Share the Wonders of Nature

Teatown Lake Reservation

A passion for nature and a commitment to environmental education are essential for the many volunteers at Teatown Lake Reservation, a 1,000-acre nature preserve and environmental-education center in Ossining. “We have quite an array of options and projects for volunteers,” says Elissa Schilmeister, environment educator and volunteer coordinator for the nonprofit group. Offerings include Teens in Teatown, a leadership-training and community-service program in which teen volunteers meet weekly and monthly to learn leadership and social skills, and to learn more about natural history through outings at the preserve. Participants complete service projects at the preserve, including caring for animals, clearing trails and serving as docents or greeters for visitors.

Other volunteers serve as nature guides and, though no background in education or science is required, they complete a training-and-observation period before leading student groups. Specially trained volunteers serve as tour guides within the preserve’s Wildflower Island area and help lead its raptor-education program. There are many other opportunities, as well.

Schilmeister says about 100 volunteers  participate as part of a group, while 200 more volunteers help staff the facility’s special events, including the annual Eagle Fest. 

Terry Kardos became a guide at the preserve in 1989 and now  teaches students of her own as a Teatown volunteer at least once
a week.

“It’s very rewarding helping children learn,” she says. “The things I’ve learned at Teatown I can incorporate into classes I’ve taught elsewhere.”

Get Started: Visit or contact Elissa Schilmeister at or 914.762.2912 x120. There are no prerequisites or minimum time commitments; some training may be required for certain positions.

Similar Ops: Try the Greenburgh Nature Center, Rye Nature Center, or Weinberg Nature Center in Scarsdale, as well as support organizations like the Friends of the Rockefeller State Park Preserve.


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