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People of the Preserves: October 2020

The Forest Preserves boasts a large network of volunteers doing incredible work all across the County like restoring habitatmonitoring plant and animal populationspatrolling our trails, supporting special events and so much more. Though many volunteers fly solo, like Trail Watch volunteers, or work in small groups, like stewardship volunteers, each individual belongs to this larger, like-minded community of people who love nature and care for the Preserves.

Please note that these interviews were conducted in 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lily, Amna and Shuli volunteering in the forest preserves
Photo by Kris DaPra.

Lily, Shuli & Amna

Lily: “We all came here for a school project but I’m actually really enjoying restoration work and would definitely come again. It’s just a great opportunity and I think other people should just go for it. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to do it again, but if you do, you can keep coming back to volunteer. Come into it with a positive attitude because if you come in with a bad attitude, you’re probably going to have a bad time.”  

Amna: “This seems harder at first than it actually is. We had the choice to either work on fencing or collect seeds and we chose the fencing. It’s fun if you do a task you enjoy. In the beginning I thought ‘Oh man, three hours? I don’t know if I’m going to last!’, but honestly time passes by so quickly.” 

Shuli: “Also, it’s so pretty out here right now and we wouldn’t even realize it if we were on our phones.”  

Carl Schnakenberg volunteering in the forest preserves
Photo by Kris DaPra.

Carl Schnakenberg  

“I have a family business that my sons are running now so I have the flexibility to pursue volunteering, plus I live literally across the street from a forest preserve. I started out just doing some cutting and then I got more engaged so I did the workday training, burn boss training, and chainsaw training. I’m getting closer to being a certified workday leader

“Volunteering is absolutely fulfilling. It’s good for your soul. It’s good for your head. It really helps my frame of mind. I come out of the woods after a workday feeling optimistic. I can sit and watch TV or I can put my Fitbit on and come out to the woods where I get 15,000 steps and 240 active minutes during a typical workday. I can go to the gym and walk on a treadmill or I can come out and do this. I choose to do this and I love it.”  

Inspired by the photo blog Humans of New York, Kris DaPra and Joanna Huyck of the Volunteer Resources team will be working together to introduce you to your fellow volunteers. You’ll get to know the names and faces of the people (like you) without whom the preserves could simply not exist. We hope that you’ll enjoy this ongoing project, and we look forward to interviewing YOU at an upcoming workday, on your monitoring route, during your Trail Watch patrol or anywhere else you make a difference. Thank you for being a volunteer!