Three events on Sept. 24 hosted at ‘Connecting People to Nature Challenge’ sites
September 19, 2022 — In honor of National Public Lands Day, the Forest Preserves of Cook County is encouraging residents to enjoy the outdoors at its Party for the Preserves, with family-friendly events from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 24.
The parties will be at three Forest Preserves sites that are the focus of its “Connecting People to Nature Challenge” initiative: Sauk Trail Woods, Caldwell Woods/Bunker Hill and Miller Meadow. Cook County Board and Forest Preserves of Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle will attend the party at Bunker Hill, starting at 1 p.m.
“On National Public Lands Day, we’re challenging all our residents to continue spending time outdoors this fall,” said President Preckwinkle. “We’re also challenging ourselves to encourage even more people and community groups to take advantage of the natural beauty of Cook County. The Preserves are for everyone – all year long.”
Visitors at Party for the Preserves at the sites can enjoy walks with naturalists to learn about wildlife and trees, give-aways of milkweed and seedlings, live music, snacks, archery lessons, group yoga and much more (see full list by location, below).
In addition, to restoration work, new signage and other improvements at each Nature Challenge site, the Forest Preserves is inviting community and nonprofit groups to host their events at these locations. Local groups interested in planning an event at one of the Connecting People to Nature Challenge sites can let the Forest Preserves know by completing a survey at bit.ly/fpcc-challenge.
One group that will be on hand at Sauk Trail Woods during the Party for the Preserves Saturday is Light of Loving Kindness, a holistic-health nonprofit that has been holding events in the Forest Preserves for two years. Founder and Executive Director Cassandra Powell says the Forest Preserves are the perfect place for a mediation event.
“Whatever it is you are doing to calm yourself, nature helps with that,” Powell says. “People don’t realize the benefits of being in nature. Kids say, ’This felt so calm.’ I hear that, again and again and again…. The Forest Preserves have been wonderful—it’s such a beautiful partnership.”
The Connecting People to Nature Challenge is a pilot program to test community engagement strategies that work and can eventually be applied elsewhere in the Forest Preserves as well, says Jacqui Ulrich, director of Conservation and Experiential Programming at the Forest Preserves. “We have lots of work ahead, but what better way to celebrate our first six months of success and kick off the work ahead than with a party?”
Party for the Preserves Featured Events
Bunker Hill-Grove 1, W Harts Rd, southwest of W Touhy Ave. in Chicago.
Carve a hiking stick, participate in group yoga or take a multilingual walk during Party for the Preserves at Bunker Hill, spanning the North Side of Chicago and the northern suburbs. Forest Preserves Police will be giving away bike helmets.
Other activities include nature journaling, wildlife and tree ID walks, and music from Bach to Rock. In addition to Bach to Rock, local partners include Bloom Yoga Studio and Girl Forward.
Miller Meadow-South, 1st Ave, south of Roosevelt Rd. in Maywood.
Party for the Preserves at Miller Meadow brings an array of activities for all ages to Maywood. Presented in partnership with the Loyola Center for Fitness, family-friendly activities with community partners, music, guided walks, milkweed and seedling giveaways, and chances to meet both a Forest Preserves Police K9 officer and an animal from Brookfield Zoo.
Onsite food will be available from the Loyola Fitness Cafe and the first 300 attendees will receive a free cookie. Local partners include Palos R/C Flying Club, West Cook Wild Ones and Proviso Partners for Health.
Sauk Trail Woods
Schubert’s Woods entrance of Sauk Trail Woods, west of Ashland Avenue in South Chicago Heights.
From archery to Zumba, visitors can participate in activities for the whole family during Party for the Preserves at Sauk Trail Woods. Forest Preserves staff will coordinate bike helmet giveaways and a touch-a-truck activity for kids. Snacks will be offered free.
Want to help feed a butterfly? Native milkweed plants are a natural food that support monarch butterflies whose annual migration to Mexico just passed through the area. The Forest Preserves will give away native milkweed plants during the event on a first-come, first-serve basis while supplies last.
Partners from Light of Loving Kindness and Indiana Dunes National Park will be on hand for demonstrations and activities. Music and spoken-word entertainment are planned, as well.
About the Forest Preserves of Cook County
Don’t you sometimes just want to escape? Explore the natural beauty of Cook County for an hour, a day or even a night. When you’re surrounded by 70,000 acres of wild and wonderful there’s no better place to feel free.