We're all in this together...
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Can't we all use a little cheering up? Kris DaPra's Flickr photo album of spring wildflowers (like these Dutchman's Breeches) in the Forest Preserves of Cook County is sure to put a smile on your face. Which spring wildflower do you look forward to seeing most?

March 2020


A Note from Your Friends in Volunteer Resources 


During this difficult time, we’re all having to adjust to a new “normal”, even if it's temporary. We realize that many of you miss the camaraderie and sense of purpose that you’ve found while volunteering for the Forest Preserves of Cook County. Supporting all of you and your volunteer efforts gives us purpose, too. Though our team, like many, is working from home, rest assured the lines of communication are open! Please reach out to your Program Coordinator with any questions or concerns or even just to say "hello". We are here for you!  

Remember, you can find the most up-to-date information concerning the FPCC's response to the pandemic, including site closures, on our website

People of the Preserves


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. 

And Now, a Poem...

Volunteers at Theodore "Ted" Stone Woods in Hodgkins, IL have made it a point for nearly two decades to have an annual gathering to celebrate their collective accomplishments in ecological stewardship. They call it "Teddy Palooza". Site Steward, George Birmingham says, "This is when Ted Stone shows the love to all the faithful (and some not so faithful) volunteers by gathering at Salerno's Restaurant to feast and frolic in celebration of all the past year's accomplishments".
This year, The Windy City Wordsmith was in attendance to crank out poems about all of the volunteers. Here is a sampling:


After a day of fighting
phragmites or buckthorn
We gather together
Dirty clothes torn

But look what awaits us
Our hearts jump and sing
Is that a cake topped with
Homemade whipped cream?

We dream all day
of your competent baking
Seconds of dessert
I will be taking

It's the love that you show
Through cakes, brownies, pies,
That get us through rough days
Of smoke and ash in our eyes

Thank you to Julie,
We love what you do.
I'm eyeing those cookies
Is it alright to have two?



Land restoration is no easy chore
In the winter's sub-freezing
You're chilled to the core

But summer's not nicer
For the heat and thick air
And fire breath blowing
Like some dragon's lair

But Mat's enthusiasm
Seems never to wane
Even if we're not wise enough to
Come in out of the rain

He's hard working
and skilled from his head to his toes
Clearing Canadian thistle
Or that multiflora rose

A warm welcome to Mat
We're thankful for you
Three hip-hip-hoorays
From the Teddy Stone crew


The Quarantine Corner 

Stay connected to nature even during this time of social distancing and sheltering in place. We'd love to hear from you. How are you utilizing the forest preserves? What resources have you discovered to brush up on your bird or plant ID? Do you have any nature book or film recommendations? Your suggestions might be helpful to others. We've got a few suggestions you might like, too!

Even though the One Earth Film Festival had to cancel many screenings due to COVID-19 concerns, you can see the list of films that were part of the celebration, some of which are available on various streaming platforms. Once film that you can watch for free on YouTube right now is How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate Can't Change


Put yourself to the test! Chris Helzer, Director of Science for the Nature Conservancy in Nebraska, is putting together a quiz about bugs and plants of the prairie. The answers are at the bottom of the page once you complete the quiz, so you'll be able to see how well you did. 

Photo by Lisa Culp Musgrave

Where's Aldo?

Think you can identify a forest preserve site just from one photo? Join our volunteer Facebook group and travel the County with the father of Conservation, Aldo Leopold. Aldo will be checking out sites in every corner of the County in search of hidden gems and interesting landmarks. Follow along on his adventures and see if you can guess where he's been. The first person to submit the correct guess wins a prize package containing bragging rights, virtual elbow bumps, and a digital high five!
Share you volunteer experience!
Whether it's an inspiring photo or a story from the field, we want to hear from you.
We just might include it in a future Volunteer Ecosystem.
E-mail us! 


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