Volunteer for Nature


Forest Preserves of Will County

Photo © Forest Preserves of Will County

VSN Stewardship Fund


"As an agency that has no staff specifically dedicated full-time to natural resources management, the Downers Grove Park District relies heavily on volunteers to help maintain and restore our two high quality nature preserves. Due to several years of budget cuts, our inventory of tools and management supplies has suffered and aged. VSN funding helps us replace equipment and continue the critical volunteer work necessary to maintain both natural areas."
~ Shannon Forsythe, Manager of Natural Resources & Interpretive Services, Downers Grove Park District

The VSN Stewardship Fund is a program that helps build the capacity of local volunteer groups. The Fund was originally created to address the budget shortfalls of landowning organizations and to encourage them to manage their natural areas through volunteer stewardship. Today, the program continues to fill the gaps of small budgets and now also serves as an incubator for new projects that can be funded and shared widely throughout the state.

In 2016, we awarded funding to 26 volunteer groups within the VSN for tools that are critical to stewardship of natural lands including items such as bow saws, brush cutters, chainsaw safety equipment, herbicide to treat invasive plants, backpack sprayers and two-way radios for prescribed fires. These funds also helped to pay for local newsletters, websites, and the development and printing of educational materials. Collectively, these groups work on 500 natural areas in 25 counties. In 2016, they engaged 7,353 volunteers that contributed more than 70,942 volunteer hours.

How to Apply to the VSN Stewardship Fund (click here for more information.)

Groups Funded in 2016:

  • Champaign County Forest Preserve District
  • Citizens for Conservation
  • The Conservation Foundation
  • Conserve Lake County
  • Desplaines River Valley Restoration Project
  • Fermilab Natural Areas
  • Forest Preserves of Winnebago County
  • Friends of Hosah Prairie
  • Friends of Langham Island
  • Green Earth, Inc
  • Habitat 2030
  • Henry County Natural Area Guardians
  • Jo Daviess Conservation Foundation
  • Jubilee Prairie Dawgs
  • Land Conservancy of McHenry County
  • Libertyville Township Open Space District
  • Natural Lands Institute
  • Natural Area Volunteers of McHenry County
  • Peoria Wilds
  • Plants of Concern
  • Poplar Creek Prairie Stewards
  • Prairie Land Conservancy
  • Santa Fe Prairie Volunteers
  • Shoal Creek Volunteers




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