6500 Alden Hwy, Bellaire, MI 49615
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Our mission To manage the Grass River Natural Area, conserve and protect its watershed, and provide opportunities that increase knowledge, appreciation and community-wide stewardship of the natural environment.

Grass River Natural Area

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Ways to help

Vernal Pool Monitor

Vernal Pools are ephemeral wetlands that fill with water in the spring and usually dry out by late summer. They are critical breeding habitat for many rare animals, including fairy shrimp and several species of amphibians and reptiles. Vernal Pool Monitors have the opportunity to contribute to an integral part of the GRNA Natural Resources Management Plan, as volunteer-led efforts to sustain and monitor natural features like vernal pools is a key component of the management plan. Vernal Pool Monitors collect data at one or more of GRNA’s vernal pools three times throughout the year, twice in the spring and once in the late summer or fall to verify pool drying. Collected data is used to guide resource management decisions at GRNA.
  • Occasional
  • 55+, Adults
  • Individuals
  • Outdoor
  • Formal
  • Weekdays, Weekends

Stream Monitors

Stream Monitors have the opportunity to contribute to an integral part of the GRNA Natural Resources Management Plan, as volunteer-led efforts to sustain and monitor the health of our streams is a key component of the management plan. Stream Monitors take part in two stream sampling events each year, one in the spring and one in the fall. Sampling involves working in a small team of volunteers to collect macroinvertebrates at a creek site and sorting through them for later identification by expert entomologists. Collected data is used to guide resource management decisions at GRNA.
  • Occasional
  • 55+, Adults
  • Individuals
  • Outdoor
  • Formal
  • Weekdays, Weekends

Land & Trail Steward

Stewards perform basic trail maintenance functions including trimming, simple boardwalk repair, removing debris, and sign replacement or installment. This position may also entail manually removing invasive plant species. Trail maintenance will be conducted using a variety of hand tools which require training on how to properly and safely use the tools. The Land and Trail Steward may work independently or assist staff with larger stewardship projects.
  • Occasional, Monthly
  • 55+, Adults
  • Individuals
  • Physical, Outdoor
  • Formal
  • Weekdays, Weekends

Butterfly Monitor

Butterfly Monitors have the opportunity to contribute to an integral part of the GRNA Natural Resources Management Plan, as volunteer-led efforts to sustain and monitor biological diversity is a key component of the management plan. Butterfly Monitors adopt a section of trail and walk it regularly throughout the summer, identifying and documenting butterfly populations for the Michigan Butterfly Network, a statewide program that aims to collect data on the distribution and abundance of butterflies across Michigan. Collected data is used to guide resource management decisions at GRNA.
  • Occasional, Weekly, Monthly
  • 55+, Adults
  • Individuals
  • Outdoor
  • Formal
  • Weekdays, Weekends

Facilities Volunteer

Facilities Volunteers have the opportunity to take part in a variety of maintenance, repair, and skilled trades that help to maintain and enhance our buildings. Facilities include the Nature Center, cabin, outhouses, garden shed, and barn. Examples of activities are painting outhouses, repairing a leaky toilet, replacing light bulbs/fixtures, performing routine engine maintenance, and washing windows.
  • Occasional, Monthly
  • 55+, Adults
  • Individuals
  • Indoor, Outdoor
  • On-site, Formal, Skilled
  • Weekdays, Weekends

Event Volunteer

Events Volunteers plan and execute several family-friendly events held at GRNA throughout the year, including Winterfest and the Grass River Shiver in January, Maplefest in March, Summer Kick-off in June, Autumnfest in October, and Holiday Crafts for Kids in December. Planning takes place within the Events Committee, which meets about once a month, depending on the schedule of upcoming events, and is led by a GRNA, Inc. staff member. Planning involves making decisions on dates, times, activities, refreshments, and entertainment. On the day of events, Events Volunteers may fill several roles, including checking visitors in, leading activities or games, taking photographs, or setting up and cleaning up.
  • Occasional, Monthly
  • 55+, Adults
  • Individuals
  • Event support
  • On-site, Formal
  • Weekdays, Evenings, Weekends

Native Plant Gardener

Native Plant Gardeners maintain the established plantings around the Nature Center, including the wetland, meadow, and serenity gardens. Gardeners will be responsible for weeding, watering, and general maintenance of the native species in our gardens. These volunteers will also have the opportunity to participate in the Nature Center Garden Club.
  • Weekly, Monthly
  • 55+, Adults
  • Individuals
  • Physical, Outdoor
  • Formal
  • Weekdays, Weekends

Maple Sugaring Volunteer

Maple Sugaring Volunteers run our maple sugaring program, usually during February and March. Volunteers prep equipment, tap trees, collect sap, split wood, and run the maple syrup evaporator to make maple syrup. Volunteers may provide demonstrations to the public during public events. At the end of the season they assist in clean up and storage of equipment until the next season.
  • Occasional
  • 55+, Adults
  • Individuals
  • Physical, Outdoor
  • Formal
  • Weekdays, Weekends

Office Volunteer

Office volunteers help with various office jobs as needed. This work includes but is not limited to data entry, note writing, help with mailings, and filing.
  • Weekly, Monthly
  • 55+, Adults
  • Individuals
  • Office work, Indoor
  • Formal
  • Weekdays

Board of Directors

The board supports the work of GRNA, Inc. and provides mission-based leadership and strategic governance. While day-to-day operations are led by the Executive Director, the relationship between the board and the Executive Director is a partnership, and the appropriate involvement of the board is both critical and expected.
  • Occasional
  • 55+, Adults
  • Individuals
  • Indoor
  • Formal, Skilled
  • Weekdays, Evenings

Outreach Volunteer

Outreach volunteers serve as ambassadors to GRNA, Inc. by sharing information about who we are and what we do with the public. By being present at regional events and festivals, outreach volunteers share their knowledge of Grass River’s ecology and history with the public. Outreach volunteers also serve as the face of GRNA in many instances by serving as the first point of contact for many potential visitors and by answering basic questions both about the natural area programs and trails as well as the surrounding community.
  • Occasional
  • 55+, Adults
  • Individuals
  • Event support, Indoor, Outdoor
  • Formal
  • Weekdays, Evenings, Weekends

Program Aide

Education Program Aides assist with large educational programs, including school field trips, home school programs, public programs, family festivals, and events. Volunteers provide support and assistance to Naturalists while they lead classes or events for children or adults. Assistance during field trips may include preparation of programs, distributing supplies, supervising groups of children, answering questions, redirecting students, and possibly some teaching. During larger festival events, volunteers may assist in directing visitors or leading an activity. Most programs range from 2 to 5 hours in length.
  • Occasional, Monthly
  • 55+, Adults
  • Individuals
  • Indoor, Outdoor
  • Formal
  • Weekdays, Weekends

Parcel Monitor

Parcel Monitors have the opportunity to contribute to an integral part of the GRNA Natural Resources Management Plan, as volunteer-led efforts to monitor the health of the natural area is a key priority. Parcel Monitors work in small teams of volunteers to walk GRNA’s almost 70 parcels, collecting data on an iPad in the ArcGIS Collector app. The goal of parcel monitoring is to look for anything amiss within the natural area, including unauthorized human disturbance or invasive plants, as well as make note of interesting features that could have educational or scientific value. GRNA, Inc. attempts to monitor each parcel within the natural area at least every two years.
  • Occasional, Monthly
  • 55+, Adults
  • Individuals, Groups (2-10)
  • Outdoor
  • Formal
  • Weekdays, Weekends

Docent

Docents serve as interpreters for visitors, connecting them to the incredible natural world of GRNA. Working in either the Nature Center or on the trails as guides, docents share their knowledge of GRNA’s ecology and history with the public. Docents may also assist staff with event set up and preparation and help with other tasks around the Nature Center as well as be recruited as lead volunteers for select volunteer days.
  • Weekly, Monthly
  • 55+, Adults
  • Individuals
  • Indoor, Outdoor
  • Formal
  • Weekdays, Weekends

Committee Member

Committees support the work of both the Board and the staff by focusing their efforts on tasks and projects related to a specific area of focus.
  • Monthly
  • 21+, 55+
  • Individuals
  • Indoor
  • None, Skilled
  • Weekdays, Evenings
How you help Without our generous and knowledgeable volunteers, Grass River Natural Area would not exist as we know it today. There are a variety of fun and rewarding volunteer opportunities at Grass River covering many interests. We are sure you'll find an opportunity that is perfect for you!
About us Grass River Natural Area is a 1,492 acre nature preserve surrounding the Grass River, located in the heart of Antrim County. Along with the beautiful views of Grass River, we also offer seven miles of well-maintained trails including 1.5 miles of boardwalk floating above northern fen and cedar wetlands. With all of these natural features, Grass River Natural Area offers visitors an outdoor, living laboratory to explore and learn. The Grass River Center is open year-round, offering a comfortable learning environment for public programming, school field trips, camps, and more.
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