Volunteer Opportunities

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 or fax it to SWMLC at 6851 S. Sprinkle Road, Portage, MI 49002.  Fax (269) 324-9760.

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


 

Upcoming Workdays

All workdays occur on Saturdays, from 9 a.m. to Noon, except where indicated.
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 you can email us at ConserveLand@SWMLC.org.

 

July 26 and/or July 27 (Full workday duration/date TBD)

Pilgrim Haven Natural Area, Van Buren County

River Rescue & Trail Blazing

Beat the heat of summer by working along the water near our lovely Lake Michigan shoreline. A natural clay-bottomed creek that meanders through Pilgrim Haven is one of the preserve’s most interesting features, but has some unnatural debris in the water! Come help clean Dyckman Creek by hauling out cinder blocks, tires, and other rubbish that detracts from the natural beauty of the waterway. After working in the water, we’ll get started on creating new trails that showcase this clean waterway, along with other areas of the preserve. The trail design will be laid out, but the brush will need to be cut back, and ground will need to be cleared to make the trails a reality. As a days end reward, volunteers are of course welcome rinse off or get their feet wet on the beach!

 

August 30

Spirit Springs Sanctuary, Cass County

Let There Be Light   

The red maples are hogging all of the light in the oak woods, and unchecked, can take over this area to the detriment of other plants. We’ve been slowly opening up the canopy of the oak peninsula to bring light to understory wildflowers, sedges, blueberry bushes, and oak seedlings.  We’ve seen a great response by this vegetation from previous workdays. Join us as we push the fast-growing maples back into the wetland to continue restoring this plant community.

 

September 6

Wau-Ke-Na, William Erby Smith Preserve, Allegan County

Preserve the Prairie

One of the most unique plant communities in Wau-Ke-Na is a small patch of wet prairie, with distinctive and uncommon wildflowers and sedges. Without regular disturbance like flooding or fire however, these plants aren’t competitive with aggressive wetland shrubs, which can quickly block necessary light to the lower-growing wildflowers. As summer starts to wind down, get outdoors among the blooming fringed gentian and help us knock back the shrubs for sake of this unique patch of flora.

 

October 18

Hidden Pond Preserve, Barry County

Fall Seed Harvest

With its abundant forests where towering white oaks clad in burgundy stand alongside the road, Barry County puts on a spectacular show of fall color. In the season of harvesting, join us at Hidden Pond to harvest prairie grass and wildflower seed to redistribute in an adjacent area of recent habitat restoration work. The preserve’s rolling hills planted from 2006-2008 have successfully filled in with an abundance of native prairie plants, which now offer plenty of seed for restoring new areas that lack many native plants.

 

November 8

Bow in the Clouds Preserve, Kalamazoo County

Wetland Once-over

Bow in the Clouds Preserve is a testament to the resiliency of nature. It is a place where the land has been used hard in the past, hydrology has been changed, and invasive species have had their heyday. SWMLC staff and volunteers have put some serious effort into invasive brush removal, seed collecting, and burning, and the wetland has sprung back with vigor, displaying an assortment of sedges and wildflowers. Come visit this urban gem and help us tackle a new brushy corner of the wetland, which has yet to reveal to us what surprises it has in store.



 

Wednesday Workday Warriors

 
The Wednesday Workday Warriors began their 12th season on April 9!
 
See the home page of our website for details of their weekly whereabouts.
 
Contact us at ConserveLand@SWMLC.org if you'd like to be added to their email notification list.