Volunteering and What to Expect

What is a Steward?

A steward is a volunteer who has been vetted by the Forest Preserve District of Kane County, and granted permission to host workdays that help restore the preserve to its natural state. They work under the supervision of the Volunteer Coordinator and Natural Resources Manager, submitting reports of their work at the end of each month.

Who can Attend?

Workdays are open to all members of the public, and volunteers of all ages are encouraged to attend. They are typically held on Saturdays, from 9am to noon, although evening events are often scheduled during the summer.

While not neccessary, it is recommended that new volunteers email the steward before attending their first workday. This way the steward knows to expect you, but more importantly, has a way to contact you should the workday be cancelled.

Due to a limited set of tools, the steward may not be able to accomodate large groups that just show up on the day. That would be be a shame. Therefore we ask that you contact the stewards ahead of time, so he can can plan ahead and make arrangements for additional tools.

What to Wear

It is important to dress appropriately for a workday, taking into account the weather conditions, the hazards that may be encountered, and the type of work to be performed. At minimum, this means long pants and sturdy shoes.

I have witnessed volunteers show up to events in shorts, only to regret it when they have to navigate through brush and thorny vegetation. This is the same reason why I always were long-sleeved shirts, as brushing up against plants can leave my arms ichy and irritated. If you prefer to wear short sleeves in summer, then that is your call.

What to Bring

The only thing you need to bring to a workday — besides yourself and perhaps a dozen friends — are your own work gloves and a bottle of water.

Gloves are a neccessity for all workday activities, and while I sometimes have spare gloves to share, that is not always a given. This is why I ask you to come prepared.

In the summer, you may want to bring sunscreen and bug spray, but don't be afraid to use any the steward brings along.

All tools, PPE and herbicide are provided by the steward, courtesy of the District. If you do possess your own loppers, handsaw or pruners, then by all means, feel free to bring them along.

Safety and Procedures

Safety is a priority at all workdays - and volunteers must be aware of the various hazards working at a forest preserve presents. Certain gas-powered tools, such as chainsaws, brushsaws and weedwhips can only be operated by volunteers who have completed orientation and attended the corresponding safety class. Similarly, herbicide use requires a state license, which must be obtained annually by after completing the online training.

You can learn more about safety under the Safety section