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Centennial Volunteers project expands to four new sites

Feb 9, 2016

Project to continue collaborative work along Chicago, Calumet Waterways


Though the Forest Preserves of Cook County’s (FPCC) Centennial Celebration ended in 2015, the impact of the 100-year milestone continues through the Centennial Volunteers legacy initiative.


The Forest Preserves of Cook County Board of Commissioners today approved a partnership agreement with Friends of the Forest Preserves (FOTFP), who was recently awarded a grant through the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s (NFWF) Chi-Cal Rivers Fund to continue to expand the Centennial Volunteers. The initiative created a network of stewards and volunteers who conduct ecological restoration projects in the Chicago and Calumet river basins.


“Programs like Centennial Volunteers help leverage our resources, broaden our reach, and utilize the special skills each organization brings to the table,” said Arnold Randall, General Superintendent of the FPCC. “This initiative also expands volunteer opportunities, and creates a community of support for habitat restoration and conservation.”


Centennial Volunteers was established in 2014 by a coalition of organizations including Friends of the Chicago River, Audubon Chicago Region, North Branch Restoration Project, FOTFP, and the FPCC. One of the main goals of the initiative is to engage 6,000 volunteers, inspiring individuals to become dedicated site stewards and volunteers for the Forest Preserves.


Since its establishment, Centennial Volunteers hosted 352 volunteer workdays during Phase 1. Nearly 6,900 volunteers contributed more than 21,000 hours of volunteer time removing invasive plants, collecting native seeds, monitoring wildlife and more at Somme Woods East, Blue Star Woods, LaBagh Woods East, Kickapoo Woods and Whistler Woods.


In Phase 2, Centennial Volunteers will extend restoration efforts to include four new sites: Beaubien Woods, River Oaks Woods, Clayton Smith Woods and Forest Glen Woods. The initiative will also bring together new partners including the North Branch Restoration Project, the Chicago Ornithological Society, and The Field Museum.


“Friends of the Forest Preserves is not a watchdog group,” said Benjamin Cox, President and CEO of FOTFP. “We are an advocacy organization that brings solutions and resources to the table to help make the preserves better for all of us.”


“The Centennial Volunteers restoration work is an example of what is possible when organizations partner,” said Randall. “With nearly 70,000 acres of diverse habitats, collaboration among like-minded organizations expands our capabilities and helps with the overall goal of restoring nature for generations to come.”


The restoration projects resulting from the NFWF grant align with the Forest Preserves of Cook County’s Next Century Conservation Plan, which seeks to restore 30,000 acres of land to good ecological health, as well as mobilize people to heal and nurture the land.


To learn more about getting involved with Centennial Volunteers, visit Volunteer opportunities for the four new Centennial Volunteers sites will be made available soon. For general information on volunteering with the FPCC, visit

Visit two of the treasures of the Forest Preserves of Cook County