Public Services, Interpretive Programs and Trails

Banner: Public Service and Heritage

 

Tile: Heritage VolunteerTile: Interpreter VolunteerTile: Trail StewardTile: Welcome Center HostTile: Youth Educator

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Banner: Heritage Volunteer

 

Assist Midewin’s Archaeologist and Heritage Program Manager in a variety of tasks related to the Midewin Heritage Program. Heritage volunteers are essential to accomplishing the mission and responsibilities of the Midewin archaeologist in exercising responsible stewardship of irreplaceable heritage resources on the Prairie.

 

Duties and Responsibilities:

Activities are not on a set schedule. In working with the Volunteer Coordinator and the Midewin Heritage Program Manager we will learn your areas of interest, skills, availability, and physical capabilities. Activities may range from such things as artifact curation in the office here, on a schedule determined by you and the Heritage Program Manager; transcribing previously recorded oral histories from your home, digging shovel test holes on the Prairie, or recovering large artifacts from Arsenal buildings slated for demolition. Occasionally there are scheduled activities such as assisting with Heritage tours, removing invasive species from historic sites, conducting research at repositories off-site in Will County, or recording pre-1940 farmstead sites. Safety training and training on the conduct of the activity will be provided before the work begins.

 

Qualifications:

Volunteers are responsible for their own transportation to and from activities. An interest in the activity and a willingness to learn are required. No previous experience is required for most heritage projects although those with related experience are very welcome and that experience will be utilized. Volunteers should be age 16 or older. Volunteers will be offered a wide-range of activities matching their skills, abilities, and interests. Some activities are physically strenuous and require safety equipment and appropriate seasonal clothing for outdoors work such as digging or moving heavy pieces of equipment and artifacts. Other activities may be conducted at home on a computer. Some, but not all activities, may be done by people with physical challenges or limitations.

Position Description - (pdf)

 

Time Commitment:

Almost all Heritage work is on an ad hoc basis to best support short term and long term goals with shifting or new priorities. You will be notified by the Heritage Program Manager or Volunteer Coordinator at least a week in advance when an opportunity that meets your interests is to take place. Occasionally Heritage volunteer opportunities are in conjunction with larger scale events with set time schedules, such as National Public Lands Day or scheduled tours and other programs. Individual time commitment may range from an hour or two on a weekend, to full time digging for a week or two; or even at your convenience such as when the Heritage volunteers are doing web based archival research from home or visiting local libraries or resource facilities.

 

Training:

Each opportunity to participate will begin with a safety discussion followed an informal overview of the activity and each individual’s responsibility within the activity. As appropriate, training for the specific activity will then be conducted. Examples of this are training in the use of a GPS unit, training in how to record archaeological sites, a demonstration of how and where to access archival records from your home computer and the format for recording the information. Additionally, should you volunteer to do such things as driving for a tour there may be required defensive drivers’ training. Volunteers interested in protecting Heritage sites from invasive plants are encouraged to get their herbicide license through the IL Department of Agriculture, which includes training and testing on proper use and application of herbicides. Additional responsibilities could become applicable or available to this position in the future that might require additional training and/or certification. These additional responsibilities will be determined by the program managers and approved for selected volunteers.

 

Working Condition/Physical Effort:

Heritage program volunteers are covered by the Volunteer Agreement (Form 301a) while performing duties described by this position description during the season(s) listed or scheduled shifts. Volunteers must read, sign and consent to the U.S. Forest Service Job Hazard Analysis, which includes safety requirements and recommended best practices. Volunteers may work in variable conditions including:

  • Exposure to outdoor weather conditions & allergens
  • Walking on unevenground for short distances
  • Standing for up to 2 hours or more at a time
  • Light to moderate lifting

 

 

Banner: Interpreter Volunteer

 

Interpreters deliver educational programs for groups to promote awareness, knowledge and appreciation for the environment and natural and cultural resources. This is a key role in sharing Midewin’s history, mission, challenges and accomplishments. Interpreters help directly with part two and four of our mission which are to provide opportunities for scientific; environmental; and land use education and research and also to provide recreational opportunities.

 

Duties and Responsibilities:

An interpreter may play the role of the following: tour guide, mascot handler, exhibitor for Midewin booth at fairs, youth program educator, educational programs, Welcome Center host, and/or trail host at events. Programs take place on-site & off-site for the general public, school groups, partner sponsored day camps, clubs, etc. Please review the separate position descriptions if you are specifically interested in Welcome Center host or Youth Educator. This position description will mostly cover tour guides and other public program interpreters. Some interpreters are responsible for speaking in front of individuals or groups up to 50 or more. It is important to read and retain lots of information about a variety of topics in order to be a good resource for visitors. Tour guides are responsible for scheduling tours in advance or coordinating with staff when there are special requests from private groups. Tour guides will check their tour route or program area; confirm availability of technology or interpretive props needed; request any additional staff or volunteer assistance; check out tour radios; and check out vehicle and gate keys.

 

Qualifications:

Interpreters may be required to drive a Forest Service vehicle; in this event a valid driver’s license is necessary and drivers must pass an online defensive driving course and road test. Experience with leading programs and public speaking are preferred. Individuals must be friendly and enjoy working with all ages and backgrounds. Individuals are required to have excellent communication skills including being a clear and enthusiastic speaker. Part of interpretation is the ability to analyze information and construe meaning using general knowledge, specific knowledge or intuition. Interpreters should be able to express information to a variety of demographics and be aware of cultural differences. Midewin interpreters must have the best interest of the U.S. Forest Service and Midewin in mind. An interpreter must act tactfully and professionally when dealing with occasional difficult situations, misunderstandings and/or tension from the public.

Position Description - (pdf)

 

Time Commitment:

Midewin interpreters are needed year round, in varying capacities. Scheduled tours on the public event calendar take place on Saturdays from April-October. Many special requests for private groups take place during the weekday business hours. Tours may be 3-5 hours each including preparation time. Tour guides and program leaders, in training, must first learn the general tour that covers Midewin’s history and mission. In time, interpreters can choose additional tours of interest and shadow seasoned interpreters each time that tour is scheduled. Midewin does ask that once the interpreter declares their commitment to a scheduled tour they adhere to that commitment. Unless there is an emergency, we need plenty of notice for a program cancellation or to make other arrangements.

 

Training:

Interpreters are required to complete the in-house orientation and shadow seasoned interpreters until they are comfortable and approved to take a lead role. First Aid and CPR is encouraged, but not required. Local training opportunities are available such as National Association of Interpretation certification and Environmental Education Association of Illinois workshops. Additional responsibilities could become applicable or available to this position in the future that might require additional training and/or certification. These additional responsibilities will be determined by the program managers and offered to selected volunteers.

 

Working Condition/Physical Effort:

Interpreters are covered by the Volunteer Agreement (Form 301a) while performing duties described by this position description during the season(s) listed or scheduled shifts. Interpreters must read, sign and consent to the U.S. Forest Service Job Hazard Analysis, which includes safety requirements and recommended best practices. Interpreters may work in variable conditions including:

  • Exposure to outdoor weather conditions & allergens
  • Walking on unevenground for short distances
  • Standing for up to 2 hours or more at a time
  • Light to moderate lifting

 

 

Banner: Trail Steward

 

Trail stewards assist the U.S. Forest Service staff at Midewin in establishing and maintaining a multi-use trail system intended to enhance the enjoyment and safety of trail users.

 

Duties and Responsibilities:

Trail stewards walk their trail segment, at minimum, once a month to monitor safety conditions, especially April-October. Stewards must complete and submit a National Quality Standards (NQS) checklist, found at http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/midewin/workingtogether/volunteering/?cid=stelprdb5292679, for each trail visit and report safety concerns immediately to the program leader. Stewards must wear a blaze orange vest at all times provided by Midewin. Stewards may take on additional responsibilities in addition to visually monitoring trails. Midewin will provide all tools, plants, materials and safety gear required to complete tasks. Other responsibilities may include the following:

 

  • Complete species list along trail segment
  • Document trail conditions (safety hazards and erosion problems, new invaders)
  • Report and/or repair signage and structure conditions
  • Report unauthorized trails and trail misuse
  • Check parking area for hazards and vandalism
  • Remove small, detached branches from trail
  • Report large overhangs or trees across trail
  • Clear litter and properly dispose of garbage
  • Removal of debris blocking water drainage
  • Install and/or maintain benches or trail amenities
  • Greet visitors to provide trail etiquette, Midewin's history and mission
  • Attain certification to apply herbicide to invasive plants using various equipment and herbicide provided by Midewin
  • Plant native plants along trails
  • Train new trail stewards
  • Fill brochure bins or post approved notifications on trail head board
  • Lead volunteer days after acquiring appropriate training such as CPR/First Aid

 

Qualifications:

Stewards are responsible for their own transportation to trailheads. Stewards must be able to safely hike or bike their trail segment (1-2 miles long). Previous experience with nature trails and plant identification are very helpful. Some information is most efficiently reported online, so internet access and email is required. Stewards will come in contact with many visitors so interpretation of Midewin’s history, mission, challenges and accomplishments is important. This type of work is easier and safer with a partner, so this should be highly considered (especially for stewards without a cell phone). Certain activities require working with a partner such as herbiciding and operating power tools.

Position Description - (pdf)

 

Time Commitment:

Midewin asks that stewards commit to a minimum of a year and visit their site at least once a month. Trail stewards are able to work on their trails any day of the year from 4am-10pm. There is a general restoration volunteer day every Thursday from 9am-2:30pm and the last Thursday each month is dedicated to trail maintenance for volunteers to help trail stewards. These are optional, but helpful for getting additional help and working with other stewards. Staff leads quarterly trainings to discuss invasive plant targets and general seasonal needs.

 

Training:

All stewards are required to complete the in-house orientation about tools, reporting, herbicide protocols, trail specifics, etc. Midewin trail rules, per handbook, must be followed at all times. New stewards are required to work with experienced stewards until they are comfortable taking on a segment of their own. Staff is also available to walk trails with stewards as an initial orientation and occasionally throughout the year. Staff leads quarterly trainings to discuss invasive plant targets and general seasonal needs. Stewards are encouraged to acquire their herbicide license through the Illinois Department of Agriculture. Training materials are provided and license fee is paid for by Midewin (License renewal fee will not be paid if it is not used). Other certifications/trainings that will be offered and paid for include government motor vehicle ID card and refresher training, background check (if required) to access certain buildings, trailer training, power tools, UTV training and First Aid/CPR. Additional responsibilities could become applicable or available to this position in the future that might require additional training and/or certification. These additional responsibilities will be determined by the program managers and offered to selected volunteers.

 

Working Condition/Physical Effort:

Stewards are covered by the Volunteer Agreement (Form 301a) while performing duties described by this position description during the season(s) listed or scheduled shifts. Stewards must read, sign and consent to the U.S. Forest Service Job Hazard Analysis, which includes emergency plans, safety requirements and recommended best practices. Stewards may work in variable conditions including:

  • Exposure to outdoor weather conditions & allergens
  • Walking on unevenground for a distance of 1 - 2 miles
  • Carrying and using a variety of hand tools and power tools
  • Handing, mixing and applying herbicide

 

Instructions and Information

 

 

Banner: Welcome Center Host

 

Welcome Center hosts are the public’s first contact upon entering the Welcome Center (WC) at Midewin. They provide a friendly welcome and offer information about Midewin’s history, mission and recreation opportunities.

 

Duties and Responsibilities:

WC hosts greet visitors, answer questions and provide orientation to the general area. This also includes handing out literature, trail maps and program schedules and restocking them when they get low. Light administrative work such as answering phones, transferring calls and collecting program RSVPs may also be part of the host's duties. In addition, WC hosts assist with the Midewin Interpretive Association (MidIA) gift shop by handling merchandise sales. During hunting season, hosts may need to issue permits to hunters.

 

Qualifications:

WC hosts must be friendly, have good communication skills and enjoy talking with people. Hosts must have the ability to work cooperatively with a variety of visitors, staff and other volunteers. It is most helpful to be able to read and retain quite a bit of information about a variety of topics in order to be a good resource for visitors. During busy hours, it is necessary to be friendly and concise with visitors in order to accommodate many people that may be waiting for service. It will be necessary to learn the cash register and credit card transaction program. Hosts are responsible for their own transportation to and from Midewin. A second host is required to be scheduled for safety and security reasons, which may be a paid staff member or another volunteer.

Position Description - (pdf)

 

Time Commitment:

A multiple year commitment is preferred because of the level of training involved and also hosts gain most of their experience gradually over time. Scheduled shifts are from 8am-4:30pm and can be any day Monday-Saturday. The Welcome Center is closed on Saturdays from November-March. Regularly scheduled commitments of one day per month up to one day per week are most helpful. Unless there is an emergency, we need 48 hour notice for a schedule cancellation in order for us to make other arrangements.

 

Training:

All hosts are required to complete an in-house orientation that will cover requirements, duties, safety, training materials, etc. New hosts will be partnered with an experienced host until there is a level of trust and comfort reached between the new host and the education specialist or trainer. Additional responsibilities could become applicable or available to this position in the future that might require additional training and/or certification. These additional responsibilities will be determined by the program managers and offered to selected volunteers.  

 

Working Condition/Physical Effort:

Welcome Center Hosts are covered by the Volunteer Agreement (Form 301a) while performing duties described by this position description during the season(s) listed or scheduled shifts. Hosts must read, sign and consent to the U.S. Forest Service Job Hazard Analysis, which includes emergency plans, safety requirements and recommended best practices. This is an indoor position in a temperature controlled building that requires sitting or standing for most of the shift. Midewin facilities are handicap accessible. For short breaks or lunch there is a break room and a nice path around the building and headquarters.

 

Additional Resources:

 

 

Banner: Youth Educator

 

Interpreters deliver educational programs for groups to promote awareness, knowledge and appreciation for the environment and natural and cultural resources. This is a key role in sharing Midewin’s history, mission, challenges and accomplishments. Interpreters help directly with part two and four of our mission which are to provide opportunities for scientific; environmental; and land use education and research and also to provide recreational opportunities.

 

Duties and Responsibilities:

An interpreter may play the role of the following: tour guide, mascot handler, exhibitor for Midewin booth at fairs, youth program educator, educational programs, Welcome Center host, and/or trail host at events. Programs take place on-site & off-site for the general public, school groups, partner sponsored day camps, clubs, etc. Please review the separate position descriptions if you are specifically interested in Welcome Center host or Youth Educator. This position description will mostly cover tour guides and other public program interpreters. Some interpreters are responsible for speaking in front of individuals or groups up to 50 or more. It is important to read and retain lots of information about a variety of topics in order to be a good resource for visitors. Tour guides are responsible for scheduling tours in advance or coordinating with staff when there are special requests from private groups. Tour guides will check their tour route or program area; confirm availability of technology or interpretive props needed; request any additional staff or volunteer assistance; check out tour radios; and check out vehicle and gate keys.

 

Qualifications:

Interpreters may be required to drive a Forest Service vehicle; in this event a valid driver’s license is necessary and drivers must pass an online defensive driving course and road test. Experience with leading programs and public speaking are preferred. Individuals must be friendly and enjoy working with all ages and backgrounds. Individuals are required to have excellent communication skills including being a clear and enthusiastic speaker. Part of interpretation is the ability to analyze information and construe meaning using general knowledge, specific knowledge or intuition. Interpreters should be able to express information to a variety of demographics and be aware of cultural differences. Midewin interpreters must have the best interest of the U.S. Forest Service and Midewin in mind. An interpreter must act tactfully and professionally when dealing with occasional difficult situations, misunderstandings and/or tension from the public.

Position Description - (pdf)

 

Time Commitment:

Midewin interpreters are needed year round, in varying capacities. Scheduled tours on the public event calendar take place on Saturdays from April-October. Many special requests for private groups take place during the weekday business hours. Tours may be 3-5 hours each including preparation time. Tour guides and program leaders, in training, must first learn the general tour that covers Midewin’s history and mission. In time, interpreters can choose additional tours of interest and shadow seasoned interpreters each time that tour is scheduled. Midewin does ask that once the interpreter declares their commitment to a scheduled tour they adhere to that commitment. Unless there is an emergency, we need plenty of notice for a program cancellation or to make other arrangements.

 

Training:

Interpreters are required to complete the in-house orientation and shadow seasoned interpreters until they are comfortable and approved to take a lead role. First Aid and CPR is encouraged, but not required. Local training opportunities are available such as National Association of Interpretation certification and Environmental Education Association of Illinois workshops. Additional responsibilities could become applicable or available to this position in the future that might require additional training and/or certification. These additional responsibilities will be determined by the program managers and offered to selected volunteers.

 

Working Condition/Physical Effort:

Interpreters are covered by the Volunteer Agreement (Form 301a) while performing duties described by this position description during the season(s) listed or scheduled shifts. Interpreters must read, sign and consent to the U.S. Forest Service Job Hazard Analysis, which includes safety requirements and recommended best practices. Interpreters may work in variable conditions including:

  • Exposure to outdoor weather conditions & allergens
  • Walking on unevenground for short distances
  • Standing for up to 2 hours or more at a time
  • Light to moderate lifting

 





https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/midewin/workingtogether/volunteering/?cid=stelprdb5292639