The Poplar Creek Prairie Stewards have transformed agricultural fields and farm homesteads into healthy native habitats- tallgrass prairie, oak woodland, savanna and wetland. Their efforts have seen native plants, birds and animals thrive. They also protect a jewel on the site: the Shoe Factory Nature Preserve, a remnant gravel hill prairie formed thousands of years ago by glacial deposits. Outdoor workdays are held every weekend all year. Volunteers receive training and tools for all activities and are supervised by knowledgeable personnel. You just need a willingness to get involved and learn!Students age 18 and older are welcome. Volunteers under age 18 must be accompanied by a parent or a legal guardian during the workday. Volunteers under age 18 must have their volunteer waiver signed by a parent or legal guardian.
Schedule Slots Available!
1 Apr 2023
Stewardship Volunteer Days
Meeting Place: Main lot, Rt 59 north of Golf Rd.
Contact: Rick McAndless
Phone: (847) 308-5671
9:00 am - 12:00 pm
Sign Up Individual
Sign Up Group
9 Apr 2023
Contact: Jenny Flexman
Phone: (847) 420-8131
On Route 59, one half mile north of Golf Rd. Entrance is on the left with the forest preserve sign reading Carl Hansen Woods
Contact person for opportunity
Co-Steward Jan Ahrensfeld
All volunteers need to complete the volunteer agreement and waiver form in order to participate. Be prepared for variable weather, uneven terrain, standing and/or walking for two or more hours, working near a fire, and hazardous insects and plants. Youth under 18 must be accompanied by a legal parent/guardian or attend with a chaperoned organized youth group (school, scouts, church). Volunteers under age 18 must have their volunteer waiver signed by a parent or legal guardian. Groups must coordinate the date of their visit with the contact person.
What to Expect
Stewardship volunteers help to restore natural habitat by performing seasonal restoration tasks. The work may include removing weeds and invasive vegetation, cutting and burning invasive woody plants, collecting and spreading native seed, and collecting trash. These tasks may incorporate the use of tools, including hand saws, loppers, pruning shears, trowels, shovels, rakes, and other hand tools (manual). All necessary tools, supplies, gloves, and training will be provided.
Dressing the right way for workdays will make your experience a lot more enjoyable. Keep in mind that during the fall, winter, and early spring, it can be colder on the prairie than it is at home. Usually, though, temperatures warm as the morning progresses, dress in layers that you can remove or add as needed. Minimum clothing for warm weather includes: long pants, socks, sturdy shoes, long sleeves, sunglasses, and a sun hat.We also recommend that you use an appropriate sunscreen, and if you have preferences for insect repellent, that you bring your choice.
Comfortable as they are, shorts, skirts, capri pants, tank tops, and sandals are never a good idea on the prairie or in the woodland, even in warm weather. Walking in rough terrain among tall plants poses hazards that will make these sorts of clothes very uncomfortable.
Minimum clothing for cold weather includes: long pants, long sleeves, gloves, warm socks, boots, warm coat, and hat or hood.
While we strive to create the safest environment possible, it is impossible to eliminate all potential hazards when working outside in nature. Volunteers are advised to wear long pants, sturdy closed-toe shoes and other seasonally appropriate clothing that can get dirty. Bring a water bottle. Hazards may include stinging or biting insects, poison ivy, walking on uneven terrain, a fire to burn cut brush, and inclement weather.
All individuals should consider their level of risk for the COVID-19 virus prior to engaging in any volunteer service. Review the Forest Preserve's COVID-19 page each day before volunteering for important updates and safety precautions. DO NOT attempt to volunteer if in the last 14 days you: 1. have any of the symptoms related to COVID-19 as identified by the Centers for Disease Control 2. have traveled to any foreign country or states with a high incidence of COVID-19 infections.
Learn how to sign up and prepare for your first volunteer experience:
We value what you do, record your contributions and stay up to date:
Documents and links for volunteers:
Forest Preserves of Cook County Volunteer Resources
6100 N. Central, Chicago, IL 60646
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