The BCCD has a multitude of volunteer opportunities for those who want to join us in getting “boots on the ground” in our local conservation areas. A continued, year-round presence in our conservation areas ensures an intimate knowledge of our local flora and fauna and the stewardship of our public conservation lands. Whether you’re fulfilling a community service requirement for school, indulging your current interest in the environment, or seeking a fun and stimulating experience, we have a place for you on our volunteer crew!   Join us, and we’ll show you the local wonders that can be found off the beaten path! Please call our administration building at (815)547-7935 if you wish to lend a hand!

Volunteer crews meet at our maintenance facility in Spencer Conservation Area every Tuesday morning in Spring and Summer from 8 am to 12 pm, and every Tuesday afternoon in Fall and Winter from 12 pm to 3 pm. Together, BCCD staff and volunteers perform a variety of tasks that improve the quality of our natural areas and the well-being of everything that depends on them.

Seed Harvest and Planting: The foundation of any successful habitat restoration is the collection and planting of a diverse mix of native wildflower and grass seeds. From May through October, join BCCD staff and volunteers in collecting native seeds from across the county. This activity will provide you with a unique view of our conservation areas, and knowledge of native plants and the wildlife that depend on them! From October through December, staff and volunteers take breaks from the cold to clean and mix seed while enjoying some conversation and company. When the first snow falls, we venture into current project areas and broadcast the seeds, creating new seed sources and beneficial resources for local wildlife. Indeed, we work with native seeds throughout the year, and it’s never too late to find your place in this fun and important endeavor!

Invasive Weed Management: Invasive weeds continually threaten to out-compete and displace native wildflowers; that is, without our intervention. Join BCCD staff and volunteers in responding to this ongoing threat! In the spring and summer, we sweep through our woodlands and prairies, hand-pulling and cutting invasive weeds and lightening the burden on blooming wildflowers. In fall and winter, we cut and drag invasive brush from current project areas, preparing the site for an introduction of native seeds. Of course, we like to take breaks and enjoy some drinks, snacks, and conversation!

Wildlife Monitoring: If you are already an avid birder or have knowledge of native plants, reptiles, amphibians, insects, or freshwater fish and mollusks, we would appreciate you contributing your insight to our ongoing surveys and inventories!  And if you wish to simply broaden your knowledge of our local flora and fauna and lend a hand as we search for rare and declining species, we’d happily oblige! The BCCD actively performs surveys for a variety of wildlife to determine the extent of species presence in our local conservation areas. Check out our Wildlife Monitoring tab to see what areas pique your interest and call our Administration Building at (815)547-7935 to lend a hand!

Native Tree and Shrub Installation: The BCCD has upcoming projects in which native tree and shrub planting is a vital component. Planting nursery-grown trees and shrubs provides instant cover for wildlife and quickly establishes the intended habitat that would otherwise take years or decades from seed.

Prescribed Burning: BCCD staff annually coordinates and executes prescribed burns of our county’s natural areas in the spring and fall. Interested volunteers are provided with training, PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), and resources to obtain independent certification in prescribed burning if desired.

Site Stewardship: Those who have an affinity for a particular conservation area(s) have the option to be a site steward. This is a role that would allow you to gain an intimate knowledge of the natural resources on-site, coordinate volunteer crews, identify management needs, implement site management, and contribute to project creation and goals for the site.

Fence Removal: BCCD staff frequently encounter old fencing left over from the previous use of a conservation area. Fencing removal is a profoundly important task that will allow staff and site patrons access to portions of conservation areas, improve the ability of wildlife to travel freely within sites, and allow staff to adequately manage habitats and the transitions between them.