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The Forest Way
Forest Preserves of Cook County Newsletter

June 2022

Dogbane beetle (Chrysochus auratus), Photo by: Maria Sacha
The dogbane beetle completes its entire lifecycle on the leaves and roots of plants in the dogbane family (Apocynaceae).

In this Issue:

  • Training Programs Prepare Group Leaders for Nature Adventures
  • Learn About Self-Love, Resiliency During Summer Wellness Series
  • Thanks to the Data Bike, Targeted Trail Improvements Begin This Summer
  • Latest News: Experience Camping in the Forest Preserves, Crabtree Nature Center Building Closed July 1 Through Spring 2023, Forest Preserve Foundation Awards $130,000 in Grants, Share Feedback for the Des Plaines River Trail Central Study
  • Upcoming Events
  • Volunteer Opportunities
A group of Opportunity Knocks participant in the Forest Preserves

Training Programs Prepare Group Leaders for Nature Adventures

On its own, planning a nature excursion can seem daunting. How do you determine the best route for a hike or paddling trip? What gear is needed for camping? How do you prepare for contingencies? Now imagine planning an outing for a group of youth.

Fortunately, the Forest Preserves of Cook County offers a series of free or low-cost training programs that empower individuals to successfully lead trips into nature with a group: Camping Leadership Immersion Course (CLIC)Day Hiking Leadership Training, and the Greater Maywood Paddling Program.

“We have already been doing [outings in nature] when we found out about these programs. But we are not experts on the Forest Preserves. So, the trainings allowed us to do [our trips] better, to know how to facilitate proper trips into nature, and to utilize the gear library,” explains Kim Meares-Surprenant, program director with Opportunity Knocks (OK), a nonprofit based in River Forest that strives to provide new and exciting educational opportunities for young people—called Warriors—who have intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Read more
A group of youth join a wellness program at Beaubien Woods

Learn About Self-Love, Resiliency During Summer Wellness Series

“Nature is everything,” Cassandra Powell, founder of Light of Loving Kindness (LOLK), exclaims when discussing why a series like the Self-Love Bootcamp works well in a natural setting.

“Nature just lends itself so well to learning about self-love. Our practitioners this summer are going to be making this correlation between mindfulness-based modalities and how nature teaches us about relationships and resiliency, compassion and kindness,” shares Powell.

Throughout the summer, LOLK is leading “Self-Love Bootcamp: Finding Myself in Nature,” a series of six programs based on one of their fundamental offerings: the Self-Love Bootcamp. Participants will use nature to explore mindfulness-based interventions that help guide them through self-reflection, social emotional learning, mental wellness and more. By engaging young adults and high school students, Powell hopes the LOLK programs provide support while teaching about self-love and improving resiliency.

Learn more
Three bikers ride along a trail

Thanks to the Data Bike, Targeted Trail Improvements Begin This Summer

Equipped with multiple cameras affixed to a pole towering above the rider, the Forest Preserves of Cook County’s Data Bike traversed every single mile of paved trail—twice—in both 2020 and 2021. The goal: better direct capital investment and aid long-term planning by using site-specific information.

The Data Bike—an electric bike embellished with a 360-degree camera, a rear-facing camera, and a smartphone loaded with a data collection app—is part of the Preserves’ Trail System Inventory and Evaluation program.

Read more

Latest News 

Experience Camping in the Forest Preserves of Cook County

Looking to spend a night under the stars? Consider camping in the Forest Preserves! In addition to a variety of accommodations at five campgrounds throughout the county, registered campers can enjoy guided programming on Saturdays and some Sundays at most campgrounds through Labor Day. Never been camping? Check out Camping 101, our series of free workshops covering basic camping skills, to get ready for your outing.
Learn more

Crabtree Nature Center Building Closed July 1 Through Spring 2023

Major improvements to the infrastructure and visitor amenities at Crabtree Nature Center are underway! Planned updates include increasing energy efficiency by replacing the existing HVAC with all-electric systems and energy efficient lighting. New amenities include a redesigned interior, educational exhibits, and informational signs inside and out. This work is funded in part by a grant from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources
Though the nature center building will be closed from July 1 until spring 2023, the grounds will remain open throughout construction, and naturalists will remain available to answer questions and lead programming. Public bathrooms will remain open as long as possible and will only be closed intermittently as needed.

Forest Preserve Foundation Board Approves Grants for Youth Conservation Corps

As part of the spring grants cycle, the Forest Preserve Foundation’s board of directors approved grants totaling $130,000 in support of Youth Conservation Corps programs in the Forest Preserves of Cook County:
  • Chicago Conservation Leadership Corps $75,000
  • Forest Preserve Experience $55,000
Learn more about these programs and how you can help support them. Please join us in restoring vital lands and nurturing the next generation of environmental advocates.
Read more

Share Feedback for the Des Plaines River Trail Central Study

Imagine a safe and continuous walking and biking route between the CTA Forest Park Blue Line station, the Illinois Prairie Path in Maywood, and the Salt Creek Trail near 26th Street in North Riverside. What do you want to see? Take a short survey by Active Transportation Alliance to share your feedback about connecting the trail.
Take the Survey

Upcoming Events

Join our programming teams and naturalists for fun, educational offerings, including nature play and story trails, wellness programs and animal encounters, as well as guided fitness and interpretive hikes, Kids Fest and Insect Fest, and more. Check out our online events calendar for a full schedule.

Learn More

Volunteer Opportunities

If you have time, skills and enthusiasm to give, consider volunteering with the Forest Preserves of Cook County to help make your preserves healthier. Our Volunteer Resources team works with volunteer site stewards leading ecological restoration at more than 90 sites across the Forest Preserves, and manages programs that allow you to get involved with nature education, trail safety, scientific monitoring and more.

Get Involved
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