Douglas-Hart Nature Center promotes volunteerism

Lynnsey Veach, City Editor

Students that are looking to give back to the community can do so by volunteering at the Douglas-Hart Nature Center.

The Douglas-Hart Nature Center consists of 65 acres of land including prairie, woodland and wetlands.

The center includes a visitor center that is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays and 1 to 4 p.m. Sundays.

Dakota Radford, the Volunteer Coordinator at the Douglas-Hart Nature Center, said the center is in need of volunteers during the winter months from the Charleston and Eastern communities.

“Though the Douglas-Hart Nature Center does not have a large staff, we are able to accomplish big things for the environment and for our community,” Radford said.

Jennifer Day Tariq, the Education Director at the Center said they are always looking for help throughout the year, and volunteers are needed in a variety of ways.

Volunteers can sign up for three hour shifts to keep the Nature Center open on weekends and assist with ongoing programs and conservation projects.

Radford said that in February the center will begin planting seeds in their heated greenhouse.

Tariq said there also is a Conservation Crew that meets every Tuesday and Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to10:30 a.m. who works on a variety of tasks depending on the season. Tasks might include removing invasive species, planting in the greenhouse and general maintenance.

“The Conservation Crew genuinely does care about the natural habitats at the Nature Center,” Tariq said.

Radford said the center is very grateful for the support from many of the Eastern students and staff that have volunteered their time over the years.

Various clubs, fraternities, sororities, and athletic teams have visited and helped out at the center.

“It’s a great opportunity to earn (service) hours for the club or as an individual who can list their hours on their professional resume in the near future,” Tariq said.

During the Douglas-Hart Nature Center’s normal business hours of Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. is typically the best time to volunteer at the center, Tariq said.

Anyone interested in volunteering can contact Dakota Radford at 217-235-4644 or email [email protected]

“We are really encouraging individuals and groups to contact us to set up a time to help,” Radford said.

Tariq said children preferably age 6 to 12 are welcomed to attend Friday Night Fun, a kid friendly event that includes pizza and games. This is a new program for 2016 at the center, offered once a month starting Jan. 15.

Parents can register their children by calling 217-235-4644, by stopping in the Nature Center, or through their online calendar at


Lynnsey Veach can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]