Become a Volunteer Land Steward

Training sessions provide an in-person opportunity for volunteers to interact, share stories, and meet mentors, new volunteers, and staff.

Volunteer Land Steward Training Session
Date: Wednesday, May 20th, 2015
Time: 2PM – 5PM
Location: HWLC Conservation Easement property (less than 10 minutes east of Gaylord). Directions provided upon registration.

Registration required.

Call 989-731-0573 or email to register.
Interested in becoming a Volunteer Land Steward but not available on May 20th? No problem! Contact Libby at the HWLC office for more information.

You will learn how to:

Volunteer Land Stewards Jerry Smith and Dave Nadolsky

Volunteer Land Stewards Jerry Smith and Dave Nadolsky

  • Prepare for a safe and effective visit
  • Read and interpret a Baseline Report and Conservation Easement
  • Conduct a thorough stewardship visit
  • Complete post-stewardship reporting (addressing any changes or concerns found on site)

Volunteer Land Steward Position Description

The Volunteer Land Steward will support land management activities on HWLC conserved lands located throughout northeast Michigan. The Volunteer Land Steward will support the monitoring of fee-owned lands and conservation easements. Monitoring field work will involve traversing properties by foot to take photos and make observations about vegetation, wildlife, hydrology, boundaries, and other site conditions. The intern will be responsible for completing monitoring reports that include written observations, maps, and photos. In addition to monitoring activities, the Volunteer Land Steward will have the opportunity to participate in a variety of land management activities such as mapping, infrastructure maintenance, weed control, and ecological surveys. The position will provide training and exposure to environmental field work, land management practices, ecological restoration practices, and land conservation methods and issues.

Volunteer Land Stewards play a central role in the HeadWaters Land Conservancy Conservation Easement Stewardship Program. Trained by HWLC stewardship staff, Volunteer Land Stewards monitor properties, document threats, and assist with on-the-ground management of protect lands. As a Volunteer Land Steward, you are HWLC’s eyes and ears in the field and ambassadors to neighboring landowners and communities.

Land Steward Responsibilities

  • Understand the mission and purposes of HWLC, Conservation Easement Stewardship Program
     procedures, and a working knowledge of conservation easements
  • Complete on-the-ground inspections of easement properties and document any changes on the land with photos, maps, and written descriptions
  • Maintain confidentiality of our landowners and their properties
  • Discuss observations and concerns with staff
  • Cultivate positive relationships with landowners
  • Help keep monitoring records and easement files up to date
  • Perform a minimum of 3-4 monitoring visits to a designated site annually*
  • Monitor and maintain written and photographed reports of site conditions
  • Monitor and report on management concerns including invasive species, garbage dumping, road problems, illegal recreational use
  • Build a community team dedicated to the property by recruiting neighbors, friends and co-workers to help in stewardship and conservation advocacy; coordinate a volunteer work party at the site once per year or more**
  • Post boundaries as needed

*Land Stewards work closely with HWLC’s Land Protection Specialist to select a site that matches the volunteer’s interests and abilities. Sites may be fee-owned (HWLC property) or conservation easement sites. **Volunteer events must receive authorization from HWLC prior to planning and implementation.


  • Participate in the Volunteer Land Steward Certification Program
  • Personal vehicle for transportation to and from site. In some cases, 4WD maybe needed
  • Physically active and able to walk ½ mile or more. In some cases, 1-2 mile hiking on steep terrain may be required.
  • Knowledge of northeast Michigan ecosystems and interest in environmental stewardship


Land Stewardship Volunteers are so critical to our work that HWLC has created the Land Stewardship Volunteer Certification Program. All Land Stewardship Volunteers are asked to complete a certification process.

To become certified, you must:

  • Complete a volunteer application
  • Read and sign the Land Stewardship Volunteer Handbook and Confidentiality Agreement
  • Attend an initial training session, and supplemental training at minimum of every two years
  • All first year Land Stewardship Volunteers must visit a protected property with an experienced Land Stewardship Volunteer. Your “mentor” will show you the ropes of monitoring in the field.


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