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Natural Area Preservation

Volunteering with NAP

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​​​​Volunteers assist NAP in all aspects of our work. Community involvement is vital to the success of NAP’s conservation and education efforts.   NAP projects take volunteers well beyond the realm of litter clean-up into broader areas of concern, such as maintaining biodiversity and restoring damaged ecosystems.  Through the combination of hands-on involvement and scientific understanding, we hope to encourage and support a connection between individual volunteers and their surrounding natural environment.  By sharing this experience with friends and neighbors, volunteers also play an important role in fostering an environmental ethic in the community.

Check out our Volunteer Stewardship Calendar​ for upcoming events and trainings!  

Where does NAP need volunteers?

Stewardship Workdays

Join us to remove invasive species, plant native species, improve trails, and collect and disperse native seeds.  In the springtime, workdays focus on hand-pulling of invasive herbaceous plants, like garlic mustard and dame’s rocket, as well as planting of native plants.  During the summer months, herbaceous plants are still around for the pulling and plants placed in the spring need tending.  As summer turns to fall, the focus shifts to invasive shrubs such as buckthorn and honeysuckle, which go to seed much later than our native shrubs making them easy to identify.  We also collect seeds from native plants in the fall and disperse them in cleared areas. Activities that can take place at any season include spreading wood chips on trails, and tending the Native Plant Demonstration Garden at Furstenberg Nature area. 

No matter what activity we’re doing, we’d love to have you out there with us!  Workdays are scheduled on most weekends during the spring, summer, and fall throughout the park system.   To join in, simply meet us at the scheduled site- no pre-registration required! Although if you're bringing a group of five or more- please email us in advance so we can have enough equipment and staff. Find out where there’s a workday near you by checking out our volunteer stewardship calendar, calling an Outreach Coordinator at (734) 794-6627, or keeping an eye on your local media.

Pre​scribed Burn Crew

We conduct prescribed burns in natural areas for a few weeks in early spring and fall.  We rely on volunteers in this limited time frame.  To join the crew, attend our annual burn crew training. Participants have the opportunity to engage in all stages of a prescribed burn from burn prep and tool maintenance to laying down fire and fire control. This is our most physically demanding activity.

Natural Features Inventory

Join us at the spring kickoff sessions at the Leslie Science & Nature Center to learn about inventory procedures, routes, and training sessions.  We currently have four surveys to participate in: Salamanders, Frogs and Toads, and Breeding Birds.  

Park Stewardship

We are looking for individuals who have an ongoing interest in volunteering in a particular park and would like to participate more in planning or leading volunteer workdays.  Park Stewards are people who have a special interest in one or more Natural Areas.  They can participate with NAP and the stewardship of that park in many ways. Park Stewards have the opportunity to help design & participate in stewardship activities, monitor park ecology, run workdays, build community, learn more about native ecosystems & restoration, meet other volunteers, and have fun!

Photo Monitoring

We need people who like to take pictures!  Help us document our restoration activities by taking photos in the parks at specific points during certain seasons. We ask that photo monitors supply their own digital camera.

Skilled Hands

We always need volunteers who have office and publicity skills, especially in graphic design. We do accept a limited number of interns, primarily in the fields of biology and ecology.

Can I get my group involved?

NAP welcomes community groups.  We will either schedule the group to work at one of our public stewardship workdays, or depending on the group’s size and needs, we may schedule a special event.  We work with scout troops, community organizations, church groups, businesses, schools, and others on restoration projects throughout the city.  If you are interested in setting up a volunteer stewardship workday at a city natural area, please fill out our group form to get started.  After completing the form, you will hear back from our Workday Coordinator shortly.

How can I learn more about restoration and stewardship?

There are many ways to learn more about restoration and stewardship.  A good place to start is at home:  learn what plants are considered native to our area.  Check out NAP publications including the quarterly newsletter, the brochure series on native plants and home landscaping, and the book Along the Huron, which highlights the natural history of the Ann Arbor natural areas along the river.  NAP staff can also recommend other publications and organizations that focus on natural areas, native plants, or restoration and stewardship.  Join in with our volunteer activities and you are sure to learn more!

Paperwork

If you want to get the paperwork out of the way before you come to a work day, please fill out and sign our Volunteer Release & Waiver of Liability (pdf). If you are under 18 and would like to volunteer with us, or would like your minor child to volunteer with us, please fill out and have a parent or guardian sign the form above. 

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Contact Information
3875 E. Huron River Drive​
734.794.6627
David Borneman, Deputy Manager - Volunteerism and Natural Area Preservation​
Check out a map of Ann Arbor's parks!​​​​

 

"Volunteering for NAP is great fun, good exercise and a chance to get out in the fresh air (okay, so maybe you are exposed to some smoke on occasion on the burn crew) and experience beautiful Ann Arbor parks that you never knew existed before.  You’ll also meet some awesome volunteers and the NAP staffers are super.  My only regret is not being able to spend more time as a NAP volunteer."
-David "Drano" Steiner

 

 

"I've never seen a place like this before - I didn't know Ann Arbor had woods like this left."
-Community High School student volunteer

 

"The buckthorn had taken over so much of the park, that our three hours spent cutting down shrubs only amounted to a small portion of the park itself. Yet, when we looked around after working, our impact was visible! The forest already looked less crowded, light was streaming in, and the native plants had become much more prominent."
-University of Michigan Economics 108 student volunteer