Volunteer with The Nature Conservancy

Help Us Regenerate Ohio's Forests


A closeup of acorns resting on green moss.
Edge of Appalachia Preserve Acorn sitting on a bed of moss. © TJ Vissing

Help our reforestation efforts by collecting and donating seeds and nuts from black walnut, oaks, hickories, hackberry and Ohio buckeye.

Volunteer Overview

We're asking volunteers to help us regenerate Ohio's forests by collecting tree nuts from their own yards or other public areas and delivering them to The Nature Conservancy's office in Dublin, Ohio.

Each year, we restore hundreds of acres of degraded land. Our restoration target is often forest, but getting trees to grow is easier said than done. Using tree nuts and seeds can have significant advantages over planting trees established in a nursery setting. It can also help to save money since seeds can be sourced from local populations that are better adapted to the region’s soils and climate. Individual trees are healthier when they develop entirely in situ, and it's often easier to supplement with seeds in future years to hedge against drought, heavy predation and other causes of mortality.

In person work
Central Ohio
Central Ohio
6:00 AM-11:59 PM ET

Species We're Seeking:

Black walnut (Juglans nigra)
Pin oak (Quercus palustris)
Red oak (Quercus rubra)
Shingle oak (Quercus imbricaria)
Bitternut hickory (Carya cordiformis)
Shagbark hickory (Carya ovata)
Shellbark hickory (Carya laciniosa)
Hackberry (Celtis occidentalis)
Ohio buckeye (Aesculus glabra)

Need Help with Tree ID?

Check out the Trees of Ohio Field Guide, published by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife.

Collecting Tree Nuts

Be sure you have permission to collect! Avoid collecting from protected natural areas and focus on trees in local parks or along streets, parking lots or your own yard. Nuts are easy to collect when they’re sitting on pavement.

Close-up of round, green shagbark hickory fruit.
Close-up of red oak acorns on tree branch.
Close-up of spiky yellow Ohio buckeye nuts on a leafy branch.
Close-up of small green hackberry fruit on a leafy tree branch.
Close-up of pin oak acorns on a branch.

Interested in Learning More?

Check out the slide deck from the presentation offered on September 12 for an overview of how tree nuts will be used in restoration projects throughout the state and how to collect and process nuts for donation.

How to Collect and Process Tree Nuts

Take note of where nuts were collected, recording the species, county, location, date collected and your contact information. Include a few leaves from the tree and a husk from the nut to help confirm the species. 

Remove the husk (for hickories and buckeye) or cap (for oaks), saving only the nut inside. If possible, soak oak nuts for 1-24 hours after collecting to hydrate them.

Store collected oak, hickory and buckeye nuts (along with the collected leaves and husks) in plastic, sealable bags. Black walnuts and hackberries can be stored in yard waste bags or buckets. Include the recorded information noted above either on a slip of paper placed inside the bag or written in permanent marker on the outside of the bag. For oaks and buckeyes, include a moist paper towel in the bag to prevent the nuts from drying. Keep sealed bags in a refrigerator and paper bags/buckets in a cool, shady place until you’re ready to deliver them to TNC.

Deliver seeds and nuts to TNC's main office in Dublin, Ohio, located at 6375 Riverside Dr., Suite 100, Dublin on Wednesday, October 11 between 9 a.m and 5 p.m. or Wednesday, November 8 between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Reach out to Liss Whiting at clarissa.whiting@tnc.org for alternative drop-off options.