« All News

Volunteer Newsletter: Volunteer Impact of our Community Science Partners

Halloween pennant dragonfly at Wampum Lake. Photo by Jim Phillips.
Halloween pennant dragonfly at Wampum Lake. Photo by Jim Phillips.

The Volunteer Resources team would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the hard work and dedication of our partner community science organizations and all of the volunteer community scientists on the ground in the Forest Preserves of Cook County and beyond.

The Bird Conservation Network, the Calling Frog Survey, the Illinois Butterfly Monitoring Network, the Illinois Odonate Survey, and the Plants of Concern have collected data important to overall status and population trends of a wide range of critters and plants. It is important that Forest Preserves ecologists and Ecological Stewardship volunteers have access to this data when making comprehensive land management decisions. Collaboration on conservation initiatives to document and create an awareness of threatened, endangered and rare species in our Preserves go hand in hand with larger scale efforts in ecological restoration.

As we look to the New Year, it is equally important to recognize the impact that our volunteer “superheroes” have made through the years. The following statements have been submitted by dedicated volunteer community scientists, Stanley Stec and Clifford Trahan.

My name is Stanley Stec and I have been a bird monitor at Paul Douglas Forest Preserve for 16 years working with the Bird Conservation Network (BCN).  

Paul Douglas has been recognized as having the habitat needed by endangered field nesting species. The nesting areas have been expanded by extensive brush cutting and mowing. The marsh has been improved by a low dam built near Central Road, which stabilized water levels from Poplar Creek. This is for the benefit of water fowl, herons, cranes and all birds using the marsh. Nest poles and platforms have been installed and are used to capacity by great blue herons.

The preserve is used extensively by birders, bird clubs and by people who just like to observe birds in a natural environment. With good management, this will continue for the next 100 years.

Stanley Stec, Monitor
Bird Conservation Network
Paul Douglas Preserve
Hoffman Estates, Cook County

My name is Clifford Trahan and I monitor butterflies for the Illinois Butterfly Monitoring Network and dragonflies/damselflies for the Illinois Odonate Survey. I monitor dragonflies at the Carl Hansen Forest Preserve and Schaumburg Road Grasslands sites. I currently monitor butterflies at Carl Hansen Woods, but in the past I also monitored at the S. Grasslands (Poplar Creek southern site). I have been monitoring for 8 years.

Carl Hansen Forest Preserve consists of prairie, including a remnant rare gravel hill prairie and an Oak-Hickory woodland. The site hosts a number of ephemeral ponds (and one permanent one) and the Poplar Creek stream courses around the edges of the site. The Schaumburg Road Grasslands consists of prairie, shrublands and woodlands. It has a number of ponds, and the Poplar Creek stream marks the western boundary of the site.

Carl Hansen Forest Preserve is home to hairstreaks, fritillaries and several Polygonia species, to name a few. The most unusual dragonfly I’ve encountered, so far, is the Lance-tipped Darner. Occasionally, I am lucky to see the Wandering Glider streak across the prairie. The Poplar Creek stream is a great warehouse of dragonflies and damselflies. It never fails to thrill me and fill me with wonderment watching hundreds of Ebony Jewelwings fluttering about and dazzling me with beautiful colors.

Clifford Trahan, Monitor
Illinois Butterfly Monitoring Network and Illinois Odonate Survey
Carl R. Hansen Woods and Schaumburg Road Grasslands
Hoffman Estates and Streamwood, Cook County

Are you inspired to join over 200 inspirational individuals out in the field monitoring birds, butterflies, frogs, dragonflies, and plants of concern in the Forest Preserves of Cook County? Join one of our Community Science programs.