“Nature is loved by what is best in us."
–Ralph Waldo Emerson
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Yellow pollen clings to the long and sticky hairs of the pollinator’s body, facilitating transfer from one flower to another. Photo by Kris DaPra

Correction: Last month's top photo was of an Ovenbird, not a Swainson's Thrush as identified in the caption. 

June 2020


People of the Preserves 


"I frequently walk in Busse Woods, and one day I saw a sign along the path for Trail Watch. Joining was sort of a no-brainer. I very much consider myself a nature lover. I find peace from being outside and try to be outside as much as possible for relaxation or exercise. I’ve been retired now for over a year, so I can go to the preserves every day, weather permitting.

"There are so many interesting things to see—the leaves changing in the fall, different birds, and the water. Just last month I saw a swan on Busse Lake and it knocked my socks off. It was my first time seeing one outside of a corporate campus. Schaumburg’s Sculpture Park has swans and I had been waiting for the cygnets to be born. I was enthralled with them, so coming to Busse and seeing a swan swimming around was exciting!  

"I think of volunteering as giving back. I’m fortunate to be able to enjoy these places that require some level of maintenance. The forest preserves are free and I’m out walking all the time anyway, so being the extra set of eyes feels like the least I can do for the enjoyment that I get from being out there. Volunteering in the preserves is fun. It’s beautiful. You’re communing with Mother Nature and she’s always changing. You can come to the same place and see something different day to day let alone season to season." 


"I’m half Eastern Shoshone. My mother and grandmother were full-blooded. On my dad’s side, his whole family in Norway were Sámi people, best known for reindeer herding. Because of my native heritage, I look at nature a little differently.  

"I joined Trail Watch because I thought it was a good way to give back. Trail Watch volunteers are the eyes and ears in the preserves. We help protect our natural areas by being a deterrent. People see us in our bright shirts and maybe they think twice about doing something wrong. I walk the paved trail first, and then I’ll walk the interior trails where folks go when they don’t want you to see them unleash their dogs. I check the bathrooms before I leave to make sure everything’s ok. Sometimes people just come up and thank me for being out here. I get a lot of smiles, or people just asking for directions.

"There are times when there are lulls. It’s quiet and there’s not much going on. If I’m someplace where there’s a body of water, I like to be close to it because water is sacred. I’ll take that time to relax at a picnic table and think about things that are important to me, and just give my respect back to the land."


In honor of National Trails Day which is the first Saturday in June, we put the spotlight on Trail Watch volunteers this month. Did you enjoy meeting them? Take a look back at other volunteers we've featured in People of the Preserves by visiting the Volunteer News page on our website. 


Reading the Landscape 
Interpret the landscape by looking at historical records, land use, climate, soil, and vegetation clues. This class is best for experienced stewardship volunteers with 15 hours of recorded service.
Sign Up
Who’s Afraid of the Dichotomous Key?
Plant ID can be daunting, but our webinar on recommended tactics to identify plants can help! Instruction includes an intro to dichotomous, color, and other useful keys.
Sign Up
Singing Insects Monitoring Program Webinar
7/9, 7/11
Learn the monitoring protocol of the Singing Insects Monitoring Project and how to record songs with your smartphone or a digital recorder.

Sign Up
See All Volunteer Enrichment & Training


Now through 8/9
Enjoy a new virtual art exhibition titled Fresh Air, developed in partnership with Project Onward, the Forest Preserves of Cook County, and Brushwood Center at Ryerson Woods. Artists from Project Onward, a studio space and program for artists with disabilities, created pieces for the exhibition inspired by their experiences with nature which included field trips to the Forest Preserves’ Trailside Museum of Natural History and Brushwood Center at Ryerson Woods. Fresh Air captures the human yearning for connection to the outside, after months of shelter-in-place in Illinois and around the country. All artwork is for sale and proceeds go directly to the artists and Project Onward.

Tuesday 7/7
During this pandemic, the Chicago Wilderness Congress moved online to keep everyone safe while still providing access to the latest thinking about the region's most pressing conservation issues. Congress resumes on July 7th from 1pm-3pm, covering the topics of land acquisition in southeastern Cook County, and how diverse organization in the Chicago region can work together to create opportunities for children to learn and grow in nature. Sessions are free but advance registration is required.
Share your story!
Whether it's an inspiring photo or a tale 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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