Natural Resources

Volunteer For Our Natural Resources

Natural Resources' volunteers assist our team of ecologists restore natural diversity to DuPage forest preserves. Volunteers also monitor bird, amphibian, reptile and insect populations in the preserves. During workdays, volunteers collect and redistribute seeds or remove invasive species to re-establish native prairies and woodlands.

Help improve forest preserve habitats, and volunteer for natural resources.

For information about volunteering, contact Volunteer Services at 630-933-7233 or [email protected].

New to volunteering or want to put in hours for school, Scouting or work? Our workdays are great opportunities to experience the outdoors and earn hours without committing to a long-time volunteer position. A list of restoration and nursery workdays can be found by selecting "Volunteering" on our Calendar of Events.

 

Purpose

The Forest Preserve District's Volunteer Services program engages volunteers who are willing to donate their time, talents and resources to support the programs and staff in carrying out the mission, purpose and guiding principles of the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County and its various volunteer programs.  

Restore Natural Areas

Restoration Workday Volunteer

Commitment: Flexible/Participate as schedule allows
Location: Districtwide
Minimum Age: 18
Application Deadline: April 1

Distinguishing Features of the Position

This position assists with accomplishing restoration goals for an ecologically valuable natural area. From late fall to early spring, volunteers remove invasive species or plant native seed to increase diversity in degraded areas or where invasive plants have been removed. In spring, summer and fall, volunteers collect seed from native plants.

Workdays are held year-round and are supervised by a volunteer steward and/or District employee. Workdays typically last two to three hours, depdnding on the day's task(s), and begin with an education/training sessions. Duties may vary at the discretion of District staff. View full position description (PDF).

Volunteer stewards may do work at their stewardship site outside scheduled workdays. If you would like to learn about how to help during other times of the month or year, contact Natural Resource Management Stewardship Program Coordinator Cindy Hedges at 630-876-5929 or [email protected].

 

Native Plant Nursery

Commitment: Seasonal/Flexible
Location: Native Plant Nursery, West Chicago IL
Minimum Age: 16
Application Deadline: None

Distinguishing Features of the Position

This position assists staff with the care and maintenance of the Native Plant Nursery. Volunteers may weed or water plant beds, install plugs, monitor and inventory plants, collect and clean seed, keep records, develop appropriate signs or educational programs, and maintain walkways. Volunteers are encouraged to take part in all aspects of nursery operations (seed collecting, weeding certain beds, sign making, etc.). Open communication is encouraged if volunteers wish to initiate special projects, subject to approval by the Stewardship Program Coordinator.
 
All nursery volunteers use hand tools (spades, trowels, wheelbarrows, etc.) in their work. NR staff or nursery stewards are available to train volunteers and answer questions.
 
The amount and type of work in the nursery varies from day to day and year to year, depending on weather conditions. The two busiest times are late spring/early summer, when weeding and planting take place, and late summer/early fall, when native plant seeds ripen and must be collected.
 
Duties may vary at the discretion of District staff. The volunteer will sometimes interact with the public and respond to questions and requests for information. Direction and training is received from staff. View full position description (PDF).
 
 

Native Plant Nursery Lead

Commitment: Seasonal
Location: Native Plant Nursery, West Chicago IL
Minimum Age: 18
Application Deadline: None

Distinguishing Features of the Position

This position assists staff with the care and maintenance of the Native Plant Nursery. Lead volunteers will supervise and utilize volunteers to weed or water plant beds, install plugs, monitor and inventory plants, collect and clean seed, keep records, develop appropriate signs or educational programs, and maintain walkways. Volunteers are encouraged to take part in all aspects of nursery operations (seed collecting, weeding certain beds, sign making, etc.). Open communication is encouraged and initiating special projects are encouraged, subject to approval by the Stewardship Program Coordinator

All Nursery volunteers use hand tools (spades, trowels, wheelbarrows, etc.) in their work. NR staff or nursery stewards are available to train volunteers and answer questions.

The amount and type of work in the nursery varies from day to day and year to year, depending on weather conditions. The two busiest times are late spring/early summer, when weeding and planting take place, and late summer/early fall, when native plant seeds ripen and must be collected.

Duties may vary at the discretion of District staff. The volunteer will sometimes interact with the public and respond to questions and requests for information. Direction and training is received from staff. View full position description (PDF).
 
 

Steward

Commitment: Monthly/Flexible (40+ hours per year)
Location: Districtwide-Assigned preserve
Minimum Age: 18
Application Deadline: None

Distinguishing Features of the Position

This position assists staff in accomplishing the restoration goals for an ecologically valuable natural area. Stewards implement management activities that further site goals, which may include brush clearing, installing plants, seed collection and sowing, and invasive species control. Stewards may assist staff in monitoring specific flora, wildlife, natural communities, water bodies, and/or other resources at the site, or oversee and assist other volunteer monitors.

Stewards assist staff with community outreach efforts, and schedule workdays by coordinating volunteer activities at the site with the NR Volunteer Liaison. Some stewards with special skills may initiate additional activities (e.g., research, educational programs) with the approval of the Stewardship Program Coordinator. Stewards are members of the Volunteer Stewardship Network (VSN) of The Nature Conservancy. Each steward is encouraged to contribute to the management plan for their stewardship site (PDF) and share ideas and solutions to site problems with District staff and other stewards.

Volunteers will occasionally interact with the public, and respond to questions and requests for information. Duties may vary at the discretion of District staff. Direction and training is received from staff. View full position description (PDF).
 
 

Co-Steward

Commitment: Monthly/Flexible
Location: Districtwide-Assigned preserve
Minimum Age: 18
Application Deadline: None

Distinguishing Features of the Position

This position assists staff in accomplishing the restoration goals for an ecologically valuable natural area. They are responsible for some substantial aspects of the site’s volunteer natural resource management which may include overseeing one or more aspects of volunteer work at the site, seed collecting, education and outreach, invasive species control, record keeping, updating plant inventories, etc. Co-stewards assist with community outreach efforts and help supervise other restoration volunteers.

Co-stewards are members of the Volunteer Stewardship Network of The Nature Conservancy, who contribute significantly to the restoration of a site but do not need to have the commitment and knowledge of a steward. Volunteer stewards supervise and mentor co-stewards.

Volunteers will occasionally interact with the public and respond to questions and requests for information. Duties may vary at the discretion of District staff. Direction and training is received from staff. View full position description (PDF).

 

Monitor Natural Resources

 Amphibian Monitor

Commitment: Seasonal/Flexible
Location: Districtwide-Assigned site
Minimum Age: 18
Application Deadline: Feb. 1

Distinguishing Features of the Position

This position assists staff with the assessment and inventory of frog and toad populations in District-owned natural areas, recording and turning in data in a timely manner and recording volunteer hours. Duties may vary at the discretion of District staff. The volunteer will sometimes interact with the public and respond to questions and requests for information. Direction and training is received from staff. View full position description (PDF).
 

Bird Monitor

Commitment: Seasonal/Flexible
Location: Districtwide-Assigned route
Minimum Age: 18
Application Deadline: April 1

Distinguishing Features of the Position

This position assists staff with the assessment and inventory of populations of birds in the District-owned natural areas, recording and turning in data in a timely manner and recording volunteer hours. Duties may vary at the discretion of District staff. The volunteer will sometimes interact with the public and respond to questions and requests for information. Direction and training is received from staff. View full position description (PDF).

 

Bluebird Monitor

Commitment: Seasonal/Flexible
Location: Districtwide-Assigned route
Minimum Age: 18
Application Deadline: Feb 1

Distinguishing Features of the Position

This position assists staff with the assessment and inventory of bluebird box populations in District owned natural areas, recording and turning in data in a timely manner and recording volunteer hours.

Duties may vary at the discretion of District staff. The volunteer will sometimes interact with the public and respond to questions and requests for information. Direction and training is received from staff. View full position description (PDF).

 

Butterfly Monitor

Commitment: Seasonal/Flexible
Location: Districtwide-Assigned site
Minimum Age: 18
Application Deadline: April 1

Distinguishing Features of the Position

This position assists staff with the assessment and inventory of butterfly populations in District-owned natural areas, recording and turning in data in a timely manner and recording volunteer hours. Duties may vary at the discretion of District staff. The volunteer will sometimes interact with the public and respond to questions and requests for information. Direction and training is received from staff. View full position description (PDF).

 

Dragonfly Monitor

Commitment: Seasonal/Flexible
Location: Districtwide-Assigned site
Minimum Age: 18
Application Deadline: April 1

Distinguishing Features of the Position

This position assists staff with the assessment and inventory of dragonfly and damselfly populations in District-owned natural areas, recording and turning in data in a timely manner and recording volunteer hours. Duties may vary at the discretion of the District staff. The volunteer will sometimes interact with the public and respond to questions and requests for information. Direction and training is received from staff. View full position description (PDF).

 

Fungus Monitor

Commitment: Seasonal/Flexible
Location: Districtwide-Assigned site
Minimum Age: 18
Application Deadline: April 1

Distinguishing Features of the Position

This position assists staff with the assessment and inventory of fungi in District owned natural areas, recording and turning in data in a timely manner and recording volunteer hours.

Duties may vary at the discretion of District staff. The volunteer will sometimes interact with the public and respond to questions and requests for information. Direction and training is received from staff. View full position description (PDF).

 

Protect Your Waters Boating Monitor

Commitment: Seasonal/Flexible
Location: Districtwide-Assigned sites
Minimum Age: 18
Application Deadline: April 1

Distinguishing Features of the Position

This position assists staff with identification and reporting of invasive species in the District-owned natural areas while educating the public regarding invasive species and litter’s effect on the habitats in District-owned natural areas, recording and turning in data in a timely manner and recording volunteer hours. All Protect Your Waters boating volunteers must possess their own registered canoe, kayak or small boat and personal flotation device. Duties may vary at the discretion of District staff. The volunteer will sometimes interact with the public and respond to questions and requests for information. Direction and training is received from staff. View full position description (PDF).

 

Protect Your Waters Shoreline Monitor

Commitment: Seasonal/Flexible
Location: Districtwide-Assigned sites
Minimum Age: 18
Application Deadline: April 1

Distinguishing Features of the Position

This position assists staff with identification and reporting of invasive species in the District-owned natural areas while educating the public about invasive species and litter’s effect on the habitats in District-owned natural areas, recording and turning in data in a timely manner and recording volunteer hours. All Protect Your Waters boating volunteers must possess their own registered canoe, kayak or small boat and personal flotation device. Duties may vary at the discretion of the District staff. The volunteer will sometimes interact with the public and respond to questions and requests for information. Direction and training is received from staff. View full position description (PDF).

 

Rare Plant Monitor

Commitment: Seasonal/Flexible
Location: Districtwide-Assigned site
Minimum Age: 18
Application Deadline: April 1

Distinguishing Features of the Position

The rare plant monitoring program is designed to gather standardized, regional monitoring data over time to learn population trends in relation to management practices. This long-term project is part of the Chicago Wilderness Biodiversity Recovery Plan goal to assess research & protect and recover the region’s rare plants. Chicago Botanic Garden coordinates the Plants of Concern program and provides training to volunteers. Partnerships have been established with local, state, federal and non-profit agencies to facilitate the program.

This is a flexible program, conducted during normal hours of operation (one hour after sunrise to one hour after sunset). Monitors must call the Stewardship Program Coordinator before completing training to ensure there are openings and to discuss placement.

This position involves assisting staff with the assessment and inventory of rare plants in District-owned natural areas, recording and turning in data in a timely manner and recording volunteer hours.

Duties may vary at the discretion of District staff. The volunteer will sometimes interact with the public and respond to questions and requests for information. Direction and training is received from staff. View full position description (PDF).