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“Connecting People to Nature Challenge” Brings Increased Investment, Community Engagement

a group of people from the Homewood Science Center's Girls STEAM Success Club at Sauk Trail Woods
Homewood Science Center's Girls STEAM Success Club during a visit to Sauk Trail Woods.

Host Your Next Meeting, Class or Activity in the Forest Preserves

From book clubs and art classes to walking groups and everything in between, the Forest Preserves of Cook County is seeking community organizations near Sauk Trail Woods, Miller Meadow and Caldwell Woods to host their small public gatherings surrounded by nature.

Learn more: tinyurl.com/nature-challenge-cc2022

The Connecting People to Nature Challenge will showcase what the Forest Preserves of Cook County offers, aiming to encourage local residents to connect with nature and local groups to partner with the Forest Preserves.

The Forest Preserves will invest a total of nearly $1 million in the Nature Challenge in 2022 across three diverse Forest Preserves sites:

“With this initiative, we hope those who live and work nearby recognize that each of these preserves is a community asset—literally a natural resource. Everyone benefits from time out in nature. With improvements and deeper local engagement, we want to encourage even more people to come out to enjoy their local preserve,” said Forest Preserves President Toni Preckwinkle.

To make the sites more welcoming, the Forest Preserves will remove invasive brush to open up sightlines and plant new native flowers, as well as install new directional and informational signs at site entrances and along trails.

A community outreach program started in the spring to create a plan for each site with local interests and needs in mind. The goal is to listen to residents, schools, nonprofits, government agencies, block clubs, libraries and other community groups, and build relationships for ongoing programming as well. With information from this community outreach, the Forest Preserves will also increase its own program offerings such as cultural events, environmental education programming or guided hikes.

“For local residents, we want to challenge you to bike, or run, or take a walk on the trail. We challenge you to find your favorite spot, maybe visit it regularly throughout the year and see how it changes with the seasons. We challenge you to come out for one of our events, and bring your family and friends,” said Forest Preserves General Superintendent Arnold Randall. “For local groups, we challenge you to join us in finding new ways to add more and keep improving these sites.”