VSN Stewardship Funds available

Each year, The Nature Conservancy dedicates funds to support the work of volunteer groups by providing stewardship tools and safety equipment and by funding newsletters, websites, and educational materials through the VSN Stewardship Fund.

This year, in addition to the Stewardship Fund, the Volunteer Stewardship Network has launched the Community Convening Fund to assist organizations that are:

  • Fostering community connections to nature;
  • Engaging BIPOC (black, indigenous, people of color) and other historically underrepresented and overburdened communities in the programming, care and protection of green space with native habitat elements;
  • Providing co-benefits for human and environmental health.

The application deadline for both funds is: Friday, June 25, 2021.

Below you will find application materials for both funds as well as a one-page fact sheet that provides information about and differences between the two funds.

Volunteer Stewardship Network Application

Community Convening Fund Application

Additionally, please save the dates below for online information sessions, which will include background on the Volunteer Stewardship Network, information about each of the two funding opportunities and plenty of time for questions.


Info Session 1: Thursday, June 10 at Noon

Info Session 2:  Monday, June 14 at 7 p.m.

Info Session 3: Saturday, June 19 at 11 a.m.


Please share this information with anyone you know that might benefit from being connected to the VSN!


America the Beautiful conservation initiative

The Biden-Harris administration has announced its America the Beautiful initiative, a collaboration between the U.S. Department of the Interior, United States Department of Agriculture, and the U. S. Department of Commerce to conserve and restore the lands, waters, and wildlife that sustain the nation.

This decade-long effort will support conservation and restoration efforts to address climate change and will also create jobs.

You can view details in the News Release here.



May is Monarch Month

Final Event for Illinois Monarch Virtual Summit Series

Tuesday, May 4 from 1 to 3 p.m.


Warmer months are finally here! Hopefully soon trees will begin to fill out and grasses will begin to take off. Celebrate the changing of the season with recent wins and actions people plan to take to #SaveTheMonarch. Register today for the final part in the @IMonProj’s summit series taking place May 4 from 1-3 p.m. to learn what you can do to help.


COVID-19 Survey could determine nature funding

Forefront is asking all nonprofit organizations across the state to fill out a survey to assess the impact of COVID-19 on their  operations and to determine community needs. Forefront is Illinois’ statewide association representing both grantmakers and nonprofits, as well as their advisors and allies.

Open space and nature is critical now more than ever. Nature is a human service; it’s not just about plants and animals, it’s about people — all of us.

Because so many of our foundation supporters are moving to COVID support, the conservation community of land trusts in Illinois need to join our voices to emphasize the importance of natural areas and nature to each of us during this pandemic now more than ever.

Our parks, preserves, and other open spaces already have seen a surge in use as our friends, families, and neighbors seek out these healing places as a refuge from the stresses of the pandemic restrictions.

Your input is critical as the results of the survey will be considered in recommendations shared with state elected officials and grantmaking organizations.

Please take a few minutes to complete the survey no later than Friday, November 13 by 5 p.m.

Your voice is needed on this important issue. We encourage you to let the foundations know through this survey how important this is as a mental, emotional, and physical healing response to the stresses of the pandemic.


3-part online Leadership Workshops

PSCC is excited to offer a 3-part online series of workshops to help you become a better leader for your oganization’s future.

We have partnered with Benedictine University’s Center for Values-Driven Leadership for these workshops to enable busy leaders like yourself to benefit from a time of focused leadership development. The series focuses on three levels of leadership: self, others, and organization.

Thanks to the generous support of the Gaylord & Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, we are able to offer these workshops to our members at the very reasonable price of $30 for PSCC members and $45 for non-members for all three sessions.

Take a look at the session pamphlet for more details and register now. Registration deadline is Thursday, September 10. Space is limited to four tickets per organization. 


*Leading Self:
Being a Leader People Want to Follow, September 17

*Leading Others:
Building High-Performing Teams, October 1

*Leading the Org:
Connecting Purpose to Strategy to Drive Results, October 15

All online sessions are on Thursdays from 9 to 10:30 am

Registration deadline is Thursday, September 10

We hope you take advantage of this exciting opportunity!


Kerry Leigh appointed to IDNR Advisory Board

Natural Land Institute is pleased to announce that Kerry Leigh, Executive Director, has been appointed by Governor Pritzker to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) Advisory Board. Kerry’s term of service will go through January, 2025.

The IDNR Advisory Board was established via Illinois State Statute under 20 ILCS 5/5-560 and is comprised of 13 people from across the state. Advisory Board members play an important role for the department. While board members do not have statutory authority to bind the agency, they discuss with and can advise the agency regarding conservation, recreational opportunities, protection of lands, bodies of water and wildlife, research, land acquisition, and hunting seasons, and bag limits of protected wildlife.

Leigh is also a board member of Prairie State Conservation Coalition and a consultant to the Illinois Department of Nature Preserves Commission.


2019 Year in Review released

As we have done the last several years, we have released a year in review wrap up to highlight and applaud the many things land trusts across the state have accomplished in the last year.

The 2019 Year In Review is now available! Download it and enjoy.

As always, we appreciate the year-long work that David Holman undertakes in keeping track of it all and compiling this comprehensive report each year.


George and Barbara Fell Award nominations sought

This is an opportunity to give recognition to an individual who has demonstrated distinguished achievement during an entire career, which could be in natural resources management, education, journalism, law, or science applied to protection, stewardship, or restoration of natural areas. Volunteers also are eligible.

This land conservation award is named after George Fell, founder of the Natural Land Institue in 2958, and his wife Barbara to recognize accomplishments in natural area preservation, protecction, management, and restoration in northern Illinois.

For more details on guidelines, go to the Natural Land Institute website.


Illinois Monarch Project Action Plan

Survey results from earlier this year have been compiled into a draft action plan that needs further direction.

Take a look and let them know if your organization has any projects to benefit Monarchs/pollinators that aren’t covered in the draft action plan. Get your comments and suggestions to them no later than November 4. For natural lands, contact Bridget Henning. For other questions, contact Iris Caldwell.

The draft plan can be reviewed here.

The next steps include combining actions with other sectors and identifying metrics for tracking implmenetation of actions. The action plan will be presented this winter with a second Illinois Monarch Summit.

Your participation is appreciated!


Chainsaw Operation and Safety class

Learn the basic function and operation of a chainsaw and how to handle it safely in the Beginner Chainsaw Operation and Safety Workshop offered by Natural Land Institute on Sunday, November 3 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Nygren Wetland Preserve, 3190 W. Rockton Rd., in Rockton, Illinois. 

This is a great learning opportunity for volunteers, professionals, and landowners. Equipment will be provided. Dress for the weather. The workshop will take place in an unheated barn and outside. There will be a lunch break and attendees may bring a lunch or visit a local restaurant. The workshop will be led by Zach Grycan (Natural Land Institute), and Melissa Grycan, (The Land Conservancy of McHenry County). 

Cost: $35 per person. Please register by Friday, November 1 online here at the Natural Land Institute website or call (815) 964-6666.