Top 9 Environmental Volunteer Opportunities in Chicago

Contribute to achieving a sustainable environment for all by opting for any of these top-ranking environmental volunteer opportunities in Chicago.

Human beings and other living organisms gain their survival from natural resources that can be accessed from the environment and their various habitat.

The earth on its own is fashioned in a way that keeps circulating processes to keep producing these resources for live processes to keep going on. However, due to anthropogenic activities, natural courses and compositions have been altered and thus, a reduction in her efficiency and sustainability.

While the rest go about their everyday business to make ends meet, Environmental NGOs have taken it upon themselves to put in efforts and bodies to ensure that the effects of our various reckless and unfriendly activities on the environment. And for them to achieve this, they are ever in need of help from selfless individuals who can be volunteers for this course.

An environmental volunteer is an individual who freely dedicates their time, energy, and efforts to participate in various activities and projects aimed at conserving, protecting, and improving the natural environment.

They are mostly driven by a burning passion and enthusiasm for the environment and are committed to seeing positive change and making a positive impact while rendering voluntary services that may take the form of diverse roles depending on their area of interest and skill set.

Hence, for the love of Chicago and the love of the environment, find below some awesome environmental volunteering opportunities that you should jump on and help to make Chicago greener.

Environmental Volunteer Opportunities in Chicago

The top environmental volunteer opportunities in Chicago include;

  • Urban Growers Collective
  • Shedd Aquarium
  • Chicago Botanic Garden
  • Plant Chicago
  • Friends of the Forest Preserves
  • Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum
  • Audubon Great Lakes
  • Openlands
  • Chicago Riverwalk
  • The Field Museum

1. Urban Growers Collective

The Urban Growers Collective (UGC) is a Chicago nonprofit organization focusing on urban agriculture and sustainable food systems. Their mission is to cultivate nourishing environments for both people and communities through farming, education, and advocacy.

UGC operates several urban farms throughout Chicago, providing fresh produce to local communities, and they also offer educational programs to promote food justice and environmental stewardship.

Volunteers who offer their services to this organization get involved in various aspects of urban farming, including planting, harvesting, and maintaining crops, as well as participating in community events and educational initiatives.

This would surely be rewarding, as practices of urban agriculture and food conservation would educate and increase the wealth of experience of the volunteer.

Click here to volunteer.

2. Shedd Aquarium

The Shedd Aquarium, located in Chicago, Illinois, is a popular and renowned public aquarium that is dedicated to promoting the understanding and appreciation of aquatic life. It is home to a wide variety of marine animals, including fish, dolphins, whales, and more.

The aquarium offers educational programs, interactive exhibits, and conservation initiatives to raise awareness about the importance of preserving aquatic ecosystems.

Volunteers at the Shedd Aquarium often assist with various tasks, such as educating visitors about the animals and their habitats, helping with special events, and supporting conservation efforts.

Click here to volunteer.

3. Chicago Botanic Garden

The Chicago Botanic Garden is a renowned public garden in Glencoe, Illinois, spanning 385 acres. It is known for its diverse plant collections, beautiful landscapes, and educational programs.

The garden offers a wide range of volunteer opportunities for individuals interested in horticulture, conservation, and community engagement.

Volunteers play active roles in areas such as; docents and tour guides, gardening and horticulture, environmental stewardship, education and outreach, guest services, research and science, administrative support, and special events.

These volunteer opportunities contribute to the garden’s mission of promoting the understanding and appreciation of plants and the natural world, and as such, The Chicago Botanic Garden typically offers training and support to volunteers, ensuring they are well-prepared for their roles.

Volunteers often have the opportunity to learn from experts in their respective fields and gain valuable hands-on experience in a beautiful natural setting.

For more information about this volunteer opportunity, click here.

4. Plant Chicago

Plant Chicago is a non-profit organization based in Chicago, Illinois, with a focus on sustainable urban agriculture and circular economy practices. It operates within “The Plant,” a former meatpacking facility transformed into a hub for innovative environmental initiatives.

Plant Chicago aims to promote sustainability, education, and community engagement. Plant Chicago welcomes volunteers of all backgrounds and abilities, ages 16 and up, and has something for everyone regardless of your area of interest.

Volunteering at Plant Chicago is a fantastic way to support circular economies and foster community. You can help with yard work, event facilitation, Indoor Victory Garden maintenance, and more.

Click here for more inquiries about this volunteer opportunity.

5. Friends of the Forest Preserves

Friends of the Forest Preserves is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and enhancing the forest preserves in the Chicago, Illinois area. They offer a variety of volunteer opportunities for individuals interested in contributing to the conservation and enjoyment of these natural areas.

Volunteer opportunities with Friends of the Forest Preserves typically include activities such as trail maintenance, habitat restoration, bird monitoring, and educational programs. Volunteers can participate in hands-on projects to help maintain and improve the health of the forest preserves, ensuring they remain vibrant and accessible to the community.

By engaging with Friends of the Forest Preserves, you not only contribute to the preservation of local natural resources but also have the chance to connect with like-minded individuals and learn more about the unique ecosystems found within the forest preserves of the Chicago region.

These opportunities offer a fulfilling way to give back to the community and promote the appreciation of nature.

Click here to volunteer.

6. Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum

The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, located in Chicago, is a renowned institution dedicated to environmental education and conservation.

Having been in existence for over 165 years, the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum in collaboration with the Chicago Academy has played a special role in Chicago by inspiring wonder through its immersive exhibits, exciting family events, significant conservation research, and in-depth educational programs.

They offer diverse volunteer opportunities for individuals interested in supporting their mission.

Volunteer opportunities at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum can involve activities such as assisting with educational programs, leading guided tours, participating in conservation initiatives, and helping with special events.

Volunteers play a vital role in educating visitors about the natural world and promoting environmental stewardship. By volunteering at the museum, individuals have the chance to deepen their knowledge of local wildlife, ecology, and conservation efforts while contributing to the museum’s educational goals.

These opportunities provide a rewarding way to engage with the community and make a positive impact on environmental awareness and conservation.

Click here to volunteer.

7. Audubon Great Lakes

Audubon Great Lakes is a regional office of the National Audubon Society, focused on bird conservation and habitat protection in the Great Lakes region. They offer a range of volunteer opportunities for those interested in birding and environmental conservation.

Volunteer opportunities with Audubon Great Lakes often include bird monitoring and research, habitat restoration, advocacy efforts, and educational programs. Volunteers can contribute to vital conservation initiatives aimed at protecting bird species and their habitats in the Great Lakes area.

By volunteering with Audubon Great Lakes, individuals have the chance to connect with nature, learn more about bird ecology, and actively participate in efforts to safeguard the region’s avian biodiversity.

These opportunities provide a meaningful way to engage in environmental stewardship and promote the conservation of birds and their habitats.

Click here to Volunteer.

8. Openlands

Openlands is a non-profit organization based in the Chicago region, dedicated to preserving and enhancing open spaces, natural areas, and green infrastructure.

They safeguard the natural and open spaces of northeastern Illinois and the surrounding region, ensuring cleaner air and water, protecting natural habitats and wildlife, and assisting in the balance and enrichment of our lives.

Openlands offers a variety of volunteer opportunities for individuals interested in environmental conservation and community engagement. Volunteer opportunities with Openlands typically encompass activities such as tree planting, habitat restoration, community gardening, and educational programs.

Volunteers play a crucial role in improving and maintaining urban green spaces, parks, and natural areas, contributing to the well-being of both people and the environment.

By participating in Openlands’ volunteer initiatives, individuals can connect with their local community, gain hands-on experience in environmental conservation, and help create and maintain sustainable urban green spaces.

Click here to volunteer.

10. The Field Museum

The Field Museum, located in Chicago, is a renowned institution dedicated to natural history and cultural heritage. They offer a variety of volunteer opportunities for individuals interested in science, education, and museum-related activities.

Volunteer opportunities at The Field Museum can include roles such as gallery interpreters, educational program assistants, collections assistants, and special event support.

Volunteers play a critical role in helping the museum fulfill its mission of inspiring curiosity about life on Earth while fostering a deeper understanding of our world’s history and natural wonders.

By volunteering at The Field Museum, individuals can engage with fascinating exhibits, gain valuable insights into scientific research and cultural preservation, and contribute to the museum’s educational initiatives.

Click here to volunteer.


In conclusion, Chicago offers a diverse array of environmental volunteer opportunities that empower individuals to make a positive impact on the city’s natural spaces and ecosystems.

Whether it’s restoring urban parks, participating in wildlife conservation efforts, or educating the community about sustainability, volunteering in Chicago not only fosters a deeper connection to the environment but also contributes to the collective effort to create a greener and more sustainable future for this vibrant city.

So, roll up your sleeves, get involved, and be a part of the transformative change happening in the Windy City’s environmental landscape.


A Passion driven Environmental Enthusiast/Activist, Geo-Environmental Technologist, Content Writer, Graphic Designer, and Techno-Business Solution Specialist, who believes it is up to us all to make our planet a better and greener place to reside.

Go for Green, Let's make the earth Greener !!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *