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Nature Reserve Volunteer Stewardship

Huron Fringe Field Naturalists, Planting event, George G. Newton Nature Reserve © Christine Roberts


Being a volunteer nature reserve steward involves visiting the property and monitoring it for native and invasive species, as well as other threats to the natural habitat. Stewards act as eyes on the ground for our Nature Reserves team. They assist staff to help preserve these unique and diverse natural habitats.

The role requires a minimum of three visits to the nature reserve each year to monitor the property and report any activities to staff. This opportunity is tailored to the stewards’ interests, to fit their needs.

Lawson Nature Reserve, Trail building, 2021

“Stewarding the Lawson Nature Reserve gives us the opportunity to make a difference, by doing our best to ensure nature has a fighting chance. The need to preserve this small pocket is great in an area of fragmented woodlots, public lands and a handful of protected land trusts. Ongoing work like cutting phragmites and building and restoring trails to protect sensitive ephemerals takes on new meaning when you can see progress.” – Ingersoll District Nature Club

Lawson Nature Reserve

Stewardship Activities

Stewards can be involved in any of the following tasks:

  • Assist with implementing actions in the management plan.
  • Assist with maintenance such as garbage removal, trail maintenance and infrastructure repair (e.g., signage, board walk, fences).
  • Maintain good relations with adjacent landowners and other stakeholders on and around the nature reserve.
  • Monitoring native flora and fauna such as amphibians, reptiles, birds and orchids – particularly species at risk.
  • Participating in habitat restoration by managing invasive species and planting native species.
  • Hosting and assisting with events to raise awareness about local biodiversity.
  • Most importantly: helping to protect, restore and conserve vulnerable habitats for at-risk plants and animals!
Willoughby Nature Reserve restoration © Credit Valley Conservation

“Being a steward for the Altberg Wetland has been a rewarding experience. First, I was able to survey the area for Ontario Nature. Second, I was involved with the students from Fleming College as they were conducting their surveys, especially the capture and study of a flying squirrel. Third, the wetland provided me with my first walk through a swamp forest.” – Eric Davis, Altberg Wetland steward

© Kirsten Dahl

Stewardship Opportunities

Ontario Nature supports a large network of members from our Nature Network groups. We work with stakeholders and experts throughout the environmental field to learn more about the biodiversity on our properties. Stewards can connect and learn from experts through various events and monitoring projects.

These are just some of the project’s stewards have been involved in:

Bird monitoring © Jory Mullen

Current Opportunities

We are looking for stewards for the following nature reserves to join our stewardship teams! (See asterixis on the map below). If you are located near one of these properties and are interested in learning more about nature reserve stewardship, please contact reserves@ontarionature.org.

We welcome all experience levels, but are looking for stewards with strong field identification skills or with a special interest in ecology. Some experience with Google drive, Microsoft Excel and email is preferred, or the willingness to learn.

Cleaning up Baptist Harbour Nature Reserve © Smera Sukumar

Nature Reserves Recruiting Stewards

Nature Reserves recruiting stewards

Volunteer Safety

Volunteer safety is a priority at Ontario Nature. Staff provide training and safety lessons for all volunteer activities. By entering into a stewardship agreement with Ontario Nature, we provide insurance coverage for all activities directed by staff.

Volunteers are expected to engage only in activities they are comfortable with. For Nature Reserves with multiple stewards, volunteers can schedule visits with other stewards.

Buckthorn removal at Cawthra Mulock Nature Reserve © Smera Sukumar

Youth Involvement

Youth under 18 require a parent or guardian to join as a steward. We welcome families to join as a stewardship team!

If you don’t want to commit to becoming an official steward but can I help occasionally, please fill out our volunteer form or visit our events page for future opportunities.

Trail maintenance, Willoughby Nature Reserve © Camille Tremblay Beaulieu