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

Spring is coming and with its arrival are many opportunities here at the preserve for you to get your hands dirty! Enjoy fresh air, exercise, and the reward of protecting our native landscapes during our two volunteer days each week. Please note that you do not need to complete a volunteer application to participate in spring work days.

Mondays: Greenhouse Days - CANCELED

Volunteers will 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.

WHEN: Mondays at 2:30 - 4:30 pm (March 2 - May 11)
WHERE: Lake Drive Greenhouse, at 3770 Lake Drive SE, GR 49546. 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.
BRING: A water bottle and work gloves if you use them. Dress in layers as the greenhouse can be warm. Some days we will also be working outside, so dress for the weather.
WORKDAY LEADERS: Jeanette Henderson, Abigail Triemstra

Thursdays: Stewardship Days - CANCELED

Volunteers will control invasive species such as common and glossy buckthorn, keep our young Native Gardens and the Prince Pond restoration area weed-free, and expand the prairie by introducing native plants.

WHEN: Thursdays at 2 - 4 pm (March 12 - May 14)
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.

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

Read our 2020 Camp Assistant flyer.

To be a Camp Assistant

Please complete a summer 2020 application.