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People of the Preserves: July 2021

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.

Arvind Kakanavaram in the Forest Preserves of Cook County.
Photo by Kris DaPra.

Arvind Kakanavaram

“In elementary school I became aware of how humans have impacted the environment in both positive and negative ways. The negative sort of outweighs the positive. I’ve always been interested in nature and trying to give back. It’s a little bit of compensation for what nature has given us.

I really like working with the other Deer Grove volunteers and feel very comfortable there. I enjoy the exercise and the community is great. Another thing I’m really interested in is technology. I always think about ways to combine my interests, so I reached out and asked if there was anything I could do related to computer science with the Deer Grove group, and they said they could use a new website. The current one is outdated, so I’ve been sitting down in meetings with some of the volunteers and trying to make progress with the site. I want to get it finished before school starts up again in the fall.

Thinking about the rate at which things are going, I don’t know what kind of environment we’ll be left with in the future. Pollution rates are skyrocketing. We’re running out of clean water. There are a lot of issues going on. I do feel like it’s up to young people to fix it because we are a new generation with a lot of potential. If we can use that potential for good and to save the planet, I think that’s great.”

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!