Volunteer Workdays

For upcoming volunteer workdays, visit Calendar of Events.

Applications and Forms
Catch "The Spirit"

Downolad the District's volunteer newsletter, The Spirit.

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

(Position Currently Filled)

Age Requirement: 18 years old and older

Application Required: yes

Deadline: Feb. 25

Commitment: March through July, 20 hours per year

Description

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.

Basic Responsibilities

  • Complete District training and learn how to identify frog and toad calls
  • Complete multiple surveys during three amphibian breeding periods. Weather conditions may be inappropriate or amphibians may not be active each time a monitor visits. Therefore, volunteers should expect to visit the monitoring site often in order to collect the best data
  • Complete survey and summary sheets accurately and send them to the NRM volunteer liaison at the end of each breeding period
  • Adhere to District safety and confidentiality regulations (found under the "Doing the Survey" section of the Amphibian Monitoring Manual)

Additional Requirements

  • Complete the District volunteer application process.

Commitment

  • Amphibian monitoring volunteers must commit for at least one breeding season, but will ideally observe a site for several years.
back to top»

Bird Monitor

Age Requirement: 18 years old and older

Application Required: yes

Deadline: April 15

Commitment: One year, 20 hours per year

Description

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

Basic Responsibilities

  • Monitors complete District training
  • Monitors complete their point-count surveys one morning per week during the breeding season. If they choose to monitor during the spring/fall migration season, they complete surveys once per week. If they choose to monitor during the winter, they complete surveys once every two weeks
  • Complete survey sheets accurately and carefully and send them to the NRM volunteer liaison once per month during the months they monitor
  • Adhere to District regulations about confidentiality for sightings of endangered, threatened, or watch list birds

Additional Requirements

  • Complete the District volunteer application process.

Commitment

  • Volunteers monitor birds for at least one breeding season. The District especially appreciates monitors who are able to monitor during the spring/fall migration(s), and/or winter season.
  • Ideally, a monitor will observe a site for several years.
back to top»

Bluebird Monitor

Age Requirement: 18 years old and older

Application Required: yes

Deadline: February 25

Commitment: One year, March through July, 25 hours per year

Description

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).

Basic Responsibilities

  • New volunteers must complete a District training session to learn monitoring protocol and identification of various bird species dependant on nesting cavities, along with their breeding behavior, nests and eggs
  • Check bluebird trails once a week, starting in mid-March until the last fledging leaves the nest (usually at the end of July). At a minimum, monitoring dates must coincide within a seven-day period
  • Cross-train on at least one other bluebird route and act as a substitute for an absent volunteer (ensures coverage of all bluebird boxes during the breeding season)
  • Adhere to District safety and confidentiality guidelines
  • Accurately complete field recording data sheets and summary sheets. Submit all forms to NRM volunteer liaison by the end of September

Additional Requirements

  • Complete the District volunteer application process.

Commitment

  • Volunteer must commit for at least one breeding season.
  • Ideally, Monitors would maintain a bluebird trail for several years.
back to top»

Butterfly and Dragonfly Monitor

Age Requirement: 18 years old and older

Application Required: yes

Deadline: April 25

Commitment: One year, June-August and May-September, 20 hours per year

Description

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.

Basic Responsibilities

  • New volunteers must complete a training session to learn monitoring protocol and identification of various species.

Additional Requirements

  • Complete the District volunteer application process.
back to top»

Co-Steward

Age Requirement: 18 years old and older

Application Required: yes

Deadline: None

Commitment: One year

Description

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.

Basic Responsibilities

  • A co-steward is qualified for and successfully completes the work he/she agrees to do
  • Completes District forms and returns them to the District in the required length of time specified by District Natural Resource Management (NRM) staff
  • Works cooperatively with District staff and other volunteers
  • If a co-steward chooses to do ecological management at the site, he/she learns and adheres to ethical and ecologically-sound principles. All ecological management must be in accord with District-approved management plans

Additional Requirements

  • Complete the District volunteer application process.

Commitment

  • Co-stewards are asked to make a minimum one-year commitment
  • Attend any required District workshops or training
back to top»

Native Plant Nursery Volunteer

Age Requirement: 16 years old and older

Application Required: yes

Deadline: None

Commitment: One growing season, April through November, 25 hours per year

Description

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.

Basic Responsibilities

  • During the growing season (approx. May – October), volunteers maintain the plant beds. Volunteers spend most of their time weeding in the early summer, and collecting seed in the late summer and fall
  • Volunteer leaders may supervise and train other nursery volunteers
  • Perform miscellaneous duties as requested by staff and agreed to by the volunteer

Additional Requirements

  • Complete the District volunteer application process.

Commitment

  • Volunteers are asked to make a commitment for one growing season.
back to top»

Natural Resource Management Workday

Age Requirement: 14 years old and older, under 14 years old with an adult

Application Required: no

Deadline: None

Commitment: One Event

Description

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.

Basic Responsibilities

  • Volunteers should be on time for the activity they’re attending
  • Must follow District safety guidelines
  • Volunteers should only accept tasks they are physically capable of completing

Additional Requirements

  • Group workdays by youth groups, civic organizations, or prospective Eagle Scouts – include all the above activities, as well as picking up litter, brush cutting, and other projects.
  • Volunteers must complete a Volunteer One-Time Workday Waiver at or before their first workday.
  • If volunteers will be participating in workdays on a regular basis, volunteers are encouraged to complete a District Volunteer Application Form.
  • Volunteers must be at least 14 years old, unless accompanied and supervised by an adult.
  • Youth group projects with children younger than 14 require different adult to child ratios, usually at least one to five. Group project volunteers aged 14-17 must be accompanied by one adult for every ten youths.
  • Groups of five or more must contact the Volunteer Services Office

Commitment

  • Volunteers participate as their schedule allows.
back to top»

Protect Your Waters: Boating Volunteer

Age Requirement: 18 years old and older

Application Required: yes

Deadline: April 1

Commitment: One season, May through October, 1-2 hours per month

Description

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.

Basic Responsibilities

  • Perform invasive species identification by sight.
  • Conduct plate monitoring for zebra mussels. Collect specimens.
  • Perform data collection and related documentation including survey sheets and confidential reports.
  • Remove littler from lakes, ponds and rivers. Observe preserve conditions; report hazards and concerns.
  • Assist staff with the development, preparation, maintenance and implementation of educational displays using a variety of mediums to educate the public.
  • Provide resources to the public and outside agencies.
  • Educate the preserve visitors regarding Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) awareness and the Cast No Trash program.
  • Keep general records utilizing written records, computer programs and e-mail.
  • Perform other duties as assigned.

Additional Requirements

  • Complete the District volunteer application process.
back to top»

Protect Your Waters: Shoreline Volunteer

Age Requirement: 16 years old and older

Application Required: yes

Deadline: April 1

Commitment: One season, May through October, 1-2 hours per month

Description

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.

Basic Responsibilities

  • Perform invasive species identification by sight.
  • Conduct plate monitoring for zebra mussels. Collect specimens.
  • Perform data collection and related documentation including survey sheets and confidential reports.
  • Remove littler from lakes, ponds and rivers. Observe preserve conditions; report hazards and concerns.
  • Assist staff with the development, preparation, maintenance and implementation of educational displays using a variety of mediums to educate the public.
  • Provide resources to the public and outside agencies.
  • Educate the preserve visitors regarding Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) awareness and the Cast No Trash program.
  • Keep general records utilizing written records, computer programs and e-mail.
  • Perform other duties as assigned.

Additional Requirements

  • Complete the District volunteer application process.
back to top»

Rare Plant Population Monitor

Age Requirement: 18 years old and older

Application Required: yes

Deadline: None

Commitment: One year

Description

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.

Basic Responsibilities

  • Monitors his/her assigned plant populations, using appropriate techniques. Monitors visit their species as often as necessary to collect the relevant data
  • Sends completed plant monitoring forms to the Natural Resource Management (NRM) volunteer liaison by November 15, unless the plant ecologist sets a different completion date. If monitors are part of the Volunteer Stewardship Network (VSN), they should send an additional copy of their forms to their VSN contact. Stewards may turn in their plant monitoring data with their year-end report on February 15
  • If a plant population is in immediate danger, a monitor should contact the plant ecologist as soon as the monitor notices the threat
  • Completes an on-site training session with District staff. If the monitor is a steward, no on-site training is required. If a steward requests an on-site training, staff will be happy to provide one

Additional Requirements

  • Has an interest in natural areas restoration and plant monitoring. Some background in plant identification or biology is preferable, but staff will train a promising novice
  • Has been an active volunteer for at least one year and has attended at least four workdays, or is a District steward or co-steward. The manager of Natural Resources may make an exception if the volunteer has previous experience.

Commitment

  • Volunteers are asked to make a one-year commitment.
  • The ideal monitor will volunteer for several years, in order to develop a sense of the population trend for each species.
back to top»

Steward

Age Requirement: 18 years old and older

Application Required: yes

Deadline: None

Commitment: One year

Description

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.

Basic Responsibilities

  • Stewards monitor their sites on a periodic basis, at least twice a year
  • Follow all applicable District policies and procedures listed in the NRM volunteer manual or given to them by the manager of Natural Resources or volunteer liaison
  • Work cooperatively with District staff and other volunteers
  • If a steward chooses to do ecological management work at the site, she/he learns and adheres to ethical and ecologically-sound principles. All ecological management work must be in accord with District-approved management plans
  • If a steward chooses to hold workdays: He/she gives the District at least two months notice of a publicized workday so that the District can avoid schedule conflicts, He/she trains inexperienced volunteers. Stewards demonstrate efficient and safe ways to use tools (e.g., seed rakes, loppers, bow saws) to all workday volunteers, He/she is responsible for ensuring that all workday volunteers under his/her supervision volunteer in a safe manner

Additional Requirements

  • Stewards are interested in natural areas and ecological restoration
  • A prospective steward completes an apprenticeship with an experienced steward before becoming a steward at his or her own site. An apprentice becomes a steward upon approval by their mentor steward(s), any other volunteer members of the New Steward Approval Committee, and the manager of Natural Resources
  • Prospective stewards are active in the Forest Preserve District’s NRM Volunteer Program for at least six months before they become stewards. The manager of Natural Resources may make an exception if a volunteer has previous academic or professional experience, has participated in a similar volunteer program for at least six months, and/or has outstanding ecological knowledge and organizational skills
  • If a steward holds workdays on his/her site, he or she has the organizational and planning skills necessary to hold an efficient and safe workday
  • If stewards choose to do physical work on their sites (e.g., cutting brush, raking in seed), they are capable of strenuous physical labor. Each steward should confer with his or her physician to ensure that he/she has all vaccines necessary to safely work outdoors and is in good physical condition. The Forest Preserve District recommends that all stewards have an up-to-date tetanus vaccination

Commitment

  • Stewards are asked to make a minimum one-year commitment
  • Stewards attend any required District workshops or training
back to top»
Brouse Aloud Get Adobe Reader
©2014 Forest Preserve District of DuPage County
EMPLOYMENT   |   BIDS AND PROPOSALS   |   LINKS   |   RULES AND REGULATIONS
CONTACT US   |   PRIVACY POLICY   |   TERMS OF USE   |   SITE MAP