Volunteer Opportunities


Upcoming Wednesday Warrior Workdays
Upcoming Workdays


SWMLC volunteers provide immeasurable assistance to our conservation efforts, allowing us to broaden our resources.  There are many different ways to volunteer, depending on your areas of interest.  Volunteers are needed for stewardship, land protection, office, and outreach. Opportunities include: lopping brush, putting up signs, and pulling invasive plants; conducting species inventories; setting up and staffing information tables for events; helping with bulk mailings; and taking photographs on preserves and easements and at special events.

Volunteers also serve on committees such as Stewardship Team, Land Protection Team, and Outreach Team, or on our Board of Directors.

This is only a partial list of ongoing activities for volunteers.  Your support as a volunteer will have a lasting impact on the natural and scenic features that make our region so unique.  Please contact us if you would like more information, or complete our volunteer form and mail to SWMLC at 8395 E. Main St., Galesburg, MI 49053.

[Brian Dobbie working hard to fix erosion.  Photos and montage by Nate Fuller.

Upcoming Workdays!

It's helpful for us to know you're coming so that we can provide enough refreshments and tools for everyone.  Please call our office (269-324-1600) by the Thursday before the workday to let us know you're coming, to join the carpool, or to get directions.
Or email Mitch Lettow at lettow@SWMLC.org. Thanks!



Monday, January 16, 2017: 
Workday in Honor of Dr. 
Martin Luther King at Bow in the Clouds Preserve

Bundle up and head outdoors to see a corner of Kalamazoo you've almost certainly never seen . . . while helping to restore rare habitats at Bow in the Clouds Preserve in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his call to service.

WHEN: Monday, January 16, 2017 (Martin Luther King Day), 9 am - 12 pm

WHERE: Bow in the Clouds Preserve, City of Kalamazoo

BRING: Cold weather gear including gloves, boots, and clothes that you don't mind getting wet and dirty!

DETAILS: Bow in the Clouds is a 60 acre nature preserve within the city limits of Kalamazoo. There is a special set of wetlands that makes up the heart of the preserve, where several clear streams meander through. In addition to providing terrific habitat for unique plants and wildlife, this wetland helps to cleanse water in a "wellhead protection area" for Kalamazoo, designated to protect drinking water for city residents. Although this high-quality wetland is a great resource for the public and for water quality, it needs help. In the past, the hydrology of the wetland has been altered and this disturbance has encouraged invasive plant species to colonize the area. In addition to blocking the view, these invasive plants decrease the value of wildlife habitat, change nutrient cycling, and further impact the hydrology of the site.

Volunteers can help though! We will be conducting a workday on removal and treatment of "glossy buckthorn," the primary invader at Bow in the Clouds. By cutting and sawing these aggressive shrubs with loppers and saws, we can open up sight lines and increase sunlight to the native plants that have shrunken back since the buckthorn's takeover. Due to the "squishy" nature of the wetlands themselves, wintertime (when the ground is usually frozen) is the easiest time to get into the wetland.

SWMLC will provide hot drinks, snacks, and tools for the restoration work. Volunteers should bring appropriate cold weather gear, including gloves, boots, and clothes they don't mind getting snowy and dirty! While walking through and working at the site, volunteers will learn about the plants and animals that call it home, as well as ecology and history of the property. At the end of the day, we will be able to see the positive impact that we have made to the site by the piles of invasive plants left behind to naturally decay in the wetland. We might even be able to get a small outdoor fire going to burn invasive brush and keep ourselves warm during the workday!

DIRECTIONS: The preserve is on Nazareth Road (about one mile west of Sprinkle Road), behind the campus of the former Nazareth College (now home to Transformations Spirituality Center, 3427 Gull Rd.). From Gull Road, turn north onto Nazareth Road. The preserve entrance is about half a mile ahead on the left side of the road. Look for our old gray barn up off the road. 

Please register at Volunteer Kalamazoo's website by clicking here.

Saturday, January 21, 2016: Let There Be Light! – Spirit Springs Sanctuary

The “oak peninsula” is one of the loveliest corners of this preserve and we’ve been fighting to restore botanical diversity to its forest understory in recent years — with some great success. Tromp through the snow and amongst the blueberry bushes, helping us cut and haul aggressive trees that compromise the biodiversity of this woodland.

WHEN: Saturday, January 21, 2016, 1 pm - 4 pm

WHERE: Spirit Springs Sanctuary, Marcellus Twp., Cass Co.

BRING: Weather appropriate footwear and clothes, work gloves, and a favorite pair of loppers or saw if you have them (otherwise SWMLC will provide).

DIRECTIONS: From US-131, take Marcellus Highway/CR 216 west toward Marcellus. Head west for 4 miles, then take a left (south) on Bent Road. Bent Road will “T” into Dutch Settlement Road, where you’ll take a right (west). Go 2.3 miles down the road, you’ll come to the preserve on your right (north side of the road).

RSVPs are always nice. Just send an email to Mitch at lettow@swmlc.org and let him know you're coming!



Wednesday Workday Warriors

Congratulations to all who pitched in this year on our 25 workdays!

It added up to an impressive impact on the places we love.

High praises to Mitch for all the planning, preparation, leadership, and all-around botanical/entomological knowledge he bestowed upon us to keep us on track, even on our most random days. I put together a short summary for the Stewardship Committee, and figured I would include it below for your information as well.

So what to do with your free time now that we've sung kumbaya to summer of 2016?

Wellllll.... how about joining one of the Saturday workdays? Another opportunity is to join the Stewardship Committee. We meet first Wednesday evening of the month, and Nate gives us lots and lots of news about preserves in the works, and the bigger picture of all the stewardship activities. Contact Nate at Fuller@swmlc.org if you want to join the team. It's a chance to share your insights and ideas for what needs to happen next.  I also know that there is a whole barn full of seeds waiting to be sifted and cleaned. It's kind of like a quilting bee where you gather together and socialize while you're working. The more people, the better.

For me, I'll soon be wearing a non-Warrior-like long black dress for the Bach Christmas concert, and getting re-acquainted with my dusty weaving loom upstairs.  And working down my life-threatening stack of books to read.

Thanks to all for a great season! 

— Kristi, WWCheerleader

Anyone is welcome to pitch in to help keep our preserves up to snuff. It's a wonderful way to experience the preserves with the folks who know them best, plus get acquainted with other active people who share the conservation spirit. RSVPs are always nice; just call the office at 269-324-1600 or email conserveland@swmlc.org.


A Quick Peek at Last Week

October 28 - Mushroom Walk with Paul Olexia

As a glorious finale to our successful 13th season, Mitch organized a fine outing at Black River Preserve.

Twenty-four people enjoyed the newly opened preserve in all its finery of spiffy trail markers and signs.

Paul outdid himself explaining all the fungimentals of mushrooms, both above and below ground. What a secret life they lead the rest of the year!  

My one contribution is the shot of Mitch retrieving the oddest piece of trash we've ever seen: a brass light fixture eight feet up in a tree!  Fancy tree stand? Brought in by mylar balloon? Other speculations cheerfully solicited.

Photo credits go to Harry Bird, Mitch lettow, and Gary Tolliver

More pictures to come!