People of the Preserves
JUAN CRUZ & ISABEL JARO
Juan: Mr. Billington, the Site Steward here at Bemis Woods, is also our professor. He likes to promote the volunteer work in the Preserves. It’s a good way to get some extra credit or just a few more points if you didn’t do too well on a test.
Isabel: It’s also very, very helpful, not just for the class but for the environment. I'm happy to help out, even if it’s not for extra credit. I live in North Riverside so I’m nearby the forest but I’ve never actually been to Bemis Woods.
Juan: Yeah, I never knew this was going on in Cook County and I have lived here all my life. I didn’t know there were invasive species like Buckthorn in the forest preserves before today. It’s good to give back. Even if you’re not a big nature person. We had a productive morning and it’s pretty chill out here with the fire. I actually feel like sitting down and just watching it now.
"During my first ever stewardship workday at Orland Grassland, we were pulling White Sweet Clover. Pat Hayes always has something fun going on, and on this particular day she was giving a prize for whoever pulled out the longest root. The prize was a specialty root beer, and I won!
"I have no idea where my love of nature comes from to be honest, but it grows upon itself. When you walk away after a workday with a sense of calm, it’s like, why wouldn’t you come back? Nature’s just got so much to offer. And there is a sense of mission here. We’re getting the grassland back to the way it used to be. Pat always talks about that and it’s great to be a part of that restoration effort."
Did you enjoy meeting these volunteers? Take a look back at the folks we've featured in People of the Preserves by visiting the Volunteer News page on our website. Please note, these interviews were conducted long before the COVID-19 pandemic.