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The Forest Way
Forest Preserves of Cook County Newsletter

May 2023

A purple wild geranium flower covered in dew
Wild Geranium (Geranium maculatum), Photo by: Fidencio Marbella 
Ranging in colors from light pink to lavender, wild geranium is a showy woodland spring wildflower that typically blooms in May and June.

In this Issue:

  • Spring Bird Migration Means Birding Opportunities Abound in the Forest Preserves
  • Nature Express Bus Provides Free Rides to Nature
  • Enjoy Benefits of Nature during Mental Health Awareness Month
  • Latest News: Watch Latest Wild & Wonderful Episode, Tune in for Free Sustainability Lunch & Learn Webinar, Forest Preserve Foundation Board Visits River Trail Nature Center, Save the Date for Annual Daley Plaza Take Over
  • Upcoming Events
  • Volunteer Opportunities
A group of birders at Penny Road Pond

Spring Bird Migration Means Birding Opportunities Abound in the Forest Preserves

Each year, hundreds of different bird species travel along the Mississippi Flyway—a route connecting Canada and the United States to locations in Mexico, Central and South America—for spring and fall migration. During these times, nearly 300 species of birds rely on the healthy habitats found in the Forest Preserves of Cook County to provide them with needed food and shelter while en route. These are amazing times of the year to get out and go birding.

Whether you’re a birding enthusiast or beginner, bird watching can be enjoyed in numerous of ways: while exploring local woodlands, savannas, prairies and wetlands; while visiting any of the Forest Preserves’ six nature centers; while walking or hiking along more than 350 miles of trails; or while canoeing or kayaking along major local waterways.

Learn More
A group from Lost Boyz, Inc. at Dan Ryan Woods

Nature Express Bus Provides Free Rides to Nature

As soon as LaVonte Stewart starts talking to the young people in Lost Boyz Inc. about upcoming outings to the Forest Preserves of Cook County, he sees the excitement on the faces of the boys and girls served by his nonprofit group.
“Getting out of their neighborhood to do something is encouraging to them, being outside of their comfort zone and seeing that Chicago is a huge city and that you can have all this green space inside of an urban jungle,” says Stewart, the founder and executive director of Lost Boyz Inc. “You can find all this serenity and these spaces for peace.”
Lost Boyz Inc. provides sports-based development for youth from South Shore, Pilsen and other under-resourced neighborhoods in Chicago, as well as opportunities for civic engagement and recreation. The Forest Preserves Nature Express Bus program has become a valuable resource to this small organization.

Read More
A group of people doing yoga

Enjoy Benefits of Nature During Mental Health Awareness Month

As the season changes, so do our natural surroundings. Spring’s rains shower the flora of the Forest Preserves. The sun shines longer, and as the trees absorb its sunlight, they begin to regrow their leaves. Ephemeral wildflowers begin to bloom. Animals may be spotted while they transition from hibernation to awakening. This is the season of “renewal.” 
For some, the idea of “renewal” can signify having a clean slate to approach life with a positive outlook, letting go of and releasing stress to allow new things to enter your life. With May recognized as Mental Health Awareness Month, consider how you can enjoy time outdoors to improve mental and physical wellness. 

Read More

Latest News 

Watch Newest Wild & Wonderful Episode to Learn Signs of Spring

How can you see, hear, feel, smell and even taste springtime in the Forest Preserves of Cook County? Join us at Camp Bullfrog Lake—one of five campgrounds in the Forest Preserves—to learn how you can use all your senses to experience signs of the season in this episode of Wild & Wonderful!
Watch the Episode

Free Sustainability Lunch &  Learn Webinar

Join us for a free Sustainability Lunch & Learn webinar on Thursday, May 25 to explore the causes of flooding at your home. Our partners at Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago will help attendees identify areas of concern inside & outside the home, as well as provide tips on reducing residential flooding & sewer backups. 
Register for Webinar

Forest Preserve Foundation Board of Directors Visits River Trail Nature Center, a Site of Foundation Funding

Warm sun, wildflowers, and the lilting songs of birds greeted the Forest Preserve Foundation Board of Directors as they arrived at River Trail Nature Center for their May board meeting. Before getting down to business, board members received a tour guided by interpretive naturalist Brian Winters, who highlighted work done by Chicago Conservation Leadership Corps (CCLC) crews. CCLC is a partnership program coordinated by the Student Conservation Association, Friends of the Forest Preserves and the Forest Preserves of Cook County, with generous support from the Forest Preserve Foundation and others. This five-week paid summer program engages youth in hands-on conservation work and education experiences. The Foundation has provided funding to the CCLC program since 2015. Nurturing the next generation of environmental advocates through programs like CCLC is a key priority of the Foundation. 
Read More

Save the Date: Live Healthy, Discover Nature Daley Plaza Take Over is June 6

The Forest Preserves of Cook County is taking over Daley Plaza! Visit us from 10 am to 2 pm on Tuesday, June 6, for Live Healthy, Discover Nature: a celebration of all things Forest Preserves. Attendees can learn about the many of ways to explore nature while enjoying raffles and a variety of activities, watching cultural dance performances, as well as checking out booths for partners.
Learn More
Youth look at bird artifacts

Upcoming Events

Join our naturalists for fun, educational offerings in person and via Zoom! Learn about spring bird migration; create art inspired by nature; or join guided fitness hikes, wellness programs, wildflower walks, nature play dates and more. Check out our online events calendar for a full schedule.

View the Schedule
A man birding at Bartel Grassland

Volunteer Opportunities: Join the Bird Conservation Network

Love birding? Interested in becoming a community scientist? Consider joining the Bird Conservation Network and help monitor Chicagoland's breeding birds! Becoming a BCN Survey monitor is one of the best ways that you can make a valuable contribution to birds in your area. 

Get Involved
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