Get Involved to Restore and Preserve Our Native Prairies and Woodlands
UNO’s preserves offer many opportunities to get involved in any number of volunteer activities. Whether interested in gaining experience in restoring and managing natural communities or simply wanting to get outside and enjoy nature, we have the place for you.
The preserve maintains two e-mail lists, the Preserve Volunteer List, to volunteer with general preserve efforts, and the Omaha Red List, to volunteer to help with prescribed burning. To receive e-mails regarding these activities, contact the Preserves Director.
For individuals not associated with UNO, a Volunteer Participation Waiver of Liability must be signed prior to participation in volunteer activities. Volunteers under the age of 19 must have a signed Parental Release Form. Forms will be available on site or may be downloaded from our website.
Preserves Volunteer Opportunities
Volunteer efforts vary across the season and from year to year. Below are some examples of efforts that occur with some regularity.
GENERAL VOLUNTEER ACTIVITIES:
Seed collecting may be done throughout the year but fall is usually the best time to help out. Collections may be done at Glacier Creek Preserve, T.L. Davis Preserve, or any one of a number of other native prairies in the area. Please note that collection of seeds or plants at any native prairie site, whether or not managed by the University of Nebraska requires permission.
Woody Plant Control
Trees and shrubs rapidly invade prairie sites in our area so controlling these woody plants is a priority. This is particularly important at T.L. Davis Preserve where we are still involved in restoring the historic savanna community. Volunteers are important both in “swamping” (i.e. hauling and stacking branches, felled trees, etc.) as well as in cutting and, when appropriate, applying herbicide to small sapling stumps. Herbicides are used only under carefully controlled conditions.
Invasive Plant Control
There are several invasive plant species at our preserves that require regular control efforts to prevent them from expanding and adversely affecting our native plants. Some of the particularly persistent invasive plants are garlic mustard, crown vetch, Canada thistle, and leafy spurge. Volunteers are essential in these efforts which include both physical (i.e. uprooting and sacking, clipping, etc.) and chemical (i.e. use of herbicides) efforts. Herbicides are used only under carefully controlled conditions.
Educational Group Leaders
While the Preserve is not staffed to offer formal programs, we are often asked to assist with scheduled preserve visits from groups ranging from elementary school to high school. The visits usually take place during the spring, summer and fall where favorite activities include insect sweep netting, aquatic dip netting, prairie plant identification, biotic interactions and prairie food web observations. When we have large groups, we often look to our volunteer base for assistance.
PRESCRIBED BURN VOLUNTEER ACTIVITIES:
One of the most exciting volunteer opportunities involves prescribed (or controlled) burning. Prescribed burns are conducted every spring, summer and fall. Preserve management burns, which range in size up to 20 ha (50 acres) are conducted in spring (around 1 May) at both Glacier Creek Preserve and T.L. Davis Preserve. Long-term research plots at Glacier Creek Preserve and the replicate site at the Agricultural and Research Development Center at Mead, Nebraska are burned in spring, summer (ca. 1 July) and fall (ca mid-November). We also assist the City of Omaha in conducting spring prescribed burns of their native prairie sites. Get hands-on experience with prescribed burning and find out what prairie burns look and feel like. All burns are supervised by experienced burners. Experience with prescribed burning is helpful but not required. Refer to the Prescribed Burn page to learn more about prescribed burning.
For additional information about volunteering at T.L. Davis Preserve or Glacier Creek Preserve, please contact the Preserves Director.