Nonprofit Highlight: Barrington Area Conservation Trust

Below is Barrington Area Volunteer Connection’s fifth installment of their new profile program, highlighting non-profits using BAVC for their volunteering needs. Keep reading for the profile of Barrington Area Conservation Trust.

Interview with Susan Lenz – Executive Director of Conservation | Barrington Area Conservation Trust

What do you feel is the most important benefit your organization provides to the community? Or what do you feel is the best thing about your organization?
Barrington Area Conservation Trust’s (BACT) mission is to preserve our community’s rare and exceptional open spaces for current and future generations.  What makes our area special is the wide open and undeveloped natural spaces that still exist.  BACT has protected over 520 acres through 5 nature preserves that we own as well as 27 conservation easements on private landowner property.  These easements protect the land in perpetuity.  Additionally, as a conservation land trust, we work to educate our future environmental stewards and provide resources for community members.

Are there any new programs or new initiatives you will be implementing for 2021?

We are gearing up for our annual Earth Day event at Pederson Preserve.  Because of its proximity to Barrington High School and the community, it is the perfect spot to host a day filled with restoration and environmental education opportunities for students and volunteers. As an extension of BACT’s  Conservation@School program, throughout the day Barrington High School science classes will visit the preserve to learn about a variety of citizen science topics.  Our Conservation@School facilitator, Raaz Basati will utilize BAC’s Citizen Science packs which were created through grant funding from the Barrington Area Community Foundation.  These packs include tools to aid in the scientific study of soil, water, plants, and animals.   Each pack helps to direct students in activities that will draw attention to the plants and wildlife around them and the patterns that represent the health of the environment.

From 3:30 – 5:30 on April 22nd, rain date April 29th, we will host planting and other restoration work as part of our Earth Day celebration which is open to everyone in the community.  Visit to register! 

What advice or tips do you have for Volunteers?

  • Try a variety of different opportunities as you never know what might spark further interest.
  • We have had students volunteer in order to earn service hours, and they have gained so much more — A love of the outdoors and further interest in pursuing our summer internship or other future educational opportunities in the conservation world.
  • Before coming to a volunteer event, volunteers should review the list of instructions provided by the organization, such as what to wear and where to park. They will be safe and enjoy themselves more when they take to time to prepare.
  • Volunteers also should be ready to adjust to changes. Whether more bags of food are dropped off at the food pantry than expected or weather conditions change the plan for a conservation work day, volunteers may be forced to adapt. Organizers will appreciate the volunteers’ positive attitude.


What advice for non-profits?

  • Create a welcoming environment, making sure to touch base personally with each individual often throughout the volunteer experience especially when they first start volunteering with you.
  • Let volunteers know the purpose of why they are there and how much they are making a difference with your organization. Thank them early and often!
  • Provide important aspects about your volunteer job in advance to allow students or adults to decide if it is the right thing for them. Of course, some volunteers might not read all the details, but helping them prepare will make for a more successful event.


Can you share your favorite volunteer moment or story?

I am a true believer in the power of nature.  Throughout my career, I have witnessed firsthand nature’s benefits.  Some of my favorite stories are those “ah-ha” moments.  These include: High school students who participated in one of our workdays because they needed volunteer hours but end up coming back time and time again because they truly enjoy it.  Adults and students of all ages who during COVID volunteered and found peace and normalcy amid nature.

Can you share any examples of where BAVC has been able to help you with volunteers?

The Barrington Area community is truly a special place with so many wonderful non-profit organizations.  BAVC provides that special connection so that volunteers can easily discover different organizations where they can share their passion, time, and talents.


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