Do good. Feel good: a guide to community service while social distancing

If you are looking for a relaxing activity to make a positive impact on your community while practicing the CDC’s recommendation of social distancing, consider cleaning up litter along your regular walking route, local green belts and your neighborhood.

All litter, big and small, is not only unsightly, it has serious environmental consequences, that can be easily prevented. It is important to dispose of waste properly, educate or report those seen littering and start the habit of picking it up when you see it.

Negative effects of litter:

1. Decreases community aesthetic, reducing property values.

2. Causes soil, water and air pollution. Chemicals can leach from litter, polluting nearby soil and water bodies. If the littered area is burned, it can release toxic particulate matter.

3. Creates breeding grounds for mosquitoes. It only takes 1 plastic bottle cap full of water for mosquitoes to reproduce.

4. Causes fire hazards.

5. Harms wildlife. Small pieces of litter are often ingested by aquatic and land animals and fishing line or other tanglers can trap them. This can lead to death or severe injury.

Cleanup Tips:

If you’ve been racking up a collection of plastic bags, reuse them for litter bags! Remember to take clean plastic bags and film back to the grocery store for recycling. They cannot be recycled in your curbside cart.

Dispose of collected litter in a pathway receptacle or your curbside cart. Please use care not to overstuff trash bins on pathways. Overstuffed trash cans lead to more litter.

Want to burn some calories while you’re at it? Try “plogging,” the act of picking up litter while you are jogging!

Safety Tips:

  • Use reusable work gloves to save disposable ones. Wash them after use.
  • Practice good hygiene. Wash your hands. ·
  • Watch out for poisonous plants. Leaves of three, leave it be!
  • Use care around wildlife and observe them from afar. Use a stick to disturb grass before walking through.
  • Wear long sleeved, light colored clothing and close toed shoes.
  • Bring a hat, sunscreen, mosquito repellant and a water bottle.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. Do not go into streets or busy vehicle areas.

Look down for litter, look up for other hidden treasures in the community!

While you are out enjoying a relaxing walk through the neighborhood, take advantage of being surrounded by nature in spring and consider the following social distancing approved activities:

Photography – Take a moment to share your photos with your family, friends, your community through social media and us! Many people are unable to leave the house during this time. Your photos can help them get a healthy dose of nature to brighten their day.

iNaturalist – Become a Citizen Scientist! Observe locally and identify globally by snapping pictures of local flora and fauna in The Woodlands. Download the app, snap a picture, receive help identifying species and contribute to global research.

Birding – Here is a resource from Texas Parks & Wildlife to get you started. Grocery stores often have laminated guides in the checkout lines.

Questions or comments? Email enviro@thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov

Are you ready to take the next step in serving your community?

Volunteer to help educate others about water conservation!

Residents across The Woodlands Township are seeking help with conserving water. These water heroes may already irrigate wisely, fix leaks quickly, and use low flow devices, but they want to do more. And, they live right in your neighborhood. Perhaps you know who they are; perhaps you are one of them. If that’s the case, how about joining in to help spread the message about water conservation to even more Township residents?

The Woodlands Township Environmental Services Department has launched a new program: The Watershed Project. It’s packed with training and volunteering opportunities.  There are a variety of ways to get involved; participants can choose the ones they are most excited about. Opportunities include:

Water Conservation Education

  • Learn how to conduct a sprinkler system audit and teach others in your area.
  • Staff outreach booths at events, spreading the word about water conservation.

Working with Youth

  • Assist with classroom and field study activities related to water conservation for student groups.
Students learn about aquatic ecosystems during field study activities

Hands-On Tasks

  • Apply storm drain decals to raise awareness of water quality impacts from run-off from lawns and driveways.
  • Learn about invasive plants in our waterways and help remove them.
  • Train to become a water quality monitor, collecting pollution data for the State.

Logistics Help

  • Support classes, workshops and volunteering events by checking in fellow volunteers, handing out materials, or overseeing equipment.

Neighborhood Information Resource

  • Organize educational meetings and other activities for small groups.
Volunteers monitor the health of local waterways

So, you see, being a resident water volunteer can be about more than just saving water in your own home. Increase your impact by helping others to do the same. Ready to get started? Come to our upcoming workshop and learn how to be our next water information resource. 

The Watershed Project kick-off workshop is this Saturday, February 22, at H.A.R.C, 8801 Gosling Road, from 8 a.m. to noon. Register here.


Looking for more ways to save water? Follow the monthly actions above for simple ways to save water all year long

Questions or comments? Email enviro@thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov

Save the date!

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Pre-registration is open!

Join neighbors, family and friends at the 10th annual Earth Day GreenUp on March 21st. Volunteer to beautify our community by picking up litter on pathways, waterways and greenbelts. After your hard work, celebrate at Northshore Park with free pizza, live music and a special 10-year anniversary t-shirt. Together, residents will keep The Woodlands beautiful and protect natural areas for wildlife by helping in this community stewardship project.

Registration is available online at www.thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov/greenup through March 9th. Walk-up registration is also welcome the morning of the event, starting at 8 a.m. A limited number of trash grabbers and vests will be available for loan to groups that pre-register on the website.

Disposable gloves, trash bags, water bottles, instructions and maps to cleanup sites will be provided at check-in. Participants are encouraged to bring reusable work gloves and a reusable water bottle to reduce waste.

The after party at Northshore Park, 2505 Lake Woodlands Drive, will feature local environmental organizations hosting fun activities and information on how you can make everyday Earth Day. Meet wildlife ambassadors, rock out with Let them Drum, explore new recycling and water saving opportunities and be sure to steer clear of the Bag Monster! Volunteers will receive a commemorative T-shirt and be treated to pizza. Beverages will be available, but remember to bring your own water bottle. Food tickets will be on sale to the general public.


Pre-register through Monday, March 9 at www.thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov/greenup

Check-in: Saturday, March 21, 8 to 10 a.m. at a location near you. Walk-ups welcome.

  • Alden Bridge: Alden Bridge Park
  • Cochran’s Crossing: Shadowbend Park
  • College Park: Harper’s Landing Park
  • Creekside Park: Rob Fleming Aquatic Center
  • Grogan’s Mill: Sawmill Park
  • Indian Springs: Falconwing Park
  • Panther Creek: Ridgewood Park
  • Sterling Ridge: Cranebrook Park

GreenUp: 8:30 to 11:30 a.m.

Celebrate: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Northshore Park

More Info: Call Environmental Services at 281-210-3800

The GreenUp celebration begins at 11 a.m. at Northshore Park

Volunteers help keep the vision green

George Mitchell established The Woodlands as a community in which we live, work, play and learn in harmony with nature. More than 40 years later his vision remains alive and well. Numerous efforts are made each year to continue this balance of community and nature, with much of the work accomplished by volunteers. In 2018, volunteers logged nearly 5,000 hours on environmental initiatives through The Woodlands Township Environmental Services Department. This year volunteers are contributing to the community through two newly established initiatives, Milkweed for Monarchs and the Invasives Task Force.

Milkweed for Monarchs kicked off this summer when Environmental Services partnered with Nature’s Way Resources to grow native milkweed which will enhance pollinator habitats throughout The Woodlands. Native milkweed is critical to the survival of monarch butterflies; it’s the only plant monarchs will lay their eggs on and the sole source of food for monarch caterpillars. Unfortunately, it is in short supply due to habitat loss and growing more from seed is no easy task. But, the Township, Nature’s Way Resources and volunteers from the Heartwood Chapter Texas Master Naturalists have accepted the challenge and have spent more than 300 hours propagating over 13,000 seedlings. These seedlings will be planted this fall in rights-of-way, community gardens, parks and other projects. Additionally, a portion of the volunteer-grown milkweed is available to residents creating their own pollinator gardens. 

If you’re interested in receiving milkweed for your home, church, school, or business garden, pick up a voucher at The Woodlands Landscaping Solutions event on Saturday, September 28 from 9 a.m. to noon. You can also get them at the Environmental Services Department offices at 8203 Millennium Forest Drive, The Woodlands, TX 77381 during business hours as of Monday, September 30, 2019. Redeem your voucher for 6 pots of native milkweed at either Alspaugh’s Ace Hardware or Nature’s Way Resources by November 16, 2019. 


While the effort is underway to reestablish milkweed around The Woodlands, another group of volunteers is taking action to remove plants along pathways and open spaces. Non-native, invasive plants to be exact. Invasives, like air potato vine, Japanese climbing fern and Chinese Privet, crowd out native vegetation, degrade soil health and push out critical food sources that wildlife depend on.

Volunteers in the fight against invasives are a dedicated group who received training provided by The Woodlands Township Environmental Services Department. Volunteers work alongside Heartwood Master Naturalists on scheduled days at specific sites throughout town. The most recent training for invasives removal took place in August with forty-two Township residents and master naturalists making the commitment to serve on the ES Invasives Task Force.  Dr. Hans Landel, Invaders Program Director for the UT-Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, provided instruction to the workshop participants. The next training is scheduled for February 2020. 

The Woodlands Township Environmental Services Department would like to thank all volunteers for efforts to maintain our environment and for keeping George Mitchell’s vision alive. 

If you are interested in joining the Invasives Task Force, starting a pollinator garden or participating in upcoming volunteer opportunities, email enviro@thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov

Mark your calendars!

The Woodlands Township Environmental Services Department has a packed schedule this fall with something for everyone. Always wanted to grow your own vegetables or interested in what it takes to compost in your own backyard? Curious about the fascinating world of bugs, bats and birds? If you have been looking to learn more about reducing your water usage, adding native plants to your yard, or you’re ready to recycle the odds and ends around the house, then read on.

Invasive Species Task Force Volunteer Training
Saturday, August 10, 2019 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Houston Advanced Research Center (HARC) 8801 Gosling Road

Learn how non-native plants are impacting our local ecosystem and what actions you can take to keep them at bay. Dr. Hans Landel from the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center will provide training on the identification and removal of invasive plants and the critical functions of native vegetation. Trained volunteers will be able to join the ongoing effort to tackle invasives in our area.

Free workshop. Registration required. Register here.


Fall Organic Vegetable Gardening Class
Saturday, August 24, 2019 from 9 a.m. to noon
The Woodlands Emergency Training Center (16135 IH-45 South)

Beginning and veteran gardeners alike will gain valuable information at this free, three-hour seminar. Learn about the latest gardening trends, soil preparation, planting techniques and the best plant varieties for the area. Join Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Agents Emeritus (retired) Tom LeRoy and Bill Adams as they share their many years of vegetable gardening experience and expertise. Books authored by both Tom and Bill will be available. Montgomery County Master Gardeners will be on hand to answer your gardening questions.

Free class. Registration required. Register here.


Walk in the Woods Nature Lecture Series: Our Neighborhood Bats
Thursday, September 12, 2019 from 6 to 7:30 p.m.
Houston Advanced Research Center (HARC) 8801 Gosling Road

Join this FREE lecture series, led by Diana Foss from Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Diana will discuss habitats, behaviors and threats to bats living in urban areas. Come learn the benefits bats provide to The Woodlands and where you can observe bats year-round in the Houston area.

Free lecture. Registration required. Register here.


22nd Annual Woodlands Landscaping Solutions
Saturday, September 28, 2019 from 9 a.m. to noon
The Recreation Center at Rob Fleming Park

This event is FREE!

Don’t miss this year’s event at its new location—the Recreation Center at Rob Fleming Park. Learn from area gardening and landscaping experts at over 30 booths. Shop the marketplace. Pick up FREE plants at the Montgomery County Master Gardener’s pass-along plant booth.  Take a composting class. Guest speaker Lauren Simpson will present, “Gardening for Pollinators” and Tom LeRoy will present on “Lawn Care”. Enjoy live music by Andy McCarthy, kids’ activities and food vendors. See you there!

Visit www.thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov/environment for more information.


Smarter Choices Seminar: Healthy Landscapes = Healthy Waterways
Saturday, October 5, 2019 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The Woodlands Emergency Training Center (16135 IH-45 South)

Learn how simple steps can result in greener lawns and healthier waterways. Practical methods for maintaining your lawn and landscape, as well as alternatives to chemical use will be offered. 

Free workshop. Registration required. Register here


Walk in the Woods Nature Lecture Series: Vampires, Zombies and Body Snatchers
Thursday, October 10, 2019 from 6 to 7:30 p.m.
Houston Advanced Research Center (HARC) 8801 Gosling Road

Join this FREE lecture series led by Megan McNairn from The Woodlands Township Environmental Services Department. Megan will dive into the creepy crawly world of bugs where monsters come to life and ghoulish creatures go bump in the night.  

Free lecture. Registration required. Register here.


Pollinator Gardening
Saturday, October 26, 2019 from 9 a.m. to noon
The Woodlands Emergency Training Center (16135 IH-45 South)

Lauren Simpson, area pollinator gardening expert, will share her experience of creating her own suburban pollinator garden. Lauren will offer practical gardening tips, pollinator information and simple home garden design strategies. Pollinator gardening resources and research-based gardening information will be available. Montgomery County Master Gardeners will answer your gardening questions.

Class is free. Registration required. To register, visit www.thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov/environment


Backyard Composting Class
Saturday, November 2, 2019 from 10 to 11 a.m.
8203 Millennium Forest Drive

Learn how simple and easy it is to turn kitchen waste, yard trimmings and leaves into rich, handmade compost. Try out the variety of composting tools and equipment. Find out how compost benefits plants, gardens and lawns.
Our outdoor composting class is taught by certified, experienced Montgomery County Master Gardeners. Composting resources, problem-solving, trouble-shooting and tips are provided at each class. High-quality collapsible compost bins are available for purchase at a reduced price.

Free class. No registration required.


Drip Irrigation and Rainwater Harvesting Workshop
Saturday, November 2, 2019 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The Woodlands Emergency Training Center (16135 IH-45 South)

Save water, time and money.  Hands-on training teaches you everything you need to know to set up a rainwater harvesting barrel in your yard and to convert automated sprinkler systems to water-efficient drip systems. Additional rainwater harvesting options, such as rain gardens, will be discussed.  Sign up for this water-saving workshop today!

Free workshop. Registration required. Register here.


3R Bazaar at The Woodlands Farmers Market
Saturday, November 9, 2019 from 8 a.m. to noon
The Woodlands Farmers Market at Grogan’s Mill (7 Switchbud Place)

Celebrate America Recycles Day and explore the 3R Bazaar at The Woodlands Farmer’s Market at Grogan’s Mill Explore the 3R Bazaar and discover opportunities to reduce, reuse and recycle.  Shop from local artists featuring repurposed materials or create your own upcycled masterpiece.  Enjoy live music, kids’ activities and bring the following items to be recycled:

  • Batteries: Alkaline, AA, AAA, C, D, and 9V
  • Textiles: Overly worn clothing, shoes, linens and other unusable textiles
  • Oral care products: Toothbrushes, toothpaste tubes and floss containers
  • Eyeglasses: Plastic and metal frames and cases
  • Document Shredding: $5 or 5 canned food donations to benefit Interfaith of The Woodlands Food Pantry

Free event. No registration required.


Walk in the Woods Nature Lectures Series: An Introduction to Birds of The Woodlands
Thursday, November 14, 2019 from 6 to 7:30 p.m.
Houston Advanced Research Center (HARC) 8801 Gosling Road

Join this FREE lectures series led by Alisa Kline from Buffalo Bayou Park. Explore the vital role that birds play in our community’s ecosystem. Alisa offers tools and techniques for observing birds and behaviors and the benefits of documenting observations through iNaturalist.

Free lecture. Registration required. Register here.


Backyard Composting Class
Saturday, December 7, 2019 from 10 to 11 a.m.
8203 Millennium Forest Drive

Learn how simple and easy it is to turn kitchen waste, yard trimmings and leaves into rich, handmade compost. Try out the variety of composting tools and equipment. Find out how compost benefits plants, gardens and lawns.
Our outdoor composting class is taught by certified, experienced Montgomery County Master Gardeners. Composting resources, problem-solving, trouble-shooting and tips are provided at each class. High-quality collapsible compost bins are available for purchase at a reduced price.

Free class.  No registration required.


For more information on these events, visit www.thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov/environment or call 281-210-3800.