Seal of Dane County County of Dane
Dane County Parks

Certified Land Steward

The Certified Land Steward Program is for active volunteers in the Dane County Park System who want to conduct ecological restoration work at specific park sites, either by working independently and/or leading volunteer workdays. As is the nature of natural areas management and restoration work, there is always more work than can be completed. Staff and Certified Land Stewards work together year-round to combat exotic weeds, clear out invasive trees and brush, collect native seed, and make Dane County Park natural areas shine!

Details & Requirements

Land Stewards receive:

  • Dane County Parks volunteer shirts, hats, and seasonal volunteer swag.
  • "Dane County Parks Volunteer" car magnets or laminated card to identify your vehicle while working in the park system, if driving within the park is necessary.
  • Numerous opportunities to socialize, network, and meet people from all over the county. 
  • Yearly training and education opportunities related to stewardship and land management. 

Certified Land Steward Orientation:
Volunteers must go through our Certified Land Steward Orientation prior to working independently in park natural areas. This orientation is scheduled once enough people express interest, typically once or twice a year. Click the "Current Trainings" button below to see if there is an orientation scheduled. If an orientation is not currently scheduled, email to be added to the interest list.  After volunteers go through the orientation, additional guidance will be provided by staff. 

Certified Land Stewards receive a hard copy of the Natural Areas Volunteer Handbook (PDF), a helpful volunteer resource.

Additional Trainings: 
Dane County Parks offers a variety of free or low-cost trainings to supplement volunteer knowledge. These include:

  • Level 1 & 2 Chainsaw Safety Trainings 
  • Prescribed Fire 
  • Herbicide Application 
  • Small tool and equipment maintenance 

Certified Land Stewards represent Dane County Parks and are expected to act as a good role model, follow all park rules, and act in accordance to the points stipulated in the volunteer agreement as outlined in the Volunteer Registration Form (PDF). 


  • Work independently or with others through a hosted workday at a Dane County Parks property to conduct restoration work during specific seasons or year-round. Work includes: invasive species removal, invasive brush cutting and piling, brush pile burning (in winter/snow on ground), native seed collection, and more.
  • Join staff and volunteers to help conduct prescribed burns, or applying for grants to receive funds for contracted prescribed burns.
  • Create an annual work plan with park staff. 

Additional Responsibilities 

  • Consult Natural Areas staff prior to new restoration work beginning, so as to ensure there are no conflicts with a site or future project management.
  • Check in with Natural Areas staff throughout the year and use an annual work plan as a guide throughout the season. Staff are happy to have on-site meetings throughout the year to discuss questions, issues, and admire the work being completed by the Land Steward.

There are no minimum hours that need to be met as part of this program. Land Stewards work at their own pace. See "Typical Level of Involvement" by clicking on the FAQ button below. 

Many Land Steward resources can be found on the Stewardship & Training Resources webpage. 

If you have a resource to share that you think would be valuable to others, please feel free to send to staff and it can be added to the document library. 

All information related to the Certified Land Steward position can be found in the Natural Areas Volunteer Handbook (PDF). 




If you have questions about becoming a Certified Land Steward, contact:

Lars Higdon
Naturalist / Botanist
(608) 286-9497

Shane Otto
Naturalist / Botanist
(608) 575-0396