People of the Preserves
“I was teaching when I got an email to become part of the Master Naturalist program, and in that program you had to put in volunteer hours, mostly with the Forest Preserves. The first places I volunteered were at Kickapoo and Whistler and I just enjoyed it so much that this is primarily where I volunteer now. I became a Co-Steward at Kickapoo but I still volunteer here at Whistler. With the proximity to the city, I think people are surprised to learn these places are here. They are both beautiful.
“It gives me peace to be out in the woods. My parents are from eastern Tennessee so we got to spend time in the Smoky Mountains. That’s one of the reasons why I enjoy nature. We have a great love of the Smokies so maybe being out here is a way or reliving that time, and having it still be part of my life because we don’t have as much green space in the City. But we’re getting there.
“I’m always encouraging people to come out. I think it’s partly wellness. We always see people in their cars here resting, maybe after a long day at work. We want them to get out of their cars to at least walk around the path and maybe at some point we can get them to come over and do restoration. I guess the bottom line is, if we can get people to understand that they’re benefiting more than even the nature, we can get them to help restore it."
“One day I opened a local paper. There was a little article in there written by Judy Pollock that said something like, ‘If you want to restore a prairie back to its original health meet at this person’s house and get on the team.’ I saw it and thought, ‘Oh my gosh, this is exactly what I want to do. I want to really get my hands dirty.’
“I don’t have this natural background. I don’t have a science background. I have a public relations background. So I’m sitting on the couch [at this meeting] and I’m listening to people and nobody really wants to raise their hand or speak up too much because we’re all still trying to feel this out, and it’s still very new. But I said, ‘Wow, well I don’t know about the science side of this but I sure know that we need energy, and outreach, and PR and I can contribute that.’
Keep reading Pat's story
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