Volunteer in Illinois

Community Science

A group of volunteers monitoring monarch butterfly population in a prairie
Monarch monitoring in Chicago Sacred Keepers Sustainability Lab students monitoring monarch butterflies in milkweed patches along the Burnham Corridor in Chicago on Friday, August 3, 2018. Students plants counted, eggs found (including life status of egg), caterpillars in various life stages and number of adults seen in area. © Laura Stoecker

Taking the Pulse of Our Natural Areas

The conservation community relies heavily on volunteers to not only restore natural areas, but to help gauge the success of our restoration efforts. Volunteers team up with experienced stewards and scientists to monitor the recovery of native habitats, or to record data on rare species of wildflowers, butterflies and other wildlife. Below is a listing of several ecological monitoring programs offered by various organizations. Monitoring of species not only provides valuable information to assist with management decisions, but provides an exceptional opportunity for volunteers to learn more about that species and how to protect it.

Illinois Butterfly Monitoring Network
Learn how to become a monitor of native butterfly populations.

Plants of Concern Rare Plant Monitoring Program
Learn about Illinois’ rare plants and how monitoring will help protect and restore these natural treasures.

Dragonfly Monitoring Network
Learn about and monitor these predators of the wetlands. This project includes both dragonfly and damselfly populations.

Healthy Trees, Healthy Cities
Find online training and tools to help improve the health of America’s trees.

Bird Conservation Network
Learn scientific protocols and monitor bird populations throughout the Chicago region during the breeding season and throughout the year.

New Invaders Watch Program
Help stop the spread of new invasive species while populations are still small and containable.

Illinois RiverWatch
Learn about and monitor the critters that help to keep our streams and rivers healthy in Illinois.

Chicago Bird Collision Monitors
Join this conservation project, staffed entirely by volunteers, dedicated to the protection of migratory birds through rescue, advocacy and outreach.

Flint Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation
Join a recovery team and patrol buildings in downtown Chicago each morning during bird migration.

Illinois Beach State Park Hawk Watch
Identify and count south-bound migrating diurnal raptors and Turkey vultures annually from the last weekend in August until the end of November.

Xerces Society
Monitor invertebrates including monarchs, fireflies, bumblebees and many more.

Bee Spotter
Learn about these pollinators and contribute data about honeybee and bumblebee populations.

Monarch Watch
Learn how to protect monarchs through education, conservation and research opportunities.

Illinois Mycological Society
Join a foray to look for mushrooms in the field or participate in monthly evening programs to learn about fungi.

Project Squirrel
Submit photos and monitor native squirrels in your neighborhood. This project is suitable for all ages!

Universal Floristic Quality Assessment Calculator
Sign up for this free, online program that helps volunteer stewards and land managers assesses natural area condition based on Floristic Quality Assessment.

Dixon National Tallgrass Prairie Seed Bank (Chicago Botanic Garden)
Help preserve the native species found in the region by collecting seed from specific native species that are integral to the tallgrass prairie biome of the midwestern United States.

Rapid Color Field Guides (The Field Museum)
Download a variety of color field guides to help with the identification of a variety of native species and wildlife.

Calling Frog Survey
Learn about and monitor frogs in Illinois! The goal of this project is to glean long-term data about amphibian trends in key areas.