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Natural areas

The Arboretum's 900 acres of natural areas include the 100-acre Schulenberg Prairie, woodlands, savannas, six lakes, four marshes and wetlands, a brook, and the East Branch of the DuPage River. Volunteers help maintain all of these areas. Activities range from removing invasive plants and cutting brush to collecting and sowing seeds and planting plugs and saplings.

Workgroups usually consist of 8-20 volunteers led by a trained volunteer steward leader or Arboretum staff member. A typical group meets once a week for a 3-hour morning or afternoon work session, with some groups working seasonally and others working year round. Both weekday and weekend volunteering options are available. Some groups focus on one area of the Arboretum, while others go wherever the need is greatest. One of the highlights of many work days is a discussion of a plant or topic of interest during the work session or a steward-led walk through a natural area.


The Arboretum prairie areas require removal of invasive plants such as garlic mustard, sweet clover, and Japanese hedge parsley, brush cutting, and in the fall seed collecting. Both weekday and evening prairie volunteering options are available.

Woodlands and Savannas

Work in the Arboretum woods cutting invasive honeysuckle and buckthorn with loppers and hand saws, removing invasive plants such as garlic mustard, and in the fall collecting and sowing seeds. The work can be as physically demanding or as relaxed as the individual volunteer wishes it to be. Both weekday and weekend woodland and savanna volunteering options are available.


Restoration work includes planting plugs, wading or using boats to weed aquatic plants, algae control, and weeding plants along the banks of Meadow Lake or other lakes in the Arboretum.


Marshes and Wetlands

Wetlands are special areas and require removal of invasive plants from the wetland and surrounding area. Work is both on dry ground and at the water's edge.