Kayak for Conservation

Paddle the Chicago River and monitor wildlife with Shedd conservation experts!

Read the program FAQ

Check back soon for more dates!

In our Kayak for Conservation program, we invite you to hop in a kayak, paddle along the North Branch Canal of the Chicago River and visit Shedd’s River Island, a new, uniquely designed floating habitat. Along the way, you will learn about the Chicago River ecosystem, discover the native flora and fauna above and below the water’s surface and learn how this habitat is benefiting native wildlife.

Participants will also conduct activities to steward and study Shedd’s River Island. They will pull invasive plants, remove litter and serve as citizen scientists to contribute to Shedd Aquarium’s biodiversity survey with activities including:

  • Monitoring presence of wildlife, including turtles, invertebrates, waterfowl and others
  • Recording plant location and development stage
  • Documenting weather patterns

Join us this summer to help restore and protect the Chicago River!

See all of Shedd's summer nature programs here.

More about this project

The Chicago River is home to more than 70 native fish species and provides food and resources to many species of birds, reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates. This ecosystem has the potential to support even greater biodiversity, but a team effort is needed to restore aquatic habitat and improve the river’s health. That is why Shedd Aquarium is teaming up with Urban Rivers, a local not-for-profit organization, to install and nurture a floating habitat in the North Branch Canal of the Chicago River. The habitat features more than 15 aquatic, wetland and terrestrial plant species to provide food and shelter to local wildlife. It covers over 260 square feet of the Chicago River near Goose Island, a fascinating destination for viewing the Chicago skyline to the south and connecting with the urban river ecosystem surrounding you.

Dates and locations

Check back soon for more information!

Age and requirements

The Kayak for Conservation program is geared toward adults with an interest in kayaking and science. Participants must be 12 or older and comfortable operating a kayak independently. Participants under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

What do I need to bring?

Instructions will be sent to you after you sign up for Kayak for Conservation. Shedd supplies kayaks, materials and tools for each activity at the site. Participants are encouraged to bring reusable water bottles and sunscreen, and wear weather-appropriate outdoor clothing and shoes. You will be notified in advance if additional items are needed.

What else should I know?

All events are weather dependent.

Participants are responsible for their own transportation to the site. Shedd encourages carpooling or taking public transportation where possible.

Each participant will have to sign supplied waivers to participate in Kayak for Conservation.

At this time, we do not have opportunities for corporate groups to join Kayak for Conservation. If you are looking for other corporate volunteer opportunity, such as our Great Lakes Action Days program, please contact Shedd's Corporate Partnerships team at CorporateRelations@sheddaquarium.org. Please note that due to limited capacity, corporate group GLAD opportunities are reserved for Shedd’s current corporate partners. Please contact our team to discuss the minimum level of support required to participate.

Contact Us

Questions? Email us at kayak@sheddaquarium.org