Volunteer monitors contribute to ongoing scientific field studies by collecting data that document species population distribution and trends. No experience is needed, but new volunteers should have an interest in wildlife ecology and fieldwork, as well as a willingness to learn field protocol, reporting techniques and species identification at provided training workshops. After completion of training, volunteers go out in the field to count and measure wildlife species using standardized scientific protocol, and then submit their reports to the sponsoring agency at the end of the season. The collected data is analyzed by scientists in order to gain a long-term picture of the ecological health of wildlife species that will help land managers assess the effectiveness of restoration efforts.
Species-specific training workshops for new monitors (as well as those seeking a refresher) are held annually during late winter/early spring. For information and to register for training, visit the websites of the coordinating agencies listed below.
After completing training, be sure to let the Volunteer Coordinator know that you are participating in a monitoring program at a District site.
QUALIFICATIONS: Minimum age 18; a registered volunteer of the District; physically capable of carrying out the duties of the position; responsible and reliable. New volunteers must attend a training workshop and must commit to monitoring an entire season and reporting results to the sponsoring agency. In addition to an interest in specific wildlife species, hiking and fieldwork are essential to all wildlife monitoring. Monitors should be able to hike their assigned routes off trail, often through unmowed areas and uneven terrain.
TRANINING: provided by the sponsoring agency of each monitoring program (see below)
TIME COMMITMENT/SCHEDULE: days of the week and times are flexible. The total number of hours required depends on the chosen monitoring opportunity. Data reports must be reported to the sponsoring agency at the end of each monitoring season.
Bluebird Trail Monitoring
Volunteers with a basic knowledge of bluebirds monitor bluebird trails and nesting boxes at conservation areas located throughout the county to collect data on population trends. Beginning in late spring, monitors maintain and clean their boxes, and then every 7–12 days from April through August, monitors walk their designated trail to record the bird species nesting in each box and how many eggs or young are present. The trail length and terrain varies from site to site. Data is recorded for each nesting box on the trail and reported for analysis at the end of each season. Boxes are located off the hiking trails, so walking through thick vegetation may be required particularly later in the summer when the prairie has grown.
Training is provided at the site chosen by the new monitor at the beginning of each season.
To become a District bluebird trail monitor, contact Volunteer Coordinator, Denice Beck, 815.338.6223 x1229, email@example.com
The Illinois Butterfly Monitoring Network (IBMN)
IBMN monitors collect data about butterfly populations. IBMN provides training and oversight for butterfly monitors and works with the District to establish butterfly monitoring routes. Results of this survey assist land managers in more effective conservation of the state’s butterflies. The monitoring commitment includes: conducting at least 6 site visits between June 1 and August 7; continuing for multiple seasons; spending 1 to 2 hours walking the route per visit; learning to identify 25 butterfly species the first year; submitting data at the end of the season.
For additional information or to sign up for a spring training workshop, visit www.bfly.org.
To become a District butterfly monitor, contact Volunteer Coordinator, Denice Beck, 815.338.6223 x1229, firstname.lastname@example.org.
BCN Bird Conservation Network
BCN is a coalition of bird-focused organizations, including Audubon, that share an interest in the conservation of birds and their habit. BCN invites experienced birders with a minimum three years experience and the ability to recognize Illinois birds by sight and sound to monitor birds at District sites.
To learn more about BCN, visit www.bcnbirds.org.
To become a District BCN monitor, contact Volunteer Coordinator, Denice Beck, 815.338.6223 x1229, email@example.com.[/tab_4]
The Illinois Odonate Survey Volunteers, formerly known as the Dragonfly Monitoring Network, monitor dragonfly and damselfly populations at District sites and report their data at the end of each season. The time commitment includes attendance at one spring workshop per year; learn to identify key dragonfly and damselfly species; conduct at least 6 site visits between late May and late September; spend 1 to 2 hours walking the route per visit; submit data sheets at the end of the season for addition to the DMN database.