NLI’s Volunteer Opportunities

The Natural Land Institute has many opportunities available for volunteer service. Please view the descriptions of the various jobs. Give us a call at (815) 964-6666 if you have any questions about taking part in saving nature in our region.

Stewardship Days

Individuals or groups who wish to participate in one of the following volunteer Stewardship Days should contact Zach Grycan, Director of Stewardship, for more information and to confirm participation at 920/912-4338, or Ed Cope, Restoration Ecologist, at (815)601-4665, You are welcome to help during the entire time listed for that stewardship day or for part of the day. Please let Zach, Ed or one of the other volunteer coordinators know what time to expect you.

What to bring:
NLI provides tools, gloves, and water (and sometimes special snacks!). If you plan to stay through lunch, you may want to bring a sack lunch. Dress for the weather. Long sleeves, pants, and sturdy boots are recommended.

Nygren Wetland Preserve
Address: 3190 W. Rockton Rd., Rockton IL  61072
9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

NLI’s most ambitious restoration to date hosts a complex of habitats and rare species. Volunteer tasks include control and removal of bush honeysuckle and garlic mustard or other invasive species, planting/collecting seeds, helping in the greenhouse, planting plugs, general maintenance, bird and mammal monitoring, prescribed burns, and set-up for special events. Enjoy the beauty of the prairies and wetlands while you work.

Burr Oak Valley Preserve
Directions: meet across from
Cross and Crown Lutheran Church, 7404 Elevator Rd., Roscoe, IL 61073
Saturdays/ 9:00 a.m to 3:00 p.m. Mondays/ 9:00 a.m to 12:00 p.m.

The rare habitats found here were in peril until you stepped in to help out. Play a role in tackling the invasive threats in the remnant prairies and woodlands of this preserve. Tasks include removing and controlling the non-native woody brush, prescribed burns and seed collection. Enjoy fresh air, exercise and the beauty of this special place while you work.

Silver Creek Woods Preserve
Directions: 5753 Prairie Rd., Rockford, IL  61102, a few miles southwest of town, just north of Fuller Memorial Forest Preserve.
9:00 a.m to 3:00 p.m.

Additional Contact Person:
Site Steward,
Dion Faith, (815)520-6916,

Join us at this preserve, originally donated to NLI by our founders George and Barbara Fell, to assist with a variety of restoration work including the removal and treatment of bush honeysuckle and common buckthorn, and burning of brush piles. Explore the beauty of this private natural area while you provide community service. You never know, you might see a rare bird, mammal or plant.

Howard D. Colman Dells Nature Preserve, Directions: the entrance is two tenths of a mile north of 12580 N. Weldon Rd., Rockford, IL  61102  or GPS: 42.201612,-89.194844
10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Discover an array of plant life on the rocky dells along Hall Creek and throughout the hilly preserve as you help remove and control invasive species like bush honeysuckle, garlic mustard, Japanese barberry, and multiflora rose, among other plants. Assist with burning brush piles. Enjoy the tranquility while you help protect this preserve.

Volunteer Monitoring Training

If you would like more information about becoming a Volunteer Monitor, please email Zach at

Please click here to view the Volunteer Mointoring Training Manual.

Please click here to view the Volunteer Monitoring Training PowerPoint.

Contact Kim Johnsen, Director of Marketing and Membership about the following opportunities at or 815/964-6666.

Set up displays and distribute information at events

Help spread the word about the work of Natural Land Institute.

Education Committee

Members of this committee help Natural Land Institute staff educate youth about natural areas while assisting with land stewardship activities.

Marketing & Membership Committee

Members of this committee work on recruiting new members for NLI, plan and work at events, and help with promotional efforts.