Citizen Science


Oakstreet Beach monitoring

Photo © Alliance for the Great Lakes

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.

Plants of Concern Rare Plant Monitoring Program

Learn about Illinois’ rare plants and how monitoring will help protect and restore these natural treasures.

Calling Frog and Toad Surveys

Learn native frog sounds and help to monitor their populations each spring.

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, bumble bees much 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 ( 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 identification of a variety of native species and wildlife.



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