There are many different ways you can be involved with Friends.
Volunteer with us, attend a Friends' special event, take independent action, or become a member. We welcome you to one or all of these opportunities.
To start, sign up for our e-news to get updates on river news, policy updates, and fun events. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for great photos, videos, and fun activities occurring at the Chicago River.
Whether you're looking to do restoration in the field or help at special events, Friends is able to increase it's impact because of the many volunteers who dontate their time and energy.
First, get on the same page with the rest of the CREW by becoming a Chicago River Eco-Warrior. By filling out our volunteer questionnaire and telling us your interests, talents, certifications and availability, we can contact you with specific events which match your interests. Plus, you will get our monthly CREW emails to keep you informed of what's been going on, what's coming up and other important Friends updates.
Read through our Volunteer Information Packet to get an overview of the River and the work Friends does and talk about Friends and the River to your friends, family and community! Word of mouth is proven to be one of the most valuble ways to increase our reach.
Consider becoming a volunteer canoe guide. This is a serious commitment, but not with serious people. Our canoe program relies on the dedication of our all volunteer canoe guide team. It's a lot of fun, a great group of people, and an important way to connect people to the river. Download the application. Enrollment and training are held in the winter and spring!
Check out our events page to find out more about upcoming volunteer events, like Chicago River Day, restoration workdays and other Friends' events.
Learn about the Chicago River by visiting the McCormick Bridgehouse & Chicago River Museum. Beginning at river level and spiraling five stories up, this vertical adventure provides a one-of-a-kind opportunity to explore a historic landmark bridgehouse.
Join us for a canoe trip. Paddling the river is so fun. It's a great way to develop a personal connection with this imporant bit of nature running through our city. Seeing the birds, turtles, and mink along its banks inspires every paddler to help as a caretaker of this great natural resource.
Get fancy at the Big Fish Ball. The Big Fish Ball is Friends' largest fundraising event bringing together 500 leaders and young professionals from the Chicago community to the river with an amazing opportunity to engage with river wildlife and a delightful three-course dinner. The program honors recipients of the Chicago River Blue Awards, the highest achievement in river-sensitive designs along the river.
Take Independent Action
We can do things everyday to help improve water quality and river habitat. Here are a couple ways to be involved from home or work:
- Embrace a Litter Free Life. Plan your own litter cleanup using our Litter Free Toolkit (or a similar toolkit in Spanish from American Rivers), and borrow cleanup tools from our Litter Free Supply Stations.
- Make water conservation part of your daily life Check out these easy ways to conserve water.
- Help keep stormwater and wastewater out of our waterways by signing up for. Overflow Action Days alerts. Before or during a heavy rain event we send gentle reminders on how to conserve water as well as including interesting links, videos, and facts about water conservation.
- Be the eyes and ears of the river: Know "Who to Call" when you see pollution in the river.
- Plant native plants like milkweed and prairie grasses with long root systems to help filter and trap rainwater.
- Consider a planting a raingarden, especially in the low points of your property. This helps keep water out of your basement too.
- Install a rainbarrel or other innovative ideas on trapping stormwater.
- Choose permiable pavers when renovating your landscaping to allow water to seep into the ground where it falls and keep it out of overloaded storm drains.
- Test your soil before fertilizing. Get the beautiful lawn you want by applying only the nutrients needed, keeping the excess out of our waterways. It saves time and money.
Become a Member
Help us make the Chicago River one of the world's greatest metropolitan rivers. Support Friends of the Chicago River by becoming a member today. We are excited to share everything we know about the river and how to make it better for people, plants, and animals.