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

Flora & fauna aren’t the only things growing around here – our volunteers are growing (by learning) too! Join Jen/us for some preserve/garden caretaking and discover a bit of interesting natural history at the same time. Please note that you do not need to complete a volunteer application to participate in fall work days.

Thursdays: Stewardship Work Days

Volunteers will control invasive species such as common and glossy buckthorn, restore our prairie by introducing native plants, and keep the native gardens weed-free to give our 30,000 young natives unencumbered space to establish their root systems.

WHEN: Thursdays at 2 - 4 pm (September 12 - October 31)
WHERE: Gardeners Cottage in Venema Plaza & Gardens (opposite the Bunker Interpretive Center)
BRING: A water bottle and work gloves if you use them. Please dress in layers for the weather. Sunscreen, hat, long pants/sleeves, and closed-toe shoes are strongly recommended.
WORKDAY LEADER: Jen Howell
SPECIAL NOTE: October 31 is Spooky Stewardship Day! Volunteers are encouraged to work in costumes, and a prize will be awarded for the most creative.

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 1 through 5 during June and July in which to volunteer. Parents: rest assured, youth volunteers will be supervised by preserve staff.

For more information

Read our 2019 Camp Assistant flyer.

To be a Camp Assistant

Please complete an application.

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