Volunteers are an integral part of the beauty, preservation, education and great programs happening at the Calvin Ecosystem Preserve & Native Gardens.

Adult volunteer opportunities

Our volunteers will find a welcoming, supportive, and appreciative environment here. Would you like to work in the peace of the Preserve, or do you prefer to work with a group of curious children? Would you like to help out for a day, or prefer to contribute year-round? Do you want to get exercise, or do you want to get creative? Whatever your interests are, we do our best to find ways for you to share your talents on your schedule.

There are many ways you can be a part of the exciting things happening at the Preserve:

  • Maintain/create trails
  • Plant native species around the Preserve
  • Collect seeds for propogation in our greenhouses
  • Assist with invasive species control
  • Lead educational programs for children/adults
  • Develop/write educational materials
  • Create displays
  • Assist with special events such as the Native Plant Sale or Family Weekend Open House
  • Office/clerical support
  • Research funding sources/write grants
  • Share expertise (financial, legal, etc.)

Current volunteer needs

We are happy to be approved to offer outdoor service experiences for Calvin students, staff and faculty this spring. Without the ability to host community volunteers, we will greatly appreciate your assistance. A volunteer application is not necessary for these activities.

Native Plant Propagation

Join us as we mix soil, transplant native plant seedlings and plugs into pots, weed, and number plant sale tags in preparation for our native plant sale and restoration projects. We meet rain or shine.

WHEN: March 2 - May 5, 2021 on Tuesdays at 2 - 4:30 pm │ Wednesdays at 3 - 5 pm │ Saturdays at 9:30 - 11:30 am (except April 3)
WHERE: Lake Drive Greenhouse, at 3770 Lake Drive SE, GR 49546. You may come by car or via the Wildlife Sanctuary trail (15-20 minute hike; a map will be e-mailed to you). If coming by car: The house is on the south side of the road; the address is on a white mailbox. You can see the greenhouse at the end of the driveway.
Registration REQUIRED: Opportunities are limited to enable social distancing, so please register here before attending. You are welcome to come late or leave early as your schedule allows, just let us know your availability when you sign up so we can greet you when you arrive.
Be prepared: Please bring a water bottle and mask. Dress in layers for the weather as the greenhouse can be warm and also some days we will be working outside. Tools are provided but bring your own work gloves if you prefer. Restrooms, water and hand sanitizer will be available.

Preserve Stewardship

Join us as we remove invasive species, maintain the trails, and also plant natives and remove weeds in restoration areas.

WHEN:  March 3 - May 5, 2021 on Wednesdays at 1:30 - 3:30 pm
WHERE:  Check in at the Gardeners Cottage in Venema Plaza & Gardens (opposite the Bunker Interpretive Center)
Registration REQUIRED:  Opportunities are limited to enable social distancing, so please contact Jen Howell (Land Manager) at jlh89@calvin.edu or (616) 526-2576 before attending. You are welcome to come late or leave early as your schedule allows, just let Jen know your availability so she can greet you when you arrive.
Be prepared:  Please bring a water bottle and mask. Dress in layers for the weather. Long pants/sleeves and closed-toe shoes are strongly recommended. Tools are provided but bring your own work gloves if you prefer. Restrooms, water and hand sanitizer will be available.

Ongoing volunteer needs

Land stewards

Volunteer are need to assist our Land Manager in restoration and monitoring projects.In return, volunteers will gain valuable work experience related to conservation and ecological restoration. Volunteers can look forward to hands-on experiences with practical aspects of natural resource management including native plant identification, ecological monitoring and practical strategies for controlling invasive plants common to the Midwest.

Educational program leaders

If you enjoy working with children and sharing your love of the outdoors, becoming a program leader may be for you. Leaders guide elementary school groups through the Preserve, presenting a variety of specifically designed environmental education programs. Leaders need to be knowledgeable about Michigan flora and fauna and/or be willing to learn, and must be able to communicate their knowledge in a professional and educational way. Prior experience teaching and/or working with children is preferred. Programs take place during the school year 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Time commitments vary. Training is provided.

Artists, crafters, and carpenters

We are often in need of talented people for various creative projects at the Preserve. For example, we would love to make more puppets and backdrops for our puppet theater, as well as props for teaching. Let us know how you would like to share your creative flair!

To be an adult volunteer

To help with any of the activities listed above, please complete an adult volunteer application. (Note to Mac users: you must complete this application using Adobe Reader, not Preview.)

To discuss other ways in which your talent may contribute to the mission of the Preserve, please contact Julie Wilbourn.

Group volunteer opportunities

Community and corporate groups are welcome to coordinate a private workday with us during the week or weekend. Volunteer activities may include seed collection, invasive species removal, transplanting native plants, trail work, native garden maintenance, and other special projects. We prefer a minimum of at least 8 volunteers to schedule a private workday. Preferred times are 9 am to noon and/ or 1 to 4 pm. Contact Jen Howell, our Land Manager, for more information and to arrange a workday.

Youth volunteer opportunities

If you are 12-17 years old, like to have fun and learn about nature at the same time, and are looking for a rewarding experience this summer, join our team of Volunteer Camp Assistants! Camp Assistants enjoy working with younger children (ages 4-8), like to be creative, and want to enrich their leadership skills. These teens choose one or two weeks from Wetlands & Woodlands camp sessions 1A through 4B during June and July in which to volunteer. Parents: rest assured, youth volunteers will be supervised by preserve staff.

For more information

2021 Camp Assistant flyer coming soon

To be a Camp Assistant

Summer 2021 application coming soon