« All News

New, Final Position Paper Puts Focus on Volunteer Impact

A group of volunteers gathered at Kickapoo Woods, smiling, for a photo
Photo by Kris DaPra.

With nearly 70,000 acres of land, the Forest Preserves of Cook County relies on the help of dedicated volunteers to care for our natural spaces. From removing invasive species like buckthorn to monitoring pollinators and plants, the work volunteers do is critical in protecting and restoring the Preserves. Understanding the significant contributions made by volunteers and the need to engage more volunteers is the focus of the Forest Preserves’ newest and final position paper, Scaling Up Volunteers in the Forest Preserves of Cook County.

The paper centers on the need for attracting and retaining volunteer leaders to conduct restoration at sites across the Preserves, noting that “stable site-level leadership has advanced the art and science of restoration and has developed place-based cultures throughout the county that are committed to advancing the Forest Preserves’ mission.” Scaling up volunteers and empowering and trusting individuals to care deeply for the preserves connects directly to the Next Century Conservation Plan’s Nature and People goals.

The recommendations for Scaling Up Volunteers include:

  1. Engage: Involve a variety of partners to attract and enlist volunteers that reflect the diversity of Cook County.
  2. Train: Work with partners to foster a culture of learning and teaching among volunteers.
  3. Retain: Embrace and empower volunteers as critical partners in the common mission.
  4. Sustain: Ensure that the resources, relationships and systems are in place to continue and expand volunteer programs.

This position paper is one of four published in 2020 by the Conservation and Policy Council of the Forest Preserves of Cook County. The other papers are:

  • Moving Towards Racial Equity in the Forest Preserves of Cook County
  • Acquisition and Disposition of Land by the Forest Preserves of Cook County
  • Nature-Compatible Recreation in the Forest Preserves of Cook County

Each of these documents outlines a set of principles and recommendations about a key issue that faces the Forest Preserves today and in the foreseeable future. To read more about the recommendations in this position paper or to learn about the others, visit our Conservation and Policy Council page.