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Volunteer stewardship

A volunteer wearing gloves, long pants, long sleeves and a sun hat, walks through an area with a garbage bag looking for invasive plants to remove

Volunteer stewardship

Preserving our natural areas is at the heart of our stewardship efforts, and with your help we’re working towards our mission of conserving and restoring the landscapes of our state parks.

Our efforts include invasive species removal through stewardship workdays, photo monitoring to document changes over time, monitoring rare insects, identifying early stages of forest disease and much more.

Workdays

Volunteer stewardship workdays engage volunteers through hands-on restoration and education as they help remove invasive plants threatening high-quality ecosystems in state parks across southern lower Michigan.

Volunteers learn plant identification, see rare ecosystems, connect with others and more. No experience is necessary and equipment and instruction are provided.

calendar

Find a workday

Check our volunteer calendar to find upcoming workdays. Exact location information (GPS coordinates for the workday meeting place) can be found on the event details for each workday on the calendar.

permit required

Register

Please email your name, phone number and the date/location you wish to participate to:

email signup

Stewardship emails

Sign up to receive emails about workdays in a park near you.

Workday information

White work boot graphic on blue circle

Wear long pants, work boots, gloves, eye protection. Waterproof boots (knee-high rubber boots or waders) recommended for wetland sites - we have a limited supply to borrow. Gear should be free of mud and seeds to avoid spread of invasive species!

icon for cancelled event depicting a white calendar with an "X" on a blue circle

If a workday must be canceled due to inclement weather (or any other reason), registered participants will receive an email at least two hours ahead of the scheduled meeting time. Please be sure to check your email before heading out!

Icon for youth and groups depicted with white outline of larger and smaller person on blue cirlce

Youth under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian who must sign a volunteer release and waiver of liability form for the minor. If participating with an organized youth group, the group leader may sign instead.

A moment in time: Inside our photo monitoring efforts

Volunteers and stewardship staff play important roles in photo monitoring, which provides critical data that assist in identifying proper management approaches. These time-lapse videos reveal the ways natural areas change over time.

Protecting animal and plant species, and the natural areas in which they live, is at the heart of photo monitoring efforts in our state parks. It’s a longstanding project – starting in the 1990s – that reveals how dunes, forests, marshes and other landscapes change over time.

Individual volunteer opportunities

Interested in volunteering on your own? Some training and coordination is required; however, once you are trained, these activities can be performed whenever it is convenient for you! If you're interested, please email Kelsey Dietz or call 517-388-8517.

Bird surveys

Gather baseline bird data or monitor known populations of rare birds in select areas of certain parks. 

Forest health watch

Learn to identify the early stages of forest diseases, so we can detect and treat cases at the early stage. 

Galerucella beetle redistribution

Help collect Galerucella beetles, purple loosestrife's natural enemy, and redistribute them to wetlands. 

Insect monitoring

Help us determine whether we have rare insects in some of our highest quality ecosystems. 

Invasive plant mapping

Help map patches of invasive plants. This data will help us plan where to focus future restoration efforts. 

Invasive plant removal

Help pull herbaceous. These non-native plants out compete native plants and lead to low biological diversity.

Kirtland's Warbler census volunteer

Experienced birders are needed to help complete the Kirtland's warbler census.

Native planting

In May, June and September, native plants are planted at select parks. 

Native prairie seed collection

Hand collect native prairie seed in October and early November.

Belle Isle trees

Tree care

With support from hundreds of volunteers, more than 150 native, local genotype trees have been planted in Belle Isle Park. Volunteers interested in helping to care for these newly planted trees will work closely with the DNR to ensure their success. Please contact Kelsey Dietz to learn more.

Tree planting and partnerships

The Belle Isle Canopy Work Group works toward increasing tree canopy cover and protection in day-use areas. Interested organizations and individuals may submit project proposals and ideas for increasing tree cover or aiding in tree protection by contacting Heidi Frei, state park forest health specialist, by Sept. 30 each year.