How You Can Help the Great Lakes

We hope you'll join us in celebrating and caring for our magnificent and precious Great Lakes. Read on to learn more about our work to keep the lakes great and how you can get involved too!

  • Help restore local habitats! The Great Lakes are home to more than 3,500 plant and animal species—and 40 million people! So the lakes, rivers, wetlands, dunes, prairies and forests that make up the Great Lakes ecosystem are your home, too. Join our Great Lakes Action Days and give back to the wild places in your backyard.
  • Visit Shedd’s At Home on the Great Lakes exhibit and connect with more than 60 species, from prehistoric sturgeon to invasive sea lamprey.
  • Join our exciting programs and immersive experiences that invite you to explore and restore Great Lakes ecosystems.
  • Follow Shedd’s scientists as they conduct field research that helps inform effective management of native and invasive wildlife.
  • Sign up to receive alerts about Overflow Action Days from our partner, Friends of the Chicago River. You will receive fun and interesting reminders before and during rain events to help you conserve water at home and avoid contributing to sewer overflows that can pollute the Great Lakes.
  • Work with leaders in the Great Lakes community — scientists, educators, government officials, businesspeople, concerned citizens — to forge solutions to tomorrow’s conservation challenges.


From the experts

Susan BartonCut down on packaging at the grocery store; you can buy dry foods from bulk bins and reuse bags when you restock. Consider skipping produce bags: A quick wash at home will clean the food, and a small stash of plastic bags can be reused to keep greens moist in the fridge. Return any surplus plastic bags to the grocery store for recycling.

- Susan Barton, director of facilities maintenance


Christine NyePlant a few native plants on your property to keep our ecosystem more viable. Just having everyone plant a few will support our native insects, which in turn will feed populations of birds raising young here or moving through on migration.

- Christine Nye, manager of horticulture programs


Dr. Bill Van BonnIf you have unwanted or expired prescription or over-the-counter drugs, check if there is a drug take-back program in your community where you can return them. If not, be sure to dispose of them properly by following the EPA’s household disposal steps.

- Dr. Bill Van Bonn, vice president of animal health