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Adopt Your Favorite Forest Preserves Site

a group of volunteers at an Adopt-A-Site location

The Forest Preserves of Cook County are home to nearly 70,000 acres of diverse habitats, miles and miles of trails and waterways, hundreds of groves, and so much more. While some Forest Preserves visitors frequent many different locations, many sites become favored sites. If a site has become your go-to spot for a day of relaxation and outdoor play, consider becoming an Adopt-A-Site volunteer.

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.

“I was looking for another way to help out, but don’t have a ton of time as I also have a full-time job.  I figured if I was walking this trail a lot, why not keep it nice and neat looking? I really feel great helping and it gives me a good feeling when people walk or ride by and thank me for all I’m doing,” said Andi Rizzo, who has adopted the portion of Tinley Creek Trail System‘s Red Paved Loop that runs through Cooper’s Hawk Grove, Arrowhead Lake and Turtlehead Lake.

By adopting a site, volunteers are helping to ensure a positive experience for other visitors and hopefully inspiring them to also care for the site.

“We adopted our site, Robinson Woods, because we have been going here for years. We love the area here and the trails. The area is also great for photography,” explained Tommy and Michelle Nava. “We feel great helping clean up litter knowing the preserves will be safer for the wildlife and more appealing and enjoyable for visitors. This is a great opportunity to both enjoy nature and help nature.”

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.

“The preserves are wonderful for adults and children to enjoy nature.  The forest preserves are also important for animals, birds, and plants as a buffer between the suburbs and the city,” explained Clare Mostek, Adopt-A-Site volunteer for Bemis Woods South, Grove 1. “I have learned about the plant material in the grove I care for. I have also discovered a small stream in the grove I adopted.”

Currently, 41 sites have been adopted. Is your favorite location on that list? Learn more by visiting our Volunteer Page, or by contacting Volunteer Resources at 773-631-1790.