Idaho Gives: Environment 

Idaho has 107,651 miles of rivers, over 100 named mountain ranges and many more hiking and biking trails—so it's no wonder the people who live here like to enjoy and protect the outdoors. During Idaho Gives, dozens of environmentally minded nonprofits will seek donations, with missions ranging from keeping pollution out of the Gem State's air and rivers (like the Boise River Enhancement Network and Idaho Rivers United) to preserving habitat for native species (Idaho Native Plant Society, Dry Creek Valley Coalition, Sagebrush Steppe Land Trust and many others) and leading outdoor excursions for folks who could use the inspiration of nature most (River Discovery, for example, plans river-float adventures for cancer survivors).

click to enlarge COURTESY WILD HEARTS IDAHO
  • Courtesy Wild Hearts Idaho

Thanks to the egalitarian nature of Idaho Gives, national heavy-hitters like The Sierra Club Foundation and Winter Wildlands Alliance will be side-by-side with smaller nonprofits. One of those is Wild Hearts Idaho, a leadership organization for teenage girls that teaches them confidence and skills through outdoors adventures. It just earned nonprofit status in 2018.

"Really, we're all about opportunity, introducing girls to Idaho's wild places and building leadership in the process," said Maggie Benedetti, WHI's founder and executive director.

To keep Idaho Gives Day interesting, WHI has created a scavenger hunt: Every time a donation goal is reached it will unlock a new clue. Representatives of the group will also show up at Idaho River Sports from noon-3 p.m. and the BFF Block Party at Lost Grove Brewing from 5-10 p.m. on May 2 to share their mission and goals with would-be donors.

Another group getting creative with giving is Idaho Conservation League, which will incentivize donations with a funding match. Contributions up to $22,500 will be doubled, with funds going to support its Boise, Ketchum, and Sandpoint offices as they advocate for local, state and federal policies that protect Idaho's natural resources.

click to enlarge The nonprofit Sawtooth Interpretive & Historical Association encourages first-hand engagment with Idaho’s environment through educational programs at Redfish Lake. - COURTESY SAWTOOTH INTERPRETIVE & HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION
  • Courtesy Sawtooth Interpretive & Historical Association
  • The nonprofit Sawtooth Interpretive & Historical Association encourages first-hand engagment with Idaho’s environment through educational programs at Redfish Lake.

In addition to wild places, food and agriculture play big roles in environmental health. Not only does eating locally produced meats and produce support Idaho's agricultural community, it saves on fossil fuels used to transport food from Point A to Point B—spots that are sometimes a whole country apart. Boise Farmers Market, one of Boise's go-to suppliers of local food raised ethically, plans to use funds raised on Idaho Gives Day to build and spread those green habits, starting with kids.

"Our Idaho Gives campaign supports the Sprouts Kids Club and the Boise Farmers Mobile Market," said BFM Executive Director Tamara Cameron.

Sprouts, which starts in May, offers kids ages 5-12 a free hands-on activity each week at the market, centered on local food and healthy eating. Those rage from making kale smoothies to planting their own tomatoes. A $50 gift will cover Sprouts tokens for 25 kids who can use them at the market to buy their very own fruit and vegetables from farmers, and a $100 buys a week of gas for the Mobile Market "Veggie Van," which sold nearly 9,000 pounds of produce in 2018, much of it to elderly or disabled people who couldn't visit the market. Even bigger gifts will go toward driver salaries, which Cameron said are difficult to fund through grants.

"Our drivers are amazing. They don't just drive the bus. They know about the food and they know about our local farmers, and they know how to prepare food so they can suggest recipes," she said.

This will be BFM's third year participating in Idaho Gives, and it's a fundraiser that Cameron said has grown "dramatically" each year. She added, "Idaho Gives is an opportunity for us to raise funds with a level of outreach we could never do on our own."

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