Volunteer for Nature

Volunteers are needed across Illinois—in cities, suburbs and rural areas—to help care for green spaces and share the wonders of nature with others.

A seedling is held by a volunteer's hands, showing it to the group of children around them.
Volunteers with plants Volunteers install a rain and pollinator garden at a Chicago Public School. © Sandy Bressner

Roll Up Your Sleeves—and Make a Difference

About 30 years ago, The Nature Conservancy partnered with the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission to help provide capacity to agencies managing designated nature preserves. Over time, the Volunteer Stewardship Network (VSN) expanded to include other natural areas, park districts, and community gardens and other green spaces.

Today, VSN supports more than 140 groups across Illinois that are caring for nature and their local communities.

Volunteer opportunities vary from removing invasive species and collecting native plant seeds to monitoring birds, tending community gardens and connecting communities to nature through outdoor programming. There is a role for everybody: Individuals, families or groups. Those interested in community science. Those who want to inspire the next generation or lead tours of natural areas. And those who prefer to break a sweat, pick up a tool and get their hands dirty.

Find Volunteer Opportunities by Zip Code

It’s easy to find volunteer opportunities near you. Simply enter your address or zip code in the search function below. If you cannot find an opportunity that appeals to you, please contact for assistance.

    Looking for TNC Volunteer Opportunities?

    Five TNC natural areas and programs regularly enlist volunteers: Nachusa Grasslands, Indian Boundary Prairies, Kankakee Sands, Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie and the Illinois River Program. We’d appreciate your help!

    Funding Opportunities

    The TNC Illinois chapter's VSN is currently accepting applications for both the 2023 VSN Stewardship Fund and VSN Community Convening Fund. Volunteer and community leaders can learn more about these opportunities at one of these five virtual information sessions:

    • Friday, June 9 at 12pm
    • Wednesday, June 14 at 3:30pm
    • Wednesday, June 21 at 9am
    • Monday, June 25 at 12pm
    • Tuesday, July 11 at 11am

    Each session will last about 60-90 minutes. Register for one of these sessions and/or submit your applications to Brooke Thurau by emailing the below form(s) to by Friday, July 14.

    2023 Funding Applications