Children help rake mulch at a natural area.

Thank you to all our volunteers!

Stewards help pull invasive weeds from the natural area.

Thank you to all our volunteers!

Stewards help to mulch trails in the natural area.

Thank you to all our volunteers!

Pulling invasive weeds is an important activity in our natural areas.

Thank you to all our volunteers!

A stewardship program flag flying on a sunny day.

Thank you to all our volunteers!

The Chicago Park District's Community Stewardship Program connects neighboring communities to volunteer opportunities at local natural areas in order to inspire investment and care of these shared spaces. The program first began in 2001 with 29 workdays at 10 sites and has since expanded to more than 400 workdays annually across more than 40 sites.

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 an 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 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 identification walks. Participants can volunteer at workdays as often as they like and tailor their volunteer experience according to their own schedules and interests.


Become a Natural Area Community Steward

Becoming a Community Steward offers many benefits, including learning about native Illinois flora and fauna, gaining hands-on experience in ecological restoration, developing leadership skills, connecting people to nature, and fostering an environmental ethic in the city of Chicago. While opportunities are limited, people interested in becoming a volunteer Community Steward should contact for more information. 

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.

Natural Areas

To find a list of Chicago Park District’s natural areas and plan your next visit, see our Natural Areas webpage.