Volunteer Workdays

Volunteers collect seeds to be later transported to TNC’s Seed Barn where they will be dried, cleaned, weighed, and stored until winter planting time on the prairie.

Friends of the Sands hosts a volunteer workday on Thursday mornings from March to November. Our workdays are coordinated by Alyssa Nyberg, The Nature Conservancy’s Nursery Manager and Outreach Coordinator. If you’d like to receive weekly emails about upcoming workdays (including when and where to meet and the tasks involved), please send a message to Alyssa Nyberg (anyberg@TNC.org) and ask to be added to her email list of volunteers. Workday information can also be found on our Facebook page: Friends of the Sands.

Help us care for the prairie we love!

Most of our workdays take place on the prairie and support the conservation objectives of The Nature Conservancy’s Kankakee Sands Project. Our tasks change with the season. Spring is the time to prepare for the Friends of the Sands Native Plant Sale. In the warmth of the greenhouse, we’ll sow seeds, transplant seedlings to larger pots, and write out plant tags for each species. By summer, we’ll begin to harvest seed at the nursery, weed the flower beds along the Milkweed Trail, and tend to the violet beds. Fall means it’s time to clean and process seed at The Nature Conservancy’s Seed Barn.

Everyone can help out on the prairie! Xander assists Alyssa Nyberg, TNC Nursery Manager, with transplanting some new prairie plants.

All ages and abilities are welcome at our workdays! Young children can help fill pots with potting soil in the greenhouse or collect milkweed seed pods. Don’t feel up for a trek through the prairie? You can lend a hand with transplanting seedling in the greenhouse or cleaning seed in the Seed Barn. Please reach out to us and we’ll find ways to get you involved.

At The Nature Conservancy’s Seed Barn, Luka jumps in a pile of dried grasses and helps to release the seeds.

Make the most of your workday

Prairies are hot in the summer, windy in spring and fall, and bracingly cold in the winter. Don’t forget to bring the following:

  • Water
  • Lunch or snacks
  • Sunscreen
  • Sun hat
  • Hat, scarf, gloves, and heavy coat – be prepared for the wind!
  • Extra pair of clothing
  • Comfortable footwear
  • Long socks to tuck your pant legs into
  • Bug spray for ticks
Alyssa Nyberg, TNC Nursery Manager, preps the volunteer group for our next prairie task.
Marilyn is ready to tackle the task of harvesting the seed heads of Rattlesnake Master (Eryngium yuccifolium).
The volunteer crew shows off their paper bags full of harvested seed.