Make a Difference and Join the Parks Volunteer Program!
The Parks Volunteer Program is a partnership that not only benefits Dane County Parks, but also park users and the Dane County community. Each year thousands of volunteers of all ages restore native habitat, conduct research, serve as park advocates and public relation representatives, assist with conservation projects and fundraising, promote informational and educational activities and more.
Dane County Parks has a variety of volunteer opportunities, ranging from one-time events to more in-depth projects that allow you to develop a deeper connection to the parks and trails you love.
To view volunteer events, click the link below. Then check the volunteer box in the "Search by Category" list and click on Search. To explore more in depth opportunities, review the list of ideas below or contact the Volunteer Coordinator to discuss what opportunities might best fit your skills and interests.
Contact (unless specified otherwise):
Rhea Stangel-Maier, Volunteer Coordinator
Dane County Parks
If you are interested in any of the below opportunities, please check out our event calendar. As volunteer days are scheduled, they will be posted on this calendar.
- Prairie Seed Collection: Seed Collecting is a fun project for individuals, families and groups. Volunteers enjoy getting off the trails and wading into the prairies and learning about wildflowers. This project happens in August and September.
- Prairie Seed Cleaning & Processing
- Prairie Seeding & Planting
- Summer Natural Areas Weed Control: Work includes digging and/or cutting parsnip, sweet clover, queen ann’s lace and burdock, cutting and treating or digging out woody invasives, and collecting early prairie seeds such as golden alexander and alum root. This projects runs during June, July and August.
- Invasive Tree & Brush Removal: This project volves removing invasive species and non-native plants throughout our Park system. This project could potentially use bow saws, loppers and stump pullers to remove invasive and non-native species, which then allows native plant species to thrive. We provide tools, or you can bring your own. This can be a great project for individuals or groups. Kids 10 years old or older are welcome when accompanied by parent or other adult.
We have a number of unique opportunities and opportunities requiring special skills that volunteers can assist us with. If you are interested in one of the below opportunities, please fill out the Volunteer Registration Form (PDF) and send to the Volunteer Coordinator, Rhea Stangel-Maier.
- Bird House & Trail Maintenance
- Campground Host: are you outgoing, love meeting new people, enjoy camping and Dane County Parks? We have 5 parks with campgrounds and each area has a volunteer camp host who lives in the campground. These volunteers provide public relations resources to our park patrons.
- Disc Golf Park Stewardship
- Dog Park Stewardship
- Fundraising: use your savvy financial knowledge to help a Friends Group with a fundraiser.
- Herbicide Application: volunteers treat stumps to prevent re-growth, individually or as part of a workday group. Those who want to become Volunteers treat stumps to prevent re-growth, individually or as part of a workday group. Those who want to become Certified Pesticide Applicators must pass the State’s "Right of Way" test as training. The study guide and test costs $50. We will provide a kit with supplies and herbicide. For more information on this training, please visit: UW Certified Pesticide Applicator Training Information.
- Marketing and Social Media: help park Friends Groups spread the word about their work and events.
- Native Plant Propagation: grow native plants for our parks.
- Office Assistant
- Park Cleanup
- Park Docent
- Park History: Do you enjoy historical research? Try your hand at researching your favorite County park and help preserve Dane County Parks history. Your written material may be used on park information kiosks, brochures or in future publications.
- Photography and Videography: help capture the beauty of our park system.
- Prescribed Burn Volunteer
- Tool Maintenance: this volunteer project provides safe, clean, effective and accessible tools and equipment for volunteers. It is suitable for one to five people. We’re looking for people who are familiar with tools and who have an ability to diagnose a problem and fix it.
- Special Event Volunteer
- Tours and Nature Walks: do you have a knowledge and passion for birds, trees, wildflowers or something else in nature? Work with a Friends Group to lead a nature walk or educational event for the public.
- Trail Monitoring
Lussier Family Heritage Center
The Lussier Family Heritage Center, a Dane County Parks Facility, has a number of volunteer teams that focus on:
- Education and Interpretation
- Special Events
- Service Projects
Friends groups are groups of people who volunteer their time and services in support of the Dane County Park System. Join one of the following groups today and help support a legacy for tomorrow.
Friends Group List
- Friends of Anderson Farm County Park (website/Ffacebook)
- Badger Prairie Community Garden (website/Facebook)
- Friends of Brigham County Park
- Friends of CamRock County Park (website)
- Capital Off Road Pathfinders (website/Facebook)
- Friends of Capital Springs Recreation Area (website/Facebook)
- Friends of Cherokee Marsh (website/Facebook)
- Friends of Donald County Park (website/Facebook)
- Friends of Festge County Park (Facebook)
- Friends of Indian Lake County Park (website/Facebook)
- Friends of Lake View Hill Park (Facebook)
- Friends of Old Halfway Prairie School (Facebook)
- Friends of Mazo Marsh and Walking Iron Prairie
- Friends of McCarthy Youth & Conservation County Park (Facebook)
- Friends of Pheasant Branch Conservancy (website/Facebook)
- Friends of Prairie Moraine County Park
- Friends of Schumacher Farm (website/Facebook)
- Friends of Stewart Lake (website/Facebook)
- Friends of Silverwood County Park (website/Facebook)
- Friends of Viking County Park (Facebook)
Friends Group Descriptions
Friends of CamRock Park
The Friends of CamRock Park is a young group with lots of enthusiasm, and are committed to our beautiful CamRock Park areas! The Friends formed in response to the removal of the Rockdale Dam in 2000, which left open mudflats and changed the course of the Koshkonong Creek (still changing). The Friends are restoring habitat, both in the newly exposed areas and in parkland.
The Dane County chapter of WORBA (Wisconsin Off-Road Bicycle Association), known as CORPS ( Capital Off Road Pathfinders), has a signed Memorandum of Understanding with the Dane County Parks Department to construct and maintain mountain bike trails at CamRock Park (and also at Badger Prairie County Park), based on the park’s master plan and approval process. Some members of WORBA-CORP are also active members of the Friends of CamRock Park and many of the habitat restoration projects done by the Friends are also done by WORBA-CORP members as part of their trail work. The Friends of CamRock look forward to helping Dane County Parks with their task of maintaining and improving natural areas, and safeguarding our environment for future generations.
Friends of Old Halfway Prairie School
The Old Halfway Prairie Schoolhouse is at the intersection of Hwy. 19 and Hwy. F.
For more information, or to schedule a field trip, please contact Cleo Brockman at 608-767-2211 or Darlene Grover at 608-271-2265.
Halfway Prairie Schoolhouse is the oldest rural elementary school in Dane County. It was in operation from 1855 until 1962. Its name comes from its location halfway between Mineral Point and Portage, on a popular route for early miners, who used to camp nearby. Today the site, a property of Dane County Parks, consists of the schoolhouse, a picnic area with a gazebo, a small playground, a hand water pump, a storage garage and bathroom facilities.
The Friends of Halfway Prairie Schoolhouse is a volunteer group founded in 1967 by Mrs. Violette Cairns, a former student and mother of former students, and Mrs. James Woodburn, of the Dane County Historical Society. Their purpose was to restore and preserve the setting and atmosphere of the oldest rural one-room schoolhouse in the county, and to maintain it as a museum open to the public. Since 1967, the Friends have restored and maintained the museum. They have sought out and purchased artifacts needed to complete the restoration. The one-room schoolhouse is set up with desks, books and other artifacts of school life from the 1930’s. The Friends group keeps the schoolhouse open on Sunday afternoons, between Memorial Day and Labor Day. They also conduct tours for school groups, by appointment. Members of the Friends group open the building, care for the artifacts, and serve as guides for the visiting public. The Friends group also holds an annual meeting and an annual picnic at the park. It is solely because of the efforts of this group that the historical nature of the has been preserved.
- Volunteer Instructions (PDF)
Natural Areas Program Resources
Individual sections form the Volunteer Handbook are linked below as individual PDFs:
- Brush Pile Burning Policies and Procedures Checklist (PDF)
- Dog Exercise Areas (PDF)
- Driving on Trails (PDF)
- Fire Department Contact Information (PDF)
- Herbicide Recommendations (PDF)
- Tips for a Successful Brush Pile Fire (PDF)
- Tool and Supply Pickup Locations (PDF)
- Using Herbicides and Herbicide Best Management Practices (PDF)
- Volunteer Etiquette and Responsibilities (PDF)
- Volunteer Positions (PDF)
Controlled Prairie Burns
- How to Manage Small Prairie Fires (PDF 1988)
- Conducting Burns, Chapter 14 of The Tallgrass Restoration Handbook (PDF 2005)
- Prescribed Burning (WI Department of Natural Resources, WI DNR)
Aquatic & Terrestrial Invasive Species Information
- Dane County Land & Water Resources Department website
- Wisconsin Invasive Species Calendar (UW Extension)
- WI Department of Natural Resources (WI DNR)
- Invasive Plants Association of Wisconsin (IPAW)
- Monitoring Invasive Plants in Wisconsin (PDF)
- Invasive Plants of Wisconsin (University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, UWGB)