We are always looking for volunteers to help with various projects. We accept volunteers of any age, walk of life, or background. Our volunteer corp includes master naturalists, high school students, college students, retired persons, working mothers, and many other citizen scientists. Email our collection manager to get started today!

Potential projects include:

  • Re-vialing specimens:
    • We have 200k vials with degrading stoppers that threaten the safety and integrity of our biological heritage. Please help us replace them!
“Melting” vials that have deteriorated over time at the Illinois Natural History Survey Insect Collection. These ones are unfortunately too far gone to be saved.
  • Re-enveloping dragonflies:
    • We are replacing the opaque “envelopes” that hold part of our dragonfly/damselfly collection as they are non-archival and also obscure the specimens themselves. We have about 4000 or so to go!
Enveloped specimen in the INHS Insect Collection, awaiting transfer to a new archival envelope.
A typical dragonfly drawer at the INHS Insect Collection. Note the multiple opaque envelopes and the clear one that needs sealed.
  • Specimen mounting
    • We have potentially ~100,000 (or more) specimens in our “backlog” that are unaccessible to scientists because they aren’t mounted or labeled.
    • Requires attention to detail and a bit more instruction, but would be VERY helpful!
Thousands of specimens await mounting and labeling in this “unsorted/unlabeled/unmounted” drawer at the INHS Insect Collection.
  • Labeling drawers, unit trays, and reorganizing
    • As specimens move in the collection and are curated, header and drawer labels need to be changed. Using existing templates, help us by creating and printing nice new labels for our specimens!
  • Various cleaning tasks
    • Over time our drawers get dusty, we would love to have someone come clean them.
    • A little bit of vacuuming never hurts, and it also reduces the risk of pests infesting the collection.
  • Your project here!
    • Nothing here excite you? Contact the collection manager and ask about other projects! We’re always happy to help find you a niche in the collection workspace.