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Cold temps didn't keep volunteers from coming out to Dan Ryan Woods in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on January 20th, including this group from Lost Boyz Inc., an organization working to decrease violence, improve social and emotional conditions, and provide financial opportunities among the youth in Chicago's most needy communities.

January 2020


People of the Preserves 


“I was teaching when I got an email to become part of the Master Naturalist program, and in that program you had to put in volunteer hours, mostly with the Forest Preserves. The first places I volunteered were at Kickapoo and Whistler and I just enjoyed it so much that this is primarily where I volunteer now. I became a Co-Steward at Kickapoo but I still volunteer here at Whistler. With the proximity to the city, I think people are surprised to learn these places are here. They are both beautiful.

“It gives me peace to be out in the woods. My parents are from eastern Tennessee so we got to spend time in the Smoky Mountains. That’s one of the reasons why I enjoy nature. We have a great love of the Smokies so maybe being out here is a way or reliving that time, and having it still be part of my life because we don’t have as much green space in the City. But we’re getting there.

“I’m always encouraging people to come out. I think it’s partly wellness. We always see people in their cars here resting, maybe after a long day at work. We want them to get out of their cars to at least walk around the path and maybe at some point we can get them to come over and do restoration. I guess the bottom line is, if we can get people to understand that they’re benefiting more than even the nature, we can get them to help restore it."


“One day I opened a local paper. There was a little article in there written by Judy Pollock that said something like, ‘If you want to restore a prairie back to its original health meet at this person’s house and get on the team.’ I saw it and thought, ‘Oh my gosh, this is exactly what I want to do. I want to really get my hands dirty.’

“I don’t have this natural background. I don’t have a science background. I have a public relations background. So I’m sitting on the couch [at this meeting] and I’m listening to people and nobody really wants to raise their hand or speak up too much because we’re all still trying to feel this out, and it’s still very new. But I said, ‘Wow, well I don’t know about the science side of this but I sure know that we need energy, and outreach, and PR and I can contribute that.’

Keep reading Pat's story

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. 


Practical Herbicide
Newly state licensed? Experienced licensed herbicider? Interested in obtaining an Alternative License which enables you to apply herbicide under an Applicator? This class is for you.

Sign Up
Brushpile Building & Burning 
If you've reported 15 hours of volunteer ecological stewardship, attend this class to learn all about brushpile building and burning, including pre and post-burn communication. 
Sign Up
Illinois Odonate Survey
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
See All Volunteer Enrichment & Training

Featured Volunteer Opportunities


Sunday, 3/15
Do you enjoy interacting with families and young children? Do you consider yourself to be pretty crafty? Then you'll really enjoy volunteering at River Trail Nature Center's popular winter event, Maple Syrup Celebration from 10a-3:15pm. Lunch will be provided! 

Are you a friendly photographer who can capture the smiles and spirit of Forest Preserves events and programs? If so, then this is a great opportunity to practice and improve your photography skills. Also, your photos could be featured in Forest Preserves print or web-based publications!

Winter 2020 

Will we get any real snow this winter? We don’t know, but if it does snow, the crowds will descend on Sagawau Environmental Learning Center to enjoy cross country skiing on scenic groomed trails. Stay warm and dry at the Trail Pass Desk or hit the trails yourself as a Ski Patrol Volunteer
Both of these roles ensure that visitors have a fun, safe, and memorable experience (plus you can enjoy all-you-can-drink hot cocoa*)

*while supplies last 


Find Us On Facebook 

Guess what! There's now another way to stay connected to the latest news in our volunteer world. Please check out our newly created Facebook Group, The Forest Preserves Volunteer Ecosystem. Here we'll celebrate volunteer accomplishments, share training information, swap ideas and best practices, and hopefully also provide some entertainment! We look forward to connecting with you on social media. 
Share your story!
Whether it's an inspiring photo or a tale 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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536 N. Harlem Avenue
River Forest, IL 60305

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