Get To Know A Naturalist: Erica Lemon


Erica examines a bug with a camper


Name: Erica Lemon

Alma Mater: University of Iowa

Hometown: Grew up in Burlington, IA. Now live in Pingree Grove, IL

Years worked at the Forest Preserve District: 14 (13 full time)

How and when did you become interested in being a naturalist?

In community college I really got interested in environmental science and it gave me the motivation to educate the public on our natural world.

What is your favorite part about being a naturalist?

Seeing the wonder in the eyes of all ages, but especially in little kids, when they see or learn something new.

What is the most important skill you have acquired through your career?

Being able to adjust the way I’m speaking depending on the knowledge level of my audience.

If you could take a hike anywhere in the world, where would it be?

Zion National Park.

What is one item you can’t live without?

Sugar haha!

Do you have any hobbies outside of work?

I crochet and I’m into nature photography.

What is your favorite genre of music?

80’s rock and pop.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

Don’t worry about things you can’t change. Though I struggle following that piece of advice!

Do you have a favorite animal and/or plant species?

Turkey Vultures.

What has been your proudest moment in your career?

Hiking with a group of Aurora High Schoolers. There was one student that looked like someone 100% not interested in nature, not dressed quite right for the outdoors, ear buds in, hat backwards, stayed at the back of the group. As the hike went on, he kept kind of inching his way closer to the front of the group. About half way through, he was walking right with me and asking all sorts of relevant questions. By the end of the hike, he told me he would love to do “something like this” when he was finished with school!

What is your favorite event at the Forest Preserve District?

Monarchs & Milkweed, hands down!

What is one piece of advice you would give to an aspiring naturalist? 

Focus on the part of nature you enjoy most, we can all learn from each other to expand in other areas!


View the slideshow for a few examples of Erica’s nature photos!

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