of Volunteering
Ready to get involved? By joining our team, you can expect a number of benefits!
- Help native habitats to thrive
- Create new social connections
- Improve physical health through exercise
- Improve mental health by being outdoors and engaging with others
- Connect to your local environment and community
- Explore new places
- Build your resume and network
- Learn new skills
We're facilitating skill building for:
- Basic ecological knowledge
- Citizen science
- Removal of invasive species
- Propagation of native species
- Precise and accurate data collection
- Safe use of tools
- Communication skills
- Volunteer leadership
Examples of field projects and trainings:
New trainings and projects will be added over the course of this program, each targeting different conservation issues and community needs. Past and current projects include:
Birds are a global phenomenon, found on every continent and in nearly every climate. The health, diversity, and size of these populations can serve as an indicator of overall environmental quality. More numerous, diverse populations often mean our local habitat is healthy! Through various training opportunities, volunteers learn how to identify common species and collect valuable data PEACH partners. This data will be used to better understand and protect valued species and their habitats.
Invasive Plant ID and Removal
Invasive species are a threat to native habitat across the world. Thanks to a lack of natural predators, non-native plants can out-compete native species for space and resources. Conservation organizations across the region work with volunteers to remove invasive species on a near-daily basis. By attending these trainings, volunteers will be able to confidently identify invasive species at PEACH projects and in their own neighborhoods.
Native Plant Propagation
Native habitat is threatened by human development, the spread of invasive species, and poor water and air quality, just to name a few. Through the concerted efforts of conservation organizations and volunteers, we can turn the tide to restore this habitat. Volunteers on this track will learn basic gardening skills and techniques before taking home native plants of their own. By taking care of these plants in a protected environment (their home or backyard), these plants get a ‘head-start’ on success when they are re-planted in restoration sites later in the year.
Across partner organizations, volunteer leaders help coordinate and manage projects. These leaders work with professionals to educate our volunteer community on conservation issues, manage large groups of volunteers in the field, and log the accomplishments of volunteers. Leadership training includes group management practices, effective environmental education, species identification, and general project coordination.
Acknowledgement to Funder(s)
To aid in this effort, EPA awarded a grant to the New England Aquarium as part of the Environmental Education Local Grants Program, in 2017. The aquarium is facilitating to involve a wide range of participants in "Promoting Education through Action for Conservation of Habitats" (PEACH) via enriching and inclusive educational and volunteer programs.
This page was developed under Assistance Agreement No. NE00A00338 awarded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It has not been formally reviewed by EPA. The views expressed in this document are solely those of New England Aquarium and other PEACH project partners. EPA does not endorse any products or commercial services mentioned.