Lake Forest Open Lands Association is seeking a network of volunteers who can actively help monitor and maintain the land we preserve and protect. With a limited number of staff to manage over 300 acres of open space, Land Stewards are a focal point. By becoming a Land Steward, you will help to “give back” to these beautiful areas that so many enjoy. It also means having fun, learning new skills, and getting outside. Land Stewards are needed to assist Land Management staff with inspections of trails helping to decrease the time necessary to adequately inspect over 14 miles of trails. Land Stewards create the ability for staff to be informed of trail issues immediately and schedule needed maintenance and repairs, in a timely, efficient manner. Land Stewards are individuals who frequent a preserve, or preserves, managed by Lake Forest Open Lands on a routine basis.

Land Stewards:
Evaluation available here

Goals of the Program:

  • Increased visibility in the preserves and on the trails
  • Outreach and education on preserve rules to include proper trail usage and safety tips
  • Distribution of maps, highlighting other LFOLA preserves
  • Identification of trail and preserve maintenance needs
  • Addressing small scale maintenance activities such as litter pick-up and light pruning
  • As a Land Steward, you are an Ambassador on the trail:
    • You need not enforce
    • Always positive and pleasant
    • Non-confrontational

There are many ways in which you can become a member of the LFOLA Land Steward team

Trail Monitors

Walk the trails, identify maintenance concerns that hinder or prevent trail use; help keep the trails litter free; report vandalism; share concerns regarding preserve infastructure, and participate in community work days, especially those in said preserve.

Trail Stewards

In addition to the Trail Monitor responsibilities, Trail Stewards help educate preserve users and neighbors, engage non-members to the benefits of membership, update staff on animal and unusual plant sightings in preserve, and make suggestions on how to improve the user experience as well as participate in community work days throughout the year.

Conservation Stewards

In addition to the above mentioned responsibilities, Conservation Stewards take extra steps to become trained in ecological restoration practices. According to a person's own interests and available time, Conservation Stewards can be trained to: monitor birds, butterflies, dragonflies, amphibians, or rare plants; participate with staff in prescribed burns on LFOLA preserves during spring and fall seasons; collect and process seed; assist with conservation science research; and, subsequent to training, can manage invasive species by pulling, cutting, and/or chemically treating invasives under the close supervision of full-time staff and only as a licensed Applicator with the Illinois Department of Agriculture. Working under the direction of, or in many cases along with, staff, Conservation Stewards canwork in off trail locations to help plant and maintain native plant reintroductions; report neighbor encroachments into the preservesm, as well as inspect nearby off-trail locations that may require action.

  • All work including improvements to the health of our prairies, wetlands, savannahs, woodlands, and ravines must be coordinated with and approved by the Director of Land Management and Operations or an appointed designee in writing.

Become a Member of our Team!
Land Stewards are a valueable part of our conservation team. They receive identification gear, field training, and continuous support from staff, as well as gaining new skills and meeting friendly, like-minded people. We invite you to join us and share in our commitment to caring for your LFOLA preserves. 

Land Steward Benefits:

  • Gain valuable skills, knowledge, and experience
  • Attend training workshops led by LFOLA staff and guest speakers
  • Improve and protect LFOLA preserves
  • Share your time helping our community
  • Make a difference!