The "last falls," circa 2010. By George Schreck.

"Volunteering is the ultimate exercise in democracy. You vote in elections once a year, but when you volunteer, you vote every day about the kind of community you want to live in."

Marjorie Moore
Minds Eye Information Service
Belleville, IL

The Friends of Salt Springs Park is a volunteer-based organization. Volunteers establish and maintain trails, run programs, paint buildings, plant trees and flowers, chop wood, raise money, help visitors, join the Board of Directors, build shelves . . . everything needed to keep the park safe, clean, and open for free to all every day of the year.

Contact us today to get involved!

Annual Volunteer Work Day

Every April we set aside a Saturday for park spring cleaning—Spring Cleanup Day. In 2024, Spring Cleanup Day will be held on Saturday, April 20 (9 a.m.).

We look for people to come with their own equipment, go out to pre-selected sites, and tackle fallen trees and other larger issues. We also break up into groups and head out. We do things like pick up garbage, remove winter debris, rake leaves and rocks, and clear trails.

To show our appreciation, each year we provide all volunteers with hot beverages, food and a T-shirt.

Note! If you or your group can't make on this day, give us a call anyway. We can use your help all year long.

"We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give."

Winston Churchill

A Sample of Other Volunteer Opportunities

Weekend Host: Supervise the Wheaton House on weekend afternoons, provide park and historical information, monitor sales, and assist visitors and campers

Special Events: Help to organize and/or conduct one or more of our yearly events (Trail Race, Beer & Wine Fest)

Small Repairs: Become a "handyperson" and help with the many small repair and maintenance problems that arise

Woodworker: Make park signs, build shelving units and book cases, repair/maintain wood floors

Scrap-booking: Make scrapbooks out of our newspaper articles, photographs, and publicity mementos

Fund Raiser: Help to organize and/or conduct a large fund-raising project for the park

University Liaison: Help tap the student and faculty resources at local colleges and universities

Special Projects:

  • Investigate the possibility of re-opening the methane gas well
  • Build a to-scale replica of the former woolen mill; investigate re-creating the woolen mill
  • Design and present a public program that showcases your special interest or skill: basket weaving, caning, oral history. . . .

Other - You create! Join the increasing number of volunteers participating in the park's future with your own ideas and enthusiasm!

April 23. Trail Day—another tradition at Salt Springs. Volunteers get this park ready for the season by cleaning everything from flower beds to barn rafters!

Other Reasons to Volunteer

The online publication How to Volunteer as a Senior (produced by Aginginplace.org, a resource hub about specific aspects of aging) outlines many ways people benefit from volunteering. Although the publication was written specifically for seniors, and the research cited is largely from studies involving seniors, the benefits of volunteering are not limited to seniors.

I quote: "Volunteering has its social, mental, and physical benefits for people of all ages."

The publication is a quick (about 14-minute), easy, yet thoughtful and thought-provoking read. These are the benefits identified:

Volunteering is socially beneficial: "Volunteering at events . . . [is] a great way to interact with a wide range of people in the community."

Volunteering is good for your mental cognition: People of all ages need to stay active and use their brains. "Volunteering provides opportunities to keep conversation flowing, constantly stimulate the brain, and help overall cognitive functions stay active."

Volunteering helps give back to the community: People can benefit from your knowledge, and places can benefit from your skills.

Volunteering is physically engaging: We are all aging, and "inactivity as you age can promote the advancement of heart issues, bone loss, joint pain, fat, and a slew of other health issues." Keep moving!

Volunteering is a great way to learn new things: Choose opportunities to learn about subjects and skills you can't pursue in your current (or previous) employment. And, "all of this learning plays into the cognitive health benefits of volunteering we mentioned before."

Volunteering helps fill up a day and is flexible: "Volunteering can help get you out of the house a couple times a week and keep your social engagements alive. But the best part? It can be done on your own schedule!"

There are other reasons, as well, more specific to individual people's lives and situations. Come talk to us about your interests and skills and needs. We'll match them up with some of our needs, and we'll ALL benefit!


"I volunteer at Salt Springs because it is a tranquil place where I can get back to nature and back to myself."

Ellen Fortunato (Gardening)

Volunteers of the Year


It could be you!


It could be you!


Ken Thompson

Ken Thompson (left) is another treasured volunteer who is always willing to pitch in. Over the years, Ken has helped with trail maintenance; trail race preparations; making firewood; riparian buffer plantings; sign restoration, painting, and placing (meaning digging holes and pouring concrete!); and weekend hosting.


Because of the pandemic, we could not hold regular work days or gatherings throughout most of the year. We carried on as usual as much as possible and always with the help of our many dedicated volunteers.

We are endlessly grateful for all of them. 


Jim & Jan Kessler – volunteer of the year 2019

Jim Kessler, shown here with his wife, Jan, was chosen for his many years of service in the park. He was a member of the board and remains a member of the Environmental Education Committee, and he has led programs here since the Friends' early days.



The Merrit family, Kyle (not shown; he's working on the other side of the porch), Bridget, and Harper help us on Trail Days in April and organized the Silent Auction during the Celebration.



Rick Heinrich, in addition to helping us out on our April workdays, stops in every couple of weeks in the spring, summer, and fall to tend the Wheaton House lawn and barn beds. He also responds favorably when we ask for his help with odd jobs, which in 2017 included some painting in both farmhouses, clearing Japanese knotweed patches, and planting spring bulbs.



These friends, Donna Foster (top) and Betty Marshall, became Weekend Hosts in 2011 and have hosted together ever since. And, not only do they sign up for more hours a summer than we ask for, but they always help us out during the Celebration, too. Read a bit more about them.



Mike Merritt helps mount our annual Quilt Show and makes many trail and garden signs for us.



Greg Liggett is a builder who oversaw the construction of the Williams Pavilion by dozens of members of his church.