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People of the Preserves: November 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.

Hailey and Chantal volunteering in the Forest Preserves of Cook County
Photo by Kris DaPra.

Hailey & Chantal

Hailey: I’m doing this for a school volunteer project. My teacher gave us a list of places to volunteer and the forest preserves was one of the options. I chose this site because I wanted to do something in a forest rather than a beach or along a river, because I just feel like forests are the most torn down and I wanted to help. 

Chantal: I came here to help Hailey. We’re collecting rye seeds today. My advice to people is to bring gloves and hand lotion! 

George Birmingham volunteering in the Forest Preserves of Cook County
Photo by Kris DaPra.

George Westlund

“I don’t think we would have a workday every Friday and once a month on Saturday if this was just about the plants. Really, you meet great people and it’s sort of become a community. I enjoy the variety of school groups that come out. All kinds. I just connected with a student from my wife’s fourth grade class, now grown with a family of her own. I just serendipitously met her here and she said she wanted her children to have this same experience. We have a grade school from Lakeview that has come out for the last five or six years. We’re also working with students from Little Village. But my favorite group is a special education school that comes out. My regular crew is so experienced. They work efficiently and within 15 minutes they can do something that might take one of these other groups three hours to accomplish, but we just enjoy the people coming out here. 

“We’re working in places now that my wife and I never thought we’d be working in. We’ve accomplished so much and it’s getting harder and harder to find an area within our site where you can easily bring a group of school children, so we’ve been running work crews across the street at Sundown Meadow. There’s lots to do and lots of places to do it. I’ll definitely be here forever.” 

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!