Macon County Conservation District Volunteer Opportunities
Every year, hundreds of volunteers make an invaluable contribution to the operation of Macon County’s conservation areas and historic sites. Whether greeting visitors or assisting with programs, our volunteers help the Conservation District serve the residents of Macon County.
“If you ever wanted to help make a difference in our community there are opportunities for you with the Macon County Conservation District.”
Volunteers like you help us maintain more than 3,300 acres of natural areas, and offer hundreds of school programs, special events, hikes, and weekend programs throughout the year across all of Macon County, Illinois. You’ll find indoor and outdoor volunteer opportunities available year-round.
Taking the Step to Volunteer
Volunteers are essential to the conservation district and its mission. In 2016, a total of 488 volunteers donated about 12,300 hours of their time. We invite you to join the volunteer team!
Commonly asked questions:
- How often can I volunteer? We let you decide! Some volunteers help once or twice a year. Other volunteers help once a month, or even once a week.
- What can I do? We have something for everyone! Opportunities include the following areas: Rock Springs Nature Center, Educational Outreach, Conservation Support, Historical Interpretation, Youth Programs, and Seasonal & Special Events.
- What are the benefits of volunteering for the Macon County Conservation District? Volunteer opportunities throughout our community can offer volunteers life long learning, new friendships, and has been linked to improved health. Volunteers at the Macon County Conservation District will receive two of our newsletter publications: Volunteer Quarterly and Prairie Islander. Volunteers that help through the Prairie Heritage Program will also receive the Astounder newsletter.
- How do I sign up? Fill out a Volunteer Application. Return your completed application to Rock Springs Nature Center or drop it in the mail. All potential applicants are interviewed and placed in an area suited to their interests and abilities. As you fill out your application and browse volunteer opportunities, feel free to contact us with any questions at (217) 423-7708.
For more information, call (217) 423-7708 or email [email protected].
How You Can Help at the Macon County Conservation District
Cross Country Ski Rental
Rock Springs Nature Center, Activity Room
Once we have at least 4” of snow on the ground, the public may rent cross country skis from Rock Springs Nature Center. We are looking for volunteers that wish to be placed on our call list to assist with rentals. Staff will train you the day you volunteer. Added bonus: Every day you volunteer with ski rentals, you earn 2 hours of free ski or snowshoe rental for yourself. For more information, or to sign up, contact Jeff Tish at 217-423-7708 or [email protected].
Natural Area Restoration
Opportunities Available All Year Round
Volunteers are needed to assist in the removal of invasive species from district areas and help protect wildlife diversity. There are many opportunities available, some of which include prescribed burning, removing fencing, and removing bush honeysuckle. For more information, contact Ethan Snively at (217) 423-6796 or [email protected].
Homestead Prairie Farm Volunteers
Rock Springs Conservation Area
June through October
Saturdays and Sundays from 1-4pm
The Homestead Prairie Farm is a historic treasure that links us to our past. Young and old are amazed as they step back into time and learn about our local history. On the weekends, programs and tours are provided by staff, volunteers, and guest presenters to bring this historic home to life. If you love history, we would love to have you join us! For more information, contact Brent Wielt at 217-423-7708 or [email protected].
Upcoming Volunteer Events & Opportunities
How You Can Volunteer
Rock Springs Nature Center
Rock Springs Nature Center offers many indoor and outdoor volunteer opportunities. Some activities include:
Volunteers stationed at the Information Desk inside the nature center greet patrons, answer questions, and assist staff with various projects. Morning and afternoon shifts are available every day of the week.
The conservation district’s library holds a generous collection of books and periodicals for Macon County residents to use. Volunteers staff the reference library, help people find materials, and catalog items.
With several thousand Prairie Islander newsletters mailed out quarterly each year, we need volunteers to help put a mailing address labels on each newsletter! This opportunity occurs four times a year.
Volunteers help with special projects from time to time. For example, database entry, bird house building, photography, or cutting out items for craft projects, just to name a few. Ask us about special projects to see if there is something for you!
Work with education staff to help bring exciting programs to your community. Volunteers assist with presentations, special events, or work with the thousands of school children who visit the district each year. We will provide any necessary training. Volunteer options include:
- School Programs
- Workshop Presentations
- Hike Leaders
Volunteers assist with many projects at all the conservation areas. You can help to preserve beautiful natural areas, monitor critical bird species, and count wildlife. Volunteers are needed for projects such as:
Bluebird Trail Monitor
Throughout the spring and summer seasons volunteers monitor bluebird houses at several district sites collecting data on the bluebird population.
Natural Restoration Volunteers
Help remove invasive species from district areas and protect wildlife diversity. A variety of opportunities are available throughout the year including collecting native plant seeds, pulling garlic mustard plants, and bringing the sugar maple population back under control.
Volunteers hike district trails on a monthly basis monitoring condition, litter, wildlife, and trail use. The conservation district maintains trails at Rock Springs, Griswold, Fort Daniel, Friends Creek, and Sand Creek Conservation Areas.
Every year thousands of school children visit the district for programs and nature hikes. Volunteers are always needed to lead hikes and assist staff with educational programs. Most programs take place at Rock Springs Conservation Area.
Join talented staff in bringing Macon County history to life! Opportunities abound during history events and at historic sites, including:
Prairie Heritage Volunteer
The Homestead Prairie Farm located at Rock Springs Conservation Area is a period 1860 home used to make the days before the Civil War come to life for visitors. Volunteers help lead tours throughout the year and assist with maintenance through projects such as painting, sidewalk repair, and other light mechanical projects as needed. Stay up to date on these volunteer opportunities by subscribing to the Homestead Prairie Astounder newsletter or attending the monthly meeting.
Volunteers come together every other week at Rock Springs Nature Center to practice playing the dulcimer instrument. This group also performs throughout the year at district events or programs and throughout the community.
Quilting or Sewing
A group of quilters meets every Wednesday at Rock Springs Nature Center to demonstrate quilting the old-fashioned way. These volunteers also help sew period clothing for Homestead Prairie Farm volunteers. Sewing projects can be completed in your home. Volunteers will need their own sewing machine if they desire to use one.
Governor Oglesby Mansion
Throughout the year groups schedule luncheons and dinners at the mansion and volunteers are always needed to cook and help serve the meals. Volunteers may also lead tours through the mansion for the public. These unique opportunities are a lot of fun and a chance to spend some time in one of Decatur’s premier historical houses. The Governor Oglesby Mansion is located at 421 W. William St., Decatur, IL.
Ground Squirrels Vintage Base Ball Team
The Ground Squirrels play the game of base ball as it was played in 1860. The team competes against other vintage ball clubs across the region. Their home field is located at Rock Springs Conservation Area.
Young volunteers can make a difference in the community, too. They’ll learn about nature and our rich cultural heritage as they help in areas such as:
- Summer Camp Youth Leaders
- Historical Program Assistance
- Environmental Program Assistance
Seasonal & Special Events
Cross Country Ski Rental
Whenever there is at least four inches of snow on the ground, the district rents skis to the public. Volunteers help collect money and assist with handing out equipment. This volunteer assignment is on an on-call basis, depending on weather conditions.
Summer Day Camp Volunteer
These volunteers assist camp counselors with activities, hikes, and coordinating day camps. Volunteers attend a short training session and are required to wear a camp t-shirt and name tag when they volunteer. We offer both nature and history themed camps.
Festival of Spring
This one-day festival happens every April and a large number of dedicated volunteers are needed to greet visitors, help with children’s activities, canoeing, and much more!
This annual event takes place at Friends Creek Conservation Area in late summer. Volunteers help with children’s crafts, hand out door prizes, and assist the public with telescopes.
This bicycle fundraising event occurs every September and is sponsored by the Macon County Conservation Foundation. Proceeds benefit natural area restoration efforts. Volunteers assist with registration, food service, and at rest stops along the bicycle routes.
Fall Harvest Festival
Held annually in October, this fall festival needs volunteers to help with children’s crafts and activities, marshmallow roasting, storytelling, and more.