Getting out into nature with the family is a way to both learn about the environment around us and, in the case of volunteer work, help to maintain the natural world. At parks and nature areas around the region, there is a lot of work that needs to be done. Take a day, grab the family and help keep nature as it was meant to be.

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Environmental Interpretive Center
University of Michigan – Dearborn
4901 Evergreen Road
Dearborn, MI 48128
(313) 593–5338

One of the best-kept secrets around Detroit is the Natural Area at the Environmental Interpretative Center at U of M Dearborn. The nature preserve is used for education and research and is open to the public to enjoy walks along trails that will take them through a number of habitats. It is the natural habitats that volunteers work to protect. Working under the direction of the EIC Natural Area Manger, Rick Simek, volunteers will help remove plants that threaten the stability of the natural vegetation and along the way, Simek offers up information on the flora and fauna that inhabits the area. It is a work day well worth the time for anyone who enjoys learning from an expert and helping the environment.  Stewardship workdays are set to take place from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m., July 20, August 17, September 21, October 19, November 16 and December 7. For more information, call (313) 583-6371 or contact Simek by email. Children age 10 and above are welcome to take part.

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Huron-Clinton Metroparks
Parks Administration Office
13000 High Ridge Drive
Brighton, MI 48114
(810) 227-2757

When it comes to being outdoors with the family, the jewel of the park system in Southeastern Michigan is the Huron Clinton Metroparks. With 13 parks ranging from Lake Erie Metropark in the south to Lake St. Clair Metropark in the east, you will find plenty of chances to help volunteer to keep these gems beautiful. Like most parts of the state, the parks are facing an invasion of non-native plants that need to be removed. But there are also chances to maintain trails, tidy up different parts of a park or help out in a nature area. For a complete list of scheduled workdays, check out the Natural Resource Volunteer Opportunities webpage where there are links to the parks and the projects that are being planned.

Friends of the Rouge – Grow Zone Stewardship Workday
University of Michigan – Dearborn
4901 Evergreen Road
Dearborn, MI 48128
(313) 792-9900

As you drive around town, you may have noticed areas that are marked as “Grow Zones” and one of these areas needs a little help from some friendly volunteers. The rain garden located at Newburgh Point on Newburgh Lake needs to have some small invasive plants removed. These grow zones are important in that they provide runoff areas for rain water and help improve the overall quality of the watershed they feed. With the workday planned in Hines Park on July 18, it will not be all work with no play, as it is the perfect place to enjoy before and after the work is done.

Michigan State Parks and Recreation Areas
Various locations across the state

If you love Michigan State Parks and would like to help keep them beautiful and natural, then you are in luck with a full calendar of work weekends planned across the state. From pulling garlic mustard or cutting back invasive plants to help collect seeds of native prairie grasses, your help is needed. In the Detroit area alone, there are workdays planned at the Brighton Recreation Area on July 21 and at Waterloo Recreation on July 28, to name just a few. The best bet is to check out the listing of volunteer days at the DNR Volunteer Stewardship Calendar page. Here you will find volunteer projects at state parks and recreation areas across the state.

Stewardship Network
416 Longshore Drive
Ann Arbor, MI 48105
(734) 996-3190

If you don’t want to head over to U of M, the State Parks or the Metroparks with the family to help, instead visit the Stewardship Network webpage. Here you will find a listing of just about every outdoor nature event taking place in the state. Want to find out what’s happening in another county? No problem, you can search by event type, county and region, which by the way, the southeastern part of Michigan is in the Lake Plain Cluster. You will also find listings of nature walks, birding classes and just about everything else you can enjoy outdoors. This is very simply the mother lode of outdoor information for nature lovers.

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Award winning freelance writer and photographer Lawrence DiVizio is based in Southeast Michigan and works to convey in words and images the world around us. His work can be found at