Background Image




Provide on-going care for our various gardens as seasonal needs demand. Activities include: planting, seed collection and processing, weeding, general care and cleanups. Groups are welcome to help us care for our gardens.

Two different gardens need care:

How to Apply

Complete a Volunteer Interest Form and a volunteer coordinator will be in touch with you.

Volunteer Interest Form

Independence Grove Garden Information

See below for more information about volunteering at the Independence Grove Native Garden.


After opening in 2001-2002, Independence Grove quickly became the most visited Forest Preserve in Lake County due to the large variety of recreational opportunities, including boating, fishing and swimming in the 115-acre lake, a Visitor’s Center with cafe, concerts in the Plaza and plenty of hiking and biking opportunities. At the heart of the preserve is the Native Garden, which is the primary work area of the ‘IG’ Garden Volunteers. In addition, the group maintains a nursery at the maintenance facility for plant storage and special projects.

Not long after the preserve opened, Bob and Anne Rizzolo approached the District offering their assistance and thus the IG volunteers group was born. Every year since then the group has been responsible for making the garden one of the finest examples of native gardening in the area.

The Native Garden

The Native Garden is located within the 6-acre central recreation area and encompasses over 2.5 acres of native plantings. Although by all appearances the garden looks like many native landscapes, it is important to note that it is first and foremost a garden and not a pure ecological restoration. By applying a restoration ethic within an urban garden design, the Native Garden provides a demonstration garden for people who appreciate not only the inherent value of native plants, but also their beauty. As such, the term ‘native’ is applied broadly here and includes species from the Chicagoland area in general and can also include cultivars of native species.

Volunteer Work

The volunteers typically work from 9 AM to noon every Monday and Thursday from April to October. In addition to the regular volunteers, a group of new sailors from Naval Station Great Lakes helps with the heavy-lifting on Thursdays and the District Maintenance staff is invaluable in providing equipment and delivering materials to the work areas. Typical work tasks include:

  • Control of invasive, aggressive and exotic species by hand pulling and herbicides
  • Installation of new plants, including soil preparation, planting, mulching and watering
  • Maintenance of plant inventory at the on-site nursery ‘hoop house’
  • Pruning of trees and shrubs
  • Transplanting, dividing and potting plants
  • Annual planting of four plaza urns
  • Potting and planting aquatic plants for the pond
  • Monitoring all plantings and installing plant signs

In addition, the group tries to include something new each year such as introducing new plants, propagating plants from seed and taking field trips to natural areas, public gardens and nurseries. Education is ongoing and includes plant identification, horticultural techniques and natural area management.


  • Regular attendance on Monday and Thursday work days
  • Ability to work outdoors in a wide variety of weather conditions
  • Strong interest in gardening and native plants and landscapes
  • Completion of the Volunteer Agreement and Waiver

Other Specialty Tasks Needed (but not mandatory)

  • Pond and pond plant maintenance
  • Nursery stock maintenance
  • Herbicide license
  • Record keeping, species lists

Please reach out to Mark Hurley with any questions: or 847-968-3324.


  • 011_-_Copy
  • 061_-_Copy
  • 117_-_Copy
  • 20130619_0015_-_Copy