volunteer

January Volunteer Opportunities & Trainings

If giving back to the community is on your list of New Year’s resolutions, consider joining a restoration workday in the Forest Preserves of Cook County. There are opportunities all throughout the County, and are open to people of all experience levels. Please be sure to dress for the weather, including study footwear.

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December Volunteer Opportunities and Trainings

While some may think nature is self–sufficient, the truth is that ensuring our natural lands thrive takes work. A lot of work.   The Forest Preserves are fortunate to have dedicated stewards at sites throughout the county, each hosting numerous volunteer workdays during the year. If you’re looking for a fun and easy way to give back to nature, consider joining a workday:

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Try This! Seed Collecting at Spring Creek Forest Preserve

Interested in volunteering, but not sure where to start? Consider joining a seed collecting workday with the Spring Creek Stewards at Spring Creek Forest Preserve in Barrington Hills!  We need lots of volunteers to help with our seed collecting efforts.

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Volunteer Newsletter: Tales from the Trails

Story and photo by Robert Schwaan   People often ask me what I am going to do with my life now that I am retired. I respond by telling them that I volunteer and plan to continue doing so. Some respond to my answer with “Why?!” I volunteer because I feel that nature often affects people in a positive and lasting way. Recently, I had a few experiences that proved this to be true.

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Volunteer Newsletter: Nature in Focus

We talked with two of our volunteers and talented amateur nature photographers to learn what inspires them. Fidencio Marbella and Kris DaPra share their advice on how you too can give nature photography a try.

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Volunteer Newsletter: The Spirit of Volunteerism

By Amy Julian, Naturalist I at Little Red Schoolhouse   The spirit of volunteerism is felt throughout the Little Red Schoolhouse Nature Center thanks to the staff and clients from UCP Seguin of Greater Chicago “CHOICE” programming in Oak Park.  UCP Seguin of Greater Chicago is a nonprofit organization that provides adults with disabilities opportunities to develop living skills while encouraging community involvement. This group of committed individuals has been of service to the Nature Center on a weekly basis for more than a year now.

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Adopt-A-Site Volunteer Morgan Gawlik Knows Importance of Giving Back

When Steven Gawlik was growing up, his mother Susan taught him respect for the environment, and that humans only have one life to live so people need to take care of it. Because he had these values, Steven was able to pass them down to his daughter Morgan, who is now a Forest Preserves Adopt-A-Site volunteer at only 6 years old.

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Celebrate Earth Day, Arbor Day With The Forest Preserves of Cook County

Throughout the Forest Preserves of Cook County, visitors can join in on celebrations and restoration work days in honor of Earth Day. Celebrating Earth Day is a great way to explore the Forest Preserves while making an impact on our local natural areas. It’s also an opportunity to continue preserving habitat for the millions of plants, animals and other living things that call the Forest Preserves home.

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Volunteer Newsletter: Volunteer Impact of our Monitoring Partners

By Mary Busch, Volunteer Program Specialist   The Volunteer Resources team would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the hard work and dedication of our partner monitoring organizations and all of the volunteer monitors on the ground in the Forest Preserves of Cook County and beyond.

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Volunteer Newsletter: Batty for Bats

Bats have a pretty bad reputation, largely because they are feared and misunderstood.  These fears and misconceptions about bats have only been perpetuated by scary movies and sensationalized reporting in the media, but the reality is that bats are passive. They actually play an important role in our local ecosystems, mainly in controlling insect populations. In fact, a single bat can consume 3,000 insects in one night including the pesky ones like mosquitoes. You’re welcome. They are also a great barometer of the conditions of our environment because where there are bats, there are insects. And where there are insects, there is less toxicity, greater biodiversity and so on.

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Volunteer Newsletter: Pin this!

By Jane Balaban, North Branch Volunteer Steward   In this month of “Oaktober,” we celebrate the magnificent trees that dominate the canopy of many of our woodlands of the Forest Preserves here in northeast Illinois. White Oak (Quercus alba), our state tree, is one of at least a half dozen or so different oaks found throughout the Preserves. One of the less well-known species is the Pin Oak (Quercus palustris), identified by its straight towering trunk and straggly lower branches. Donald Culross Peattie poetically describes this feature in his A Natural History of Trees: “In outline, as it stands winter-naked, the Pin Oak is remarkable for having…a single, mast-like shaft of a trunk going right up through the center of the tree.”

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Volunteer Newsletter: Burning with volunteers – a learning experience!

By John McCabe, Director of Resource Management   The Forest Preserves’ burn program, in many respects, began with volunteers. While I don’t have a detailed history around this issue, volunteers have been burning at the Forest Preserves for many years. Whether it was an all-out prescribed burn or letting a brush pile creep across a few acres, the benefits of fire were well known to these stewards of the land.  While Forest Preserves staff at some of our Nature Centers were using fire as a management tool as early as the 1960s, it wasn’t until the mid-1990s that the Forest Preserves really started to formalize a “burn program.” 

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Volunteer Newsletter: Thank you, Lee Ramsey!

After 18 years of extraordinary commitment as volunteer coordinator for the Bird Conservation Network, Lee Ramsey is retiring. Spearheading the influential BCN Survey, Lee organized volunteer monitors in the Forest Preserves of Cook County and beyond to make scientific observations and collect nearly two decades of data about trends in Chicago-region bird populations. He has served as record-keeper, problem-solver, ambassador and cheerleader.

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Evidence of Alien Life Found in Forest Preserves of Cook County

New Cook County resident Oscar Nuskin reported the initial sighting earlier this week after a hike through Forest Glen Woods with his family. “All of the sudden the woods got extremely dark and we weren’t seeing any of the usual plants and animals… just this thing. Its thorny arms seemed to be everywhere… it grabbed my son for a second,” Nuskin explained in his official report of the encounter.

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