Three days ago, on March 26, I announced that I would dedicate my 2014 Appalachian Trail thru-hike to HIKE for Mental Health, a nonprofit that directs donations to mental health research and preservation of wilderness trails. While building my fundraising page, I hesitated over what dollar amount to set as a goal. I settled on $500, which seemed a modest but attainable figure.
I vastly underestimated the generosity and caring of my friends, family, and readers. Together, we surpassed that $500 goal in just two days. I decided to step it up and go for a new reach goal of $2,185, or one dollar for each mile of the AT.
That new goal seems unattainable to me, but perhaps that is fitting: for many people, the very notion of walking all the way from Georgia to Maine must seem like an unrealistic fantasy. Lots of things are like that, though, unimaginable right up until you try.
In keeping with my pledge to spend more time in nature this year, I made my first visit to the Outdoor Campus – West in Rapid City this past weekend. Run by South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks, the Outdoor Campus — West opened in 2011. The facility features a LEED Gold building (one of only eight structures in South Dakota that have attained this level of certification from the U.S. Green Building Council) situated on 32 acres that include two small ponds, a stream, and 1.5 miles of trails.
The windows lining the front of the Outdoor Campus – West building look out over a pond that’s home to ducks and muskrats. View a map.
Since finishing grad school and re-entering the workforce, I’ve upped my annual charitable contributions. I’ve also re-thought my giving plan, trying to target smaller nonprofits that work on conservation issues that are often neglected by the biggest, best-known organizations.
The end of the year is a great time to give; several of my favorite groups have matching programs right now, so that donations made before December 31st will be doubled. If you’re looking to make some contributions in the next week or so, here are a few of the nonprofits I support: Read more