Through the program, volunteer community stewards work collaboratively with Chicago Park District staff and contractors to protect, maintain, and restore the natural integrity of their adopted natural area. A community steward coordinates and oversees volunteer engagement of a Chicago Park District natural area, and also serves as a spokesperson and advocate for the designated natural area, acting as a liaison between the community and the Chicago Park District.
Volunteering at a Community Stewardship Workday
Stewardship workdays take place weekly at multiple sites year-round across the City of Chicago. Workday activities vary by site and time of year but can include tasks such as litter pickup, trail mulching, invasive plant removal, native plant installation, as well as fun nature-based activities such as birding and plant id walks. Participants can volunteer at stewardship workdays as often as they like and tailor their volunteer experience according to their own schedules and interests.
Become a Natural Area Community Steward
In addition to volunteers who want to help out at occasional workdays, the Chicago Park District is also looking for volunteers who are interested in becoming community stewards, which is a longer-term commitment. Volunteer stewards must be at least 18 years old, should possess a strong interest in the management of natural areas, and must be able to make at least a two-year commitment to the program. Ideally, volunteer stewards have previous experience in natural areas management and/or volunteering, but interest and desire to learn are the most important skills. All volunteers interested in becoming stewards must complete a Chicago Park District volunteer application and background check. A valid Illinois Pesticide License and an Illinois Drivers License are desirable but not necessary.
Benefits of becoming a volunteer steward include learning about native Illinois flora and fauna, gaining hands-on experience in ecological restoration, developing leadership skills, and working with volunteers to enhance Chicago's natural areas and foster an environmental ethic in the City of Chicago.
For more information, to schedule group volunteer opportunities, or to find out if volunteer stewardship is right for you, please contact the Community Stewardship Program Manager at email@example.com.
To plan your next visit to one of the Park District's natural areas where community stewardship happens: Natural Areas.