Three Unique Ways to Volunteer in the Forest Preserves of Cook County

In addition to the numerous volunteer workdays available throughout the Forest Preserves of Cook County, there are several programs that enable residents to give back to nature in unique ways.

Read on to learn about three different types of Forest Preserves of Cook County volunteer programs:


Nature Ambassador Supporter and Outreach


We know that people who love the Forest Preserves are the greatest champions of our natural areas, and often help connect others to this great resource. Enthusiastic people can now turn their “boosterism” into an official volunteer role by becoming a Nature Ambassador Supporter or Nature Ambassador Outreach Volunteer.


As a Nature Ambassador Supporter, volunteers help promote the Forest Preserves by forwarding an email, sharing a Facebook post, or talking to a group of friends about us, all of which can officially be recorded and counted towards volunteer service. While the level of involvement is up to the volunteer, we may make requests from time to time, asking volunteers to promote a new program, volunteer role, or a special event.


For volunteers looking to do even more, interested people can consider becoming a Nature Ambassador Outreach Volunteer and help out alongside an FPCC staff member at special events, talking about the Forest Preserves and interacting with the public. Our data shows that word of mouth is our most effective tool for recruitment and promotion, so volunteers can be sure that their efforts are having a big impact.


Click here to learn about Nature Ambassador Supporters or click here to learn about Nature Ambassador Outreach.


Trail Watch


Trail Watch volunteers help patrol the preserves and act as extra eyes and ears for the Forest Preserves Police, reporting suspicious or illegal activity with a phone call. Besides simply being seen, volunteers support public safety efforts by reporting suspicious activity, graffiti and maintenance or other safety issues. Members of the program are outfitted with a neon green t-shirt, whistle, Trail Watch ID and maps and encouraged to use the preserves as much as possible.


There are two upcoming trainings for those interested in becoming a Trail Watch volunteer:

  • Sunday, 4/29/2018 • 9:30 – 11:30 am: Dan Ryan Woods Pavilion, S Western Ave & W 87th St in Chicago
  • Thursday, 5/10/2018 • 7 – 8:30 pm: Harper College, 1200 W Algonquin Rd, Palatine


Click here to learn more about Trail Watch.




Adopt-A-Site volunteers make a commitment to visit their favorite grove, river, lake or trail eight times between April and November to clean litter, paying special attention to the summer months when people are out in larger numbers. Because Adopt-A-Site volunteers determine when they make their site visits based on their schedules, this is a flexible volunteer opportunity. Once three site visits have been recorded, the volunteer is eligible to have a sign installed recognizing that they’ve adopted the site.


This rewarding opportunity can be enjoyed by people of all ages, including families, individuals, youth groups and more. For families and youth groups, Adopt-A-Site is a great introduction to teaching young children the importance of caring for and nurturing nature, and how humans have an impact on the environment and wildlife. Additionally, the Adopt-A-Site program enables volunteers to interact with their site on a new level, sometimes helping them discover new features.


Click here to learn more about Adopt-A-Site.

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