In nature, expressions of love run the gamut
As Valentine’s Day approaches, we naturally turn to the topic of love. But it’s not just humans that pair up, split up, and make up. All year long, the animals and plants of our forest preserves are leading love lives as varied and complicated as anything in the human world.
The most common strategy for survival in the wild, it turns out, is mating opportunistically. That’s right: in the animal and plant kingdoms, it’s the cheaters, players and philanderers that dominate. A few local examples include skunks, opossums, raccoons and white-tailed deer.
By Forest Preserve District of Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle --
When I was elected President of the Forest Preserve District of Cook County two years ago, I charged General Superintendent Arnold Randall with developing a plan to get more young people out into our preserves, to explore ideas, like camping, that can serve as an entry point to introduce children to the natural world.
Many people, myself included, have fond memories of sleeping outdoors, hearing the sounds of nature at night and being with their family in a new, quiet setting, away from chores and work.
My students and I first went to Deer Grove Forest Preserve for a habitat restoration workday in March 2011 as part of a unit on biodiversity. I knew that it was going to be a good day when one of my students walked off the bus and exclaimed, “I want to live here!” as she took in the forest that surrounded her. We walked from the bus and into a circle where the steward, Pete Jackson, introduced us to the site. When we walked through the woods and arrived at the site that we would work at that day, Pete and all of his volunteers immediately opened their arms to our students. They helped them figure out how to best use the tools, directed them to locations that would be good to work, and answered questions while at the same time giving them the space to enjoy the outdoors on their own. That day as I watched my students, I saw them engaged in a way that I had never seen before, and I knew that this had to become a part of our regular experience at Uplift Community High School.
by Forest Preserve District President Toni Preckwinkle
Just a few days ago, many of us made New Year’s resolutions. Very often, we choose resolutions that address something fundamental and ambitious—to get healthy, work harder, be nicer. But we can predict the fate of all too many of these resolutions. More than a few optimistic revelers will set a lofty goal—only to lose their way somewhere around February.
Though the name “Gully Walkers” vaguely suggests a band of restless apparitions or the title of a Disney movie, it’s really Friends of the Chicago River’s newest volunteer opportunity, and a unique way to care for the forest preserves and the Chicago River at the same time.
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