Outdoor Opportunities in Spring

The clocks have sprung forward and spring is just around the corner. As migrating birds return from winter nesting grounds and animals stretch their tired winter legs, there is no better time to get out and enjoy America’s parks. March presents two great opportunities to get outside and learn about everything happening around you.


National Wildlife Week, from March 18 to 24, sports a “Branching out for Wildlife” theme this year. The theme celebrates trees and the importance they have for both wildlife and people. National Wildlife Week is the National Wildlife Federation’s longest-running education program. It has been a yearly celebration of nature and wildlife since 1938.

The NWF has set a goal to plant 75,000 trees from January to May of this year. You can help them reach their goal by planting just one or by joining in one of the many Wildlife Week group tree-planting events

You can even host your own event! Backyards, parks and common neighborhood areas are great locations to plant a tree. The NWF also provides resources to planters about the best type of tree for their area and the maintenance it will require.

Seedling trees can purchased directly from the NWF. Schools, youth groups and nonprofit organizations may be eligible for free trees!

A fun way to learn about trees and their wildlife are the wildlife trading cards that can be downloaded from the NWF website. There are 45 total cards that come in sets organized based upon the section of the tree utilized by the wildlife. A list of activities and games the cards can be used for is available online.


March 14, 1903—President Theodore Roosevelt established the first National Wildlife Refuge System at Pelican Island in Florida. Now, 110 years later, the system contains 561 national wildlife refuges and 38 wetland management districts. The system’s areas offer protection to wildlife and their natural habitat.

Many of the system’s areas will be hosting events to honor the landmark birthday. Visitors are invited to come to Pelican Island, the system’s first park, to celebrate the 20th annual Pelican Island Wildlife Festival. The festival will encompass exhibits, live wildlife shows, pontoon boat tours and historical reenactments. Outside of the boat tours, all the attractions are free!

An entire list of events can be found on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife website. Find an event that peaks your interest, or just get outside, enjoy a refuge near you and appreciate the 110 years of history in the National Wildlife Refuge System.

As spring approaches, check back with the Oh, Ranger! blog for updates on opportunities near you and download the free Oh, Ranger! ParkFinder app to always locate parks near you.

Image: National Wildlife Week features a "Branching Out for Wildlife" theme this year. Source: NWF