No special workdays are scheduled at this time. Please check back!
What kind of stuff will we be doing? It depends on the location and its needs. Activities often include cutting invasive shrubs with handtools, spot-applying herbicide to the stumps, and dragging cut brush into piles. Other times, we may do trail maintenance or pull garlic mustard. We also sometimes need volunteers to help collect or sow native seeds, or transplant seedlings. Details are always included in the specific workday details.
I’ve never done this kind of work before. Will people show me what to do? Yes! No previous experience, special skills, strengths, or talents are needed. It’s just plain old grunt work – but essential to keeping habitats healthy, and very satisfying.
What should I bring? Please dress in layers that you can remove if you get hot. Wear comfortable clothes that you don’t mind potentially getting dirty, stained, or ripped. Long pants are encouraged. Wear sturdy shoes or boots – no sandals please! Don’t forget the creature comforts: hat, bandana for mopping up sweat, sunscreen if you’re prone to burning, insect repellant, and personal drinking water and snacks.
Do I need to have my own tools? SWMLC will provide the essentials: work gloves and loppers. Beyond that, many volunteers choose to bring their own gloves and favorite tools from home, such as loppers, pruners, and hand saws. Eye protection is required when applying herbicide.
What if the weather forecast is bad? Volunteer leaders often choose to go forward with the workday if the forecast calls for light rain, light snow, moderate cold, or relatively high temperatures. Workdays are usually cancelled or postponed if high winds, thunderstorms, heavy rain, blizzards, extreme cold, or treacherous ice are expected. Please check the forecast and make your own decisions about driving and working in the predicted conditions. And please remember that many of SWMLC’s preserves are located in rural areas where snow may not be removed as quickly as in town. If a workday has been canceled or postponed, we will do our best to get the information on this page and on social media as quickly as possible. Please check these platforms for updates.
Will there be bugs? Probably. It’s Michigan, which means mosquitoes could be fierce and ticks are looking for prey (that’s us)! Please be sure to bring your favorite insect repellant, consider tucking long pants into socks, and doing a self-exam “tick check” when you get home. And remember – mosquitoes and ticks are just another part of nature: they’re bird food!
Will there be a bathroom? Probably not. Most SWMLC are rustic natural areas without bathroom facilities. Please keep this in mind before drinking a lot of liquid before the work session – or be prepared to “rough it.”
Can kids come? Yes, kids are welcome to help! There will be tasks for all sizes, plus volunteering helps children learn valuable lessons about community and sharing.
Can I bring my dog? Please don’t. Though dogs on short leashes are usually welcome at SWMLC’s public preserves, we ask that you please leave your four-footed friends home on workdays for their safety.
No one in the photos looks like me. Will I be welcome? Absolutely! SWMLC is committed to making our preserves and events welcoming, safe places for everyone – and all volunteers are expected to understand and support this. Intolerance and bullying are not permitted. If you ever attend a volunteer workday and experience anything that makes you feel uncomfortable, please let us know immediately.
a few reminders
COVID Please stay home if you feel ill, are exhibiting symptoms, or have had recent exposure to someone who has tested positive for COVID.
AVOID SPREADING INVASIVE SPECIES – CLEAN YOUR BOOTS! Seeds, rootlets, and other stuff from invasive plants can get trapped in the treads of work boots or shoes, then transferred to clean areas – like a SWMLC preserve! Please be sure to fully clean the boots or shoes you plan to wear for the workday in advance. We also recommend the use of nylon hiking-type pants, if you have them, to reduce the inadvertent and undesired collection of “stick-tight” weed seeds that can be so anoying and time-consuming to remove from clothing.