Volunteer Workdays

For upcoming volunteer workdays, visit Calendar of Events.

Application and Waiver
Volunteer Network

VICNET Current volunteers, visit the Forest Preserve District's Volunteer Information Access Network.

Contact Us

For more information, contact Volunteer Services at (630) 933-7681 or volunteer@dupageforest.org.

Volunteer hours do not count toward court-ordered community service.

 

Natural Resources

Natural Resources Volunteers get to enjoy nature while working to restore natural diversity to DuPage County forest preserves. The District relies on volunteers to continue Managing Natural Resources throughout DuPage County. During workdays, volunteers collect and redistribute seeds or remove invasive species to re-establish native prairies and woodlands. Volunteers also monitor bird, amphibian, reptile, and insect populations and care for seedlings in the District's native-plant nursery. Help improve the habitats of the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County by joining this dedicated group of volunteers.

Amphibian Monitor

Amphibian monitors help District ecologists assess frog and toad populations and update preserve species lists. They provide important data about frogs and toads that are integrated into site management plans. Opportunities are available at many preserves. Volunteers complete a breeding survey a minimum of once every two weeks during the four distinct breeding periods that occur between early spring and mid-summer (late March through late July). Surveys take place at night, during appropriate weather conditions. Monitors identify species by call. Monitors also search for amphibian larvae along wetland edges. This is a flexible program that allows monitors to complete their surveys at times convenient to their schedules, as long as surveys are conducted during optimum conditions.

Bird Monitor

Bird monitoring helps District ecologists assess bird populations, update species lists, and evaluate the effect of natural areas restoration projects on bird populations. Opportunities are available at many preserves. Volunteers complete point-counts, where they listen at a pre-designed point for 10 minutes and record all the calls they hear or birds they see within 100 meters (in open habitat) or 50 meters (in woodlands) of the point. Depending on the monitor’s interest and the preserve, a survey route may consist of only one point, or may be a multi-point route that requires between twenty minutes and three hours to survey. Bird monitors complete point-count surveys once per week during the breeding season (June). Surveys must be completed between sunrise and 8:00 a.m. and must take place in good weather conditions. The breeding season is the most important data collection time. However, if volunteers would like to monitor during the winter season (January – February) and/or during the spring (May) and/or fall (September) migration seasons, the ecology team would be excited to receive that data. The animal ecologist supervises bird monitors. Birders should be independent, self-motivated individuals with good vision and hearing. This is a very flexible program that allows monitors to complete their survey routes at times convenient to their schedules. Learn more, click here

Bluebird Monitor

Volunteers help restore successful breeding bluebird populations to DuPage County. Monitors record observations and check boxes a minimum of once a week, from mid-March until the last fledging leaves the nest (usually at the end of July). District ecologists use data to assess songbird populations and track trends. Information is integrated into the Illinois Bluebird Project (a state-wide effort) and North American Bluebird Society (a regional effort) to help determine nesting success rates, box preferences, trends, and overall success of bluebird populations. This program is flexible and allows monitors to complete their box inspections any day of the week, during normal hours of operations (one hour after sunrise to one hour after sunset).

Butterfly and Dragonfly Monitor

Butterfly monitors perform several summer censuses at a specific site to collect data about a place’s butterflies. The Butterfly Monitoring Network, a project of the Volunteer Stewardship Network of The Nature Conservancy, trains monitors. Monitors return their data sheets to the butterfly monitoring coordinator of the network and give copies to the NRM volunteer liaison. Before a monitor completes the network’s training, they should call the NRM volunteer liaison to ensure that they will be able to monitor at a convenient site, because butterfly monitors are only needed at certain District natural areas. Prospective volunteers do not need to know anything about butterflies.

Co-Steward

A co-steward is responsible for some substantial aspect of the volunteer natural resource management of an ecologically-valuable natural area. Co-stewards may: Direct all the volunteer restoration and management work at one section of the site; or Oversee one aspect of volunteer activities at the site, such as bird monitoring, volunteer recruitment, seed collecting, education and outreach, producing a newsletter, etc. Almost all District co-stewards are members of the Volunteer Stewardship Network of The Nature Conservancy. Volunteer stewards supervise and mentor co-stewards. Co-stewards contribute significantly to the restoration of a site, but do not need to have the commitment and knowledge of a steward.

Native Plant Nursery Volunteer

Native plant nursery volunteers assist Natural Resource Management (NRM) staff with the 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 assume responsibility for an aspect of nursery operations (seed collecting, weeding certain beds, sign making, etc); they coordinate their efforts with the appropriate NRM staff. Qualified volunteers may also initiate special projects, subject to approval by the NRM coordinator. All nursery volunteers use hand tools (spades, trowels, wheelbarrows, etc.). NRM staff train volunteers and are available to answer questions. The amount and type of activity in the nursery varies from day to day and year to year, depending on weather conditions. Our two busiest times are late spring/early summer, when we do a great deal of weeding and planting, and late summer/early fall, when native plant seed ripens and must be collected. Depending on rainfall, it may be necessary to weed heavily during the middle of the summer.

Natural Resource Management Workday

Individuals and groups are invited to attend Natural Resource Management’s Volunteer Restoration Workdays. At workdays participants work to restore a natural area to ecological health. From late fall to early spring, volunteers selectively clear exotic shrubs that invade natural areas and shade out native plants. Once these aggressive shrubs take over a preserve, an area that previously supported a few hundred plant and animal species unique to Illinois or the Midwest frequently will contain only a few species. After invasive shrubs are selectively removed, native plants often begin to grow again. In summer and fall, volunteers collect seed from native plants. From autumn to spring, volunteers plant the seeds in places where exotic bushes have been removed. View Workdays on the District Calendar of Events. Less than one-tenth of one percent of Illinois’ native ecosystems exist today. The few natural areas that remain are globally-endangered habitats. These ecologically-valued areas are home to a wide array of plants and animals unique to Illinois and the Midwest. Volunteer restoration workday volunteers learn about and participate in the preservation and restoration of many of these significant natural areas.

Protect Your Waters: Boating Volunteer

Volunteering involves identification and reporting of invasive species in the District owned natural areas while educating the public regarding invasive species and litters effect on the habitats.

Protect Your Waters: Shoreline Volunteer

Volunteering involves identification and reporting of invasive species in the District owned natural areas while educating the public regarding invasive species and litters effect on the habitats.

Rare Plant Population Monitor

Monitors observe populations of rare plants. They monitor population trends and notify the District of possible threats to a population. Plant monitors are encouraged to note the associates and habitat of their assigned species. With District and steward approval, volunteers may also collect seed from the species they monitor and redistribute the seed to an appropriate habitat within the preserve. Volunteer opportunities are available at preserves throughout the District. Monitors are supervised by either a site steward or the District’s plant ecologist. Plant monitors should be independent, self-motivated individuals, because this is a very flexible program where monitors observe their assigned species at times convenient to their schedules.

Steward

A steward assumes responsibility for the volunteer natural resource management and restoration of an ecologically valuable natural area in cooperation with the Forest Preserve District. Almost all District stewards are also members of the Volunteer Stewardship Network of The Nature Conservancy. At a minimum, a steward surveys the natural area at least twice a year and reports his/her findings to the Forest Preserve District. During these surveys, a steward walks the site and notes any inappropriate land use activities (e.g., off-road biking), changes in neighboring land use, or unauthorized access routes into the preserve. Stewards share ideas and solutions to site problems with District staff and other stewards. Each steward is encouraged to contribute to the management plan for the site he/she stewards. Depending on the needs of the site and the steward’s interests and experience, he/she may choose to do a great deal more. With District approval, a steward may perform ecological management activities at the site. She or he may organize site workdays in which volunteers collect or rake in seed, remove exotic plant species, clean up trash at the preserve, or perform other work. Additionally, with District approval, a steward may monitor the flora, fauna, natural communities, water bodies, and/or resources at the site, or supervise other volunteers who do so. Stewards with special skills may initiate other activities (e.g., research, educational programs) with the approval of the Natural Resource Management (NRM) supervisor.
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