Become a Wildlife Monitor

Friends of the Chicago River is seeking volunteer wildlife monitors at restored habitats for three river-dependent species: osprey, bats, and turtles. Working with scientists from the Forest Preserves of Cook County, Friends identified these species as ones whose reproductive success could benefit from our help. As of 2020, Friends has installed six maternity colony structures for bats, five osprey nesting platforms, and cleared more than 130 acres of nesting habitat for turtles distributed both north and south. The data collected by volunteer monitors is crucial to evaluating our success.

Training is required but no experience is needed. The trainings are conducted by Friends’ Ecology Outreach Manager Mark Hauser and include all necessary information and expectations for interested volunteers to monitor these animals and their habitats. Groups and families are encouraged and children under 18 must monitor with an adult.

We request volunteers commit to at least one habitat location and monitor it at least twice per month during the breeding season (May to August). Habitats are located to the north in Glencoe, Winnetka, Northfield, and Morton Grove; and to the south in Lemont, Midlothian, Riverdale, Thornton and Chicago Heights.

Upcoming trainings for volunteer wildlife monitors will be from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 25, and from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 27. Training sessions will take place live via Zoom. Pre-registration is required. Once registered, you will receive a link to the training. Please register for only one session. Both sessions cover the same content. To register, please contact Mark Hauser at