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It's a leap year which means an extra day of volunteering in the Forest Preserves of Cook County! Are you heading out to any of our scheduled workdays this weekend?
Photo by Kris DaPra

February 2020


People of the Preserves Sweethearts Edition


Jill: After my first volunteer workday, I was hooked. Being married for 40 years, of course I recruited Dave! We used the preserves for years, but we didn’t really understand all that they gave back to us. There are many opportunities to perform volunteer ecological restoration in the preserves, but I like coming to Little Red Schoolhouse. The staff here is wonderful and I get to be outside with a diverse group of people.

Dave: Every time we come to volunteer, I learn something new whether it's from Karen Garrett or somebody else on staff. We enjoy coming to Little Red Schoolhouse so much that we actually make plans around workdays. One time at a Saturday workday somebody said, "Hey, I thought you two were on vacation". I said "Yeah, but Jill said we can’t leave until Sunday".

Jill: The preserves are a gift to all the people of Cook County. It’s one of the wonderful things in Cook County that’s free and available to all of us. It’s home. If we ever end up moving and it’s not too far, Dave says we can still drive back. I think we’re hooked on this. 

Dave: What I try to tell volunteers when they come for the first time is, the Cook County Forest Preserve District is the largest in the nation. You can’t take it all on. But you can make your little corner of the world better for the next generation. That’s what we try to do.


LuAnne: I feel that nature has given so much to me spiritually, and I love having the opportunity to help the plants and animals that are having such a hard time surviving nowadays.

John: Sometimes people come out to the preserves and say, "Oh look at all the green!" They don’t realize that under some of that are struggling native species, because they think if it’s green, it’s got to be good.

LuAnne: We often get high school groups that are really fun to work with. It’s very satisfying at the end of a workday when we’ve accomplished all of our goals, and the kids go home happy because they had a good time.

John: I tell the kids that volunteers in raggedy clothes aren’t necessarily there because they have nothing better to do, are retired or unemployed. Last week at our Arie Crown workday, we had three scientists, two doctors and had another person come, we would’ve had a lawyer. Ask them what they’re doing. Ask them why they’re here. Ask how long they’ve been coming so you feel akin to the people out here. We always tell volunteers, "We make the same amount of money as you do. We’re working for free. Our raise is 10% of nothing". The kids laugh, but the adults get it, so there’s a connection.

Did you enjoy meeting these volunteers? Take a look back at the folks we've featured in People of the Preserves by visiting the Volunteer News page on our website. 


Illinois Odonate Survey
3/21, 3/22
This free workshop is open to anyone interested in monitoring dragonfly and damselfly populations in the Chicago Wilderness Region. Space is limited and registration is required.
Sign Up
Breeding Bird Monitor
The Bird Conservation Network conducts a breeding bird survey in June throughout the Chicagoland area. New and experienced birders are invited to join our team and help measure bird populations.
Sign Up
Trail Watch
The Trail Watch program has over 400 volunteers monitoring the FPCC's 350+ miles of paved and unpaved trails, making the preserves a more welcoming place for visitors. This opportunity is totally flexible!
Sign Up
See All Volunteer Enrichment & Training


                                                    Saturday, 3/14

One Earth Film Festival is the Midwest’s premier environmental film festival, creating opportunities for understanding climate change, sustainability and the power of human involvement. The Festival runs from March 6th-15th at various locations around Chicagoland, but on March 14th you can enjoy a variety of screenings at the FPCC's Thatcher Woods Pavilion.

Sunday, 3/15
The countdown to Maple Syrup Celebration is on! Help visitors enjoy this popular family event at River Trail Nature Center, from 10am-3:15pm. Welcome guests, support a craft station, run maple syrup samples and more! Lunch will be provided. 
Thursday, 4/2
The 2020 Chicago Wilderness Congress brings together representatives from government agencies, cultural and education institutions, businesses, non-profit organizations and more to tackle challenging environmental issues. Congress sessions are organized around six focus areas: Advocacy & Awareness, Climate Communities, Green Economy, Planning & Policy, and Science & Natural Resource Management. Early Bird pricing is available until March 13th

Share you volunteer experience!
Whether it's an inspiring photo or a story from the field, we want to hear from you.
We just might include it in a future Volunteer Ecosystem.
E-mail us! 


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River Forest, IL 60305

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