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EIU Civic Engagement and Volunteerism

Nature/Historical Sites

Ever hear of the term “Go Green”? Today, everybody is going green! In addition to being environmentally conscious in your everyday life, you can volunteer at the following agencies and make a truly green contribution!

For more information about these organizations, please contact our office at 217-581-3967 or email

Douglas-Hart Nature Center

The Douglas-Hart Nature Center is dedicated to the education, understanding and enjoyment of nature. We feature more than 70 acres of forest, prairie, pond and wetland habitats as well as a Visitors Center filled with hands-on interpretive displays. We need your help in this quest.

Volunteers do not need any specific skills. Volunteers are needed to help on the weekends at the Visitor Center and to help throughout the week on the grounds, cleaning, and sorting newsletters. A volunteer form is available in the Office of Student Community Service for this opportunity.

Contact Person: Dakota Radford
Telephone: 217-235-4644

Embarras Volunteer Stewards

The Embarras Volunteer Stewards began in 1994 to help public and private land owners in their efforts to preserve and restore native prairie and woodland sites. We are people from all walks of life who work under the guidance of biologists. We give about 40 Saturday mornings a year to help in small ways so that Illinois will not lose the rest of its precious natural heritage, of which less than .07 percent remains to us today.

Volunteers are needed on specific Saturdays to assist with cutting and spraying bushes, planting shrubs, burning branches and more. Please visit the website below and go to "events" for specific dates.

Contact Person: Larry Thorson
Telephone: 217-549-1555

The Whiteside Garden

In 1963, Dr. Wesley (Wes) Whiteside began transforming 5 acres of former farmland into a diverse botanical garden that has become a true treasure for east-central Illinois. Though he retired from Eastern Illinois University’s Botany Department in 1987, Wes continued to nurture and develop his garden, drawing many visitors to view his collections, which are unmatched in the region.

Volunteers are needed to help mulching, weeding, trimming, and more.

Contact Person: Dakota Radford
Telephone: 217-266-1472

Lincoln Log Cabin State Historic Site

Lincoln Log Cabin State Historic Site preserves the site of the 1840s farm of Thomas and Sarah Bush Lincoln, father and stepmother of our 16th president. Located at 402 South Lincoln Highway Lerna, IL 62440.

Volunteers are needed to work the front desk and act as guides for the visitor center. Duties include starting the informational video for guests, orienting them to the site and exhibits, requesting that they sign in for guest counts and demographics, and acting as an ambassador to the site.

Volunteers are also needed to work in the gift shop to transact retail sales and restock shelves.

Training and name tags are provided. Dress is casual, but professional (khakis and polo).

From Labor Day to Memorial Day the Visitor Center and Gift Shop are open Wednesday through Sunday 9 a.m.-4 p.m. From Memorial Day to Labor Day the VC and GS are open seven days a week from 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

Contact Person: Lori Henderson

First Fruits Homestead

First Fruits Homestead will give you an opportunity to work outdoors at a farm and garden. This is a brand new service opportunity that is a unique opportunity for students. The mission set before us is to provide our community with safe and nutritious fruits, vegetables and meat while striving to bring people closer to Christ while working the land He has provided. Produce with Purpose is our ministry share program. This ministry will provide a portion of our CSA shares, free-of-charge to local families and individuals experiencing food insecurity as well as showing them the love of Christ.

First Fruits is a new agency, so there are many opportunities for volunteers including assisting with planting and harvesting the garden to helping with the livestock (cows, chickens), etc.

Contact Person: Jerry
Telephone: 217-273-6499


Fit-2-Serve is local non-profit organization that is a catalyst for a stronger collaborative community through strengths, service, and relationships. We are specifically passionate about strengthening relational restoration through intergenerational learning, community gardening, and farm to table culinary classes!

With our community gardening, we celebrate that it is 90% community development and 10% gardening. Fit-2-Serve maintains several community gardens in Mattoon. We are recruiting volunteers for “a day in the garden” to assist us in all things gardening to include harvesting the produce this fall. At any given time, volunteer gardeners from elementary schools, scouts, daycares, and local adult service organizations are tending and harvesting produce that is in turn supplied to a) taste testing for area children through Project Lifespan (our intergenerational program) and Farm-2-Table culinary classes, b) Mark's My Store – a local independent grocery store, and c) Bidwell's restaurant, a local independent bistro.

Volunteers can “drop – in” or schedule a “day at the garden” as a student group or class. Fit-2-Serve is also open to having college students serve as interns to support our mission to equip people for works of service.

Contact Person: Bill Duey
Telephone: 708-829-7324

Lake Charleston Trails

More information coming soon.

Contact Person:

5 Mile House

More information coming soon.

Contact Person:

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Civic Engagement and Volunteerism

Eastern Illinois University
MLK Jr. Union 3rd Floor
Charleston, IL 61920

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