Photo © Poplar Creek Prairie Stewards
The best stewardship training comes simply from volunteering and working shoulder-to-shoulder with others in the field. Experienced volunteer stewards hold dozens of workdays, wildflower walks and other nature related activities throughout the year to help you get started. Most new volunteers simply show up and pitch in - no experience is required.
Typical workday activities include cutting and pulling of invasive brush and weeds or collecting and sowing native seeds. If you are interested in a deeper educational experience, you can be trained under an experienced volunteer steward to become a site steward or co-steward (check with your local volunteer coordinator or leader if this option is available). You can also take advantage of several programs to broaden your knowledge. Below is a sample of some of those formal certification programs.
Illinois Master Naturalists Program
These science-based educational opportunities connect people with nature and help them become engaged environmental stewards.
Woodland Stewardship Program
(The Morton Arboretum)
This program provides volunteer leaders the knowledge and experience necessary to serve as a woodland steward or as a steward supervisor. Major concepts include: principles of ecology, conservation, and restoration; plant identification; techniques to manage pests and invasive species; strategies and techniques for management of local ecosystems; and practical approaches for organizing natural areas management.
Take action to care for and protect trees in your community by becoming an Openlands TreeKeeper® volunteer. You will join a corps of volunteers dedicated to trees in our urban forest of cities and suburbs. Training includes tree biology, soils, tree identification, pruning, tree selection and more.
Kane County Certified Naturalist Program
The Kane County Certified Naturalists program is sponsored by Forest Preserve District of Kane County, the St. Charles Park District, and the Geneva Park District. Now in its 10th year, this award-wining program provides in-depth learning about local and regional ecology. The program is for ages 18 and older.
The Center for Conservation Leadership Certificate Program
This year-long program is targeted to students completing 8th and 9th grades in the current school year who love being outside, exploring the natural world and becoming stewards of the environment.