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Fall is the Perfect Time to Start Volunteering

two volunteers cut buckthorn with loppers at River Trail Nature Center
Photo by Rhonda Holcomb.

Volunteers are so important to the Forest Preserves’ successful restoration of our prairies, wetlands, savannas and woodlands, and contribute to the experience of enjoying our forest preserves in many other ways, as well.

Fall is an especially busy season for volunteers, and a perfect time to get started on your volunteer journey. Check out these five ways to volunteer this fall—or visit our Volunteer Page for a full list of volunteer opportunities.


a corporate group volunteering at Busse Woods
Photo by Kris DaPra.

Your Business Can Volunteer

Whether you’re at a small business or a multinational corporation, a team of any size can volunteer in the Forest Preserves, from ecological restoration to clearing litter from our natural areas.

An afternoon in the Forest Preserves can be a great team building activity. Plan for lunch at a grove, or see if staff can be scheduled to talk about the local plants and animals that benefit from your support. We provide the tools and can work around preferred dates and locations.


two volunteers leading a craft activity at River Trail Nature Center

Volunteer at a Nature Center

If you love visiting our six nature centers, consider becoming involved to make them even better. The nature center teams have volunteer opportunities for gardening on site, providing information to visitors, ecological stewardship, and much more. From youth groups to nature photographers, our nature centers can use your skills and enthusiasm.

This fall, River Trail Nature Center is looking for volunteers to help out at the annual Fall Festival on Sunday, October 20, 2019.


Volunteer. Voluntario. Wolontariusz.

Join ecological stewardship days led in Polish at Brookfield Prairie and in Spanish at Possum Hollow.

Únete a nosotros en los Latinx Dias de Voluntario @ Possum Hollow. ¡Ayúdanos a cuidar a nuestras reservas! Te necesitamos para proteger nuestros robles y ríos. Ven y disfruta de la naturaleza y aprende como identificar plantas nativas e introducidas. Para aprender más, llame al: 773-631-1790.

Dołącz się do dynamicznej grupy wolontariuszy i pomóż przywrócić naturalny stan ekologiczny Brookfield Woods. Zażyj kilka godzin spokoju i naucz się jak identyfikować i usuwać gatunki inwazyjne, które grożą bioróżnorodności rezerwatów. Powięcej inforacji, zadzwoń: 773-510-2486.


two volunteer monitors looking at plants and recording data

Be a Citizen Scientist

Listen to frog calls or watch for birds—for science! Local volunteers help assess the health and vitality of many plant and animal species at some of the most biodiverse locations in our forest preserves.

The Forest Preserves and partner organizations run volunteer monitoring programs for butterflies, frogs, birds, bees, singing insects, rare plants and more.

The information volunteers supply fills scientific databases and informs Forest Preserves decisions about how and where to focus restoration work. Participation is open to anyone with the time, interest and willingness to be trained; requirements vary by program.


a Trail Watch volunteer on the trail

Join Trail Watch

Trail Watch volunteers act as extra eyes and ears in the Forest Preserves, ready to call the Forest Preserves Police to report graffiti, a sign down, or suspicious or illegal activity. But their most important role is to be a friendly and regular presence on the trail.

In their highly visible apparel, Trail Watch participants are regular walkers, bikers, dog walkers and horseback riders who are also willing to answer a question or give directions. Interested in joining the hundreds of Trail Watch volunteers? Attend a Trail Watch Training at Camp Sullivan on Sunday, October 13, 2019 or sign up for the Trail Watch training notification list to be alerted about upcoming training sessions.