Volunteers from the Sierra Club Inner City Outings group transplant a prairie foxglove at Lewisville Lake Environmental Learning Area. Courtesy of LLELA.
See our guide below to volunteer opportunities at 10 DFW-area nature centers.
Aug. 11, 2014
By Julie Thibodeaux
In most cases, no experience is required. But by giving just a few hours of your time, you will likely discover a rewarding experience as a volunteer at any of the outstanding nature centers in Dallas-Fort Worth.
According to Casey Cutler, volunteer coordinator for the Trinity River Audubon Center in Dallas, their volunteers include retirees, former teachers, master naturalists, along with moms and dads, students and aspiring environmentalists.
At TRAC, their positions do not require a back ground in nature education or a degree.
“As long as you’re interested in the environment,” said Cutler.
Julie Collins, volunteer coordinator for Dogwood Canyon Audubon Center, said she has a roster of about 80 volunteers that she relies on, but as many as 350 people volunteer throughout the year. With about 14,000 children and adults visiting the nature center annually, Collins said they couldn’t offer the programs they do without volunteers.
Above, volunteers build a bridge at Dogwood Canyon Audubon Center. Below, Courtesy of DCAC. Fans of Dogwood Canyon help spruce up the property. Courtesy: Aaron Gritzmaker
“Volunteers are absolutely vital,” said Collins. “It takes all kinds of people to help these nature centers run.”
Some people volunteer once a week, once a month or even once a year.
“A lot of them love coming to Dogwood because it’s so beautiful and peaceful and they want to be associated with something that’s outdoors and make a difference.”
She said the volunteers help fulfill the nature centers’ mission beyond simply conserving wild spaces, such as guiding inner city children on their first trip through a forest.
“It’s connecting people to nature.”
Here are some of the opportunities available at local outdoor venues:
Trinity River Audubon Center, 120 acres
Habitat Restoration: They are looking for outdoorsy folks to help with trail expansion and habitat restoration on the second Saturday of each month. Every third Saturday, they go after the Johnson grass.
Eco-educators: They need volunteers to guide the hundreds of kids that visit TRAC during the school year during weekdays. Training provided.
Left, eco-educator Sahar Sea leads a class at TRAC.
Front Desk: Be the face of TRAC for a few hours during the week.
Contact: Casey Cutler, CCutler@audubon.org
Twelve Hills Nature Center, 5 acres
Work Day Volunteers: Help maintain the Oak Cliff area nature area at its ongoing work days. Next work days Aug. 17, Sept. 14 and Sept. 21 from 8-10 a.m.
Contact: Marcie Haley, MarcieH@gmail.com
Twelve Hills volunteer gives out information at Oak Cliff Earth Day.
River Legacy Parks, 1,300 acres
Weekly Opportunities: The River Legacy Science Center needs volunteers to take shifts of two to four hours for Front Desk, Data Entry and Animal Ambassador positions. Must by 18 years old or older.
Special Events: Provide assistance for events such as After Dark in the Park, kite festival, cardboard boat regatta, clean ups and invasive plant removal. Must be 15 years or older.
Left, Volunteers pick up trash at River Legacy Parks.
O.S. Gray Natural Area, 20 acres
Work Day Volunteers: Help remove invasive plants, pick up trash and maintain gardens at monthly work days held the second Saturday of the month.
Right, O.S. Gray Natural Area helpers. Below, volunteers at the Molly Hollar Wildscape.
The Molly Hollar Wildscape: 3.2 acres
Work Day Volunteers. Volunteers help maintain the wildscape each Wednesday and one Saturday a month.
Dogwood Canyon Audubon Center, 200 acres
Reception Docent: Greet and orient visitors, sell items in nature store, maintain bird viewing area.
Education Docent: Connect visitors, including urban kids to nature with guided tours and hands-on activities.
Habitat Crew: Assist with trail building, prairie restoration and garden maintenance.
Animal Care: Clean and care for resident animals in enclosed habitats.
Overnight Camp Counselors. Help partner with Cedar Ridge Preserve with overnight campouts for inexperienced campers.
Contact: Julie Collins, JCollins@Audubon.org.
Dogwood Canyon's next training session for volunteers is Sept. 13 from 9 am - 3pm.
Fort Worth Nature Center, 3,600 acres
Animal care: Care for resident animals.
Canoe Guides: Lead canoe trips at the Nature Center. Training provided and some canoeing experience required.
Docents: Lead tours on the refuge for school and community groups. Docent training held in January and September.
Above, Fort Worth Nature Center docents take time for a group photo. Courtesy of FWNC.
Natural Guard: Help with trail maintenance, habitat restoration and building benches and shelters.
Restoration Greenhouse: Assist in the nature center’s plant restoration program by collecting, preparing and planting seeds.
Visitor Center: Greet visitors, answer questions and dispense maps.
Contact: Laura Veloz, Laura.Veloz@FortWorthTexas.gov
Tandy Hills Natural Area,
Prairie Restoration & Prairie Fest: Help clear invasives at the yearly Brush Bash in February and assist with the annual Prairie Fest in April.
Above, Tandy Hills supporters clear invasive shrubs and trees at the annual Brush Bash. Courtesy of FOTHNA.
Lewisville Lake Environmental Learning Center, 2,000 acres
Preservation. Assist with development of trails, camping areas, bird banding, seed harvests, prescribed burns, bison management.
Below, students collecting seeds at LLELA. Courtesy of LLELA.
Restoration and Research: Help with habitat evaluations, plant rescues, invasive species removal, field studies.
Education: Lead visitors on weekend nature hikes, bird walks and bison tours. Present badge workshops for scouts. People with spinning, weaving, woodworking, genealogical research, storytelling skills needed at Pioneer Homestead.
Contact: Lisa Cole, LisaCole@UNT.edu.
Bob Jones Nature Center, more than 700 acres
Garden Groomers: Garden enthusiasts needed to help tend gardens.
Greeters: Welcome people to the nature center, answer questions.
Admin: Help out in the office.
Project Preppers: Help prepare games and crafts for children’s classes.
Above, a volunteer helps set up an event at the Bob Jones Nature Center. Courtesy BJNC.
Recycling Buddies: Help gather materials, such as containers and newspapers, for class projects.
Bird Feeder: Refill and clean birds feeders, clean out bird bath and manage bird seed.
Contact: Kayla Nickells at KNickells@BJNC.org
Julie Thibodeaux is the Managing Editor for Green Source DFW. Previously, she worked as an editor and writer at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Contact her at Julie@greensourcedfw.org.
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