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, X (formerly Twitter), and Instagram for great photos, videos, and fun activities occurring on the Chicago-Calumet 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.

  • Plan a River Action Day to improve and protect the river system with your business or community group. 


  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Sign up for the Race for the River 5K and festival at River Park. Celebrate the river’s renaissance by traversing this river trail with hundreds of fellow runners and revelers at the Race for the River 5K. Join us in exploring the North Shore Channel trail and recent river-edge improvements that expand the health and climate resiliency of the Chicago-Calumet River system and support equitable, open access for all.  

  • 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.

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:

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.