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

Spring and summer workdays occur on Saturdays, from 9 a.m. to Noon.

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.  

You can email Mitch Lettow at lettow@SWMLC.org.


Saturday, September 26, 2015
Sand Creek Preserve, Alamo Township, Kalamazoo County

Prairie Seed Harvest

Sand Creek is SWMLC’s oldest and most well-established tallgrass prairie restoration planting, and its success has served to inform our efforts at prairie restoration among other sites throughout Southwest Michigan. Being the senior prairie in SWMLC’s portfolio, this productive site has become a valuable source for prairie seed, to help other “fledgling” prairies fill in with the high density of native wildflowers and grasses they will ultimately need to ward off invasive plants. Come celebrate and admire the success and beauty of Sand Creek Prairie in early fall, and help us hand-collect seed for
use on other prairie plantings among SWMLC’s preserves.

Directions: From Kalamazoo, head west on West Main St. (aka M-43) until you reach 2nd St. Turn right (north) onto 2nd St., continue driving for a little over 3 miles. Go through the intersection with West FG Ave.; the preserve is on the right soon after that intersection. Look for the SWMLC Workday signs for parking.


Saturday, August 8, 2015
KL Avenue Nature Preserve, Oshtemo Township, Kalamazoo County

Access and Ecology

SWMLC has focused in recent years on providing public access to the beautiful natural areas that we all work to protect, maintain, and restore.  Continuing with the theme of public access and ecological health, we will be working on trails and habitat at KL Avenue Nature Preserve this year.  With increasing foot traffic as we provide access to more people, and the sandy soils of KL, we will need to carefully route and stabilize the preserve’s trails, while simultaneously managing some invasive plants.  Come help with our new trail system and oak savanna habitats for future visitors to enjoy!

Directions: From Kalamazoo, head west on West Main St. (aka M-43) until you reach 4th Street. Turn left (south) onto 4th St., continue about a mile or so until you reach KL Avenue, where you will take a left at the stop sign. The preserve will be just ahead on the right. Look for the SWMLC sign and turn onto the unpaved road to the parking area.


Saturday, July 11, 2015
Pilgrim Haven Natural Area, South Haven, Van Buren County

Make a Monarch Haven

Monarch butterfly populations have been facing tough times in recent years with marked population declines across their range. One of the most grueling times in a monarch’s life cycle is the fall migration from northern breeding grounds, following geographical features such as shorelines to guide them safely on their way to wintering areas in Mexico. We can help by making sure there are plenty of floral “pit stops” where they can refuel their energy reserves. Join us in creating a shoreline Monarch Waystation at Pilgrim Haven Natural Area, where we will prep the site and plant Michigan native plants that provide valuable nectar resources for migrating monarchs and local wildlife.

Email Mitch at lettow@swmlc.org to let him know you're coming and to check for carpool options.

Directions: The preserve is located approximately 4 miles south of South Haven. From the intersection of M-43 and Blue Star Highway, travel south on Blue Star for 3.2 miles. Turn right onto 77th St. for about 1⁄4 mile, then left onto 18th Ave. The preserve is on the right. Please follow the posted signs for parking.


Saturday, June 13, 2015
Kesling Nature Preserve, Three Oaks, Berrien County

Forest Fiends

Kesling Nature Preserve, with the lively Galien River working its way alongside spectacular steep ravines and rich floodplains, has exceptionally high biodiversity for a preserve that size (52 acres), including several rare species for the state. Understory wildflowers are a striking component of this biodiversity, from the sharp-lobed hepatica to Jacob’s ladder to prairie trillium.  However, these wildflowers are struggling in their attempts to expand from older high-quality forest to younger recovering forest with a wall of invasive shrubs blocking their path.  Come help us on the front lines of forest restoration, cutting back invasive shrubs to allow wildflowers and young trees to gain a foothold in this beautiful setting.

Directions: From I-94, take exit 4A (New Buffalo Exit), onto US-12 east. Go about 2.5 miles east on US-12 and turn south onto Basswood Rd. Go 1.5 miles south on Basswood Rd and turn west onto Forest Lawn Rd. Follow Forest Lawn Rd about .75 miles. The preserve is on the north side of the road, just east of the bridge over the South Branch of the Galien River. A township park called Three Oaks is just east of Kesling. It has a gravel parking area, port-a-john and trail leading into Kesling.


Saturday, May 2, 2015
Black River Preserve, South Haven, Van Buren County

Trail Touch-Up


Saturday, April 11, 2015
Chipman Preserve, Comstock Township, Kalamazoo County

Plant a Prairie


Wednesday Workday Warriors

The Wednesday Workday Warriors are in their 13th season! Please join us for hard work, camraderie, and the satisfaction of knowing that you're making a difference for the environment.
Contact us at ConserveLand@SWMLC.org if you'd like to be added to the email notification list.