While some of us (me particularly!) are enjoying the unseasonably warm weather Chicago is facing, it has led to the growth of some nasty flu bugs.  You can support healthier and more fun forms of growth throughout the city with Chicago Cares at our year-round environmental projects. Although winter is typically a time of hibernation for plants and many critters, successful growing seasons depend on the work of volunteers and staff at our nature areas even in the off season.

At Garfield Park Conservatory, you’ll have the chance to work on a variety of projects as determined by the greenhouse staff.  Garfield Park is the 2nd largest conservatory in the country. It suffered extensive damage during a hail storm in 2011, and plans are underway to repair the main rooms this summer. Check out this Chicago landmark for some warmth and palm trees throughout these winter days.

Beaubien Forest Preserve is located on the far south side of the city, and is part of the Field Museum’s Calumet Environmental Education Program.  Coming to one of these projects is a good way to determine if you’re hearty enough for a lumberjack lifestyle: tasks may include clearing and gathering brush, collecting seeds, and cutting down invasive species. Enjoy serene forest beauty where you least expect it.

On the other side of the city, North Park Nature Center is another such haven.  In the winter, volunteers pack and sort indigenous seeds in the learning center, and may spend time clearing nature trails as the weather permits.

Grow some good and venture into the wilderness—our environmental projects are waiting!