A Week in the Woods

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Naturalist Ben Katzen leads campers on a hike through the prairie

Have your kids always wanted to learn how to survive in the woods, or learn how the field of STEM relates to nature? Or maybe their goal (or yours for them) this summer is to unplug from technology and immerse yourself in the great outdoors! Then we have great news: the Forest Preserve District’s summer camps are a perfect activity for your child. At our naturalist-led camps, kids will be able to get out of the house and into nature at LeRoy Oakes Forest Preserve throughout the summer.

Survival skills are extremely important to both animals and humans who may venture into the woods! In the first week-long installment of summer camp, “Tracking and Survival”, kids will learn how to “read the woods” by searching the forest preserve for clues such as tracks and rubbings that will reveal the hidden world of animals and how they survive in the woods. Kids will also learn human survivals skills such as how to make a rope and build a shelter, among other lessons. It will be a week filled with games, crafts, and lots of hiking!

In July, we’ll discover the beauty of the natural world through STEM-based learning principles at “STEM in Nature”. With the help of naturalists, campers will discover that STEM is all around us in nature! There will be lessons around the architecture of a bird’s nest, the feat of an insect gall, the symmetry of beehives, and much more.

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Campers take a swim in the creek with Naturalist Josh Libman

In the last summer camp installment in August, we’ll focus on enjoying the beautiful weather and outdoors the best way possible; unplugged! At “Summer Unplugged”, kids will have the chance to experience the grandeur of the outdoors just like they did in the good old days. Getting in touch with nature will be the focus that week as campers will be able to play around the forest without any of the common distractions that come with everyday life. The woods, creek, and prairie are just waiting to be explored!

Each nature camp will run for five days each, Monday through Friday. The dates are as follows: “Tracking and Survival” June 24-June 28, “STEM in Nature” July 15-July 19, and “Summer Unplugged” August 5-August 9. Camp is for kids entering 1st-6th grade, and there is a fee of $175/child for the week. Advance registration is required, register by calling 630-444-3190 or email programs@kaneforest.com. 

May Garlic Mustard Pull

 

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Robb Cleave, Volunteer Coordinator at the Forest Preserve District, demonstrates how to remove Garlic Mustard.

Removing invasive species is important for our local environment. Garlic Mustard is an especially invasive species that affect states all over the country, specifically afflicting our local forest preserves as well! Earlier this month, the Forest Preserve District collaborated with Aurora Christian School’s students to remove Garlic Mustard from Elburn Forest Preserve!

For many invasive plants, specifically Garlic Mustard, removal is the most effective treatment. Garlic Mustard has shallow roots, which allow it to grow upward very quickly and shade out its surrounding native plants. Luckily, the shallow roots make it easy to pull out of the ground, preventing it from reseeding for the next year. At this removal, a few students and employees of the Forest Preserve District worked together to pull the Garlic Mustard population at the forest preserve. There was a larger population of the invasive plant in the area, but together they were able to pull over 200 lbs. of Garlic Mustard, and even observe some wildlife along the way!

Looking to remove this plant from your yard or a local natural area? Be sure to have trash bags ready for storage of the plants during removal, and remove the entire root system, not just the stem, so there is a chance the plant can regrow. Fun fact: after you’re done with removal, you can make a meal with your gatherings! Garlic Mustard has historically been used as an herb in many recipes- but be sure to cook it first. At the end of the day, you’ll have done your local environment- and dinner- a favor!

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Aurora Christian students pose with the garbage bags of garlic mustard they pulled.

 

Interested in volunteering with the Forest Preserve District? We host many invasive species removals as well as many other events! Check us out at http://www.kaneforest.com to learn more about how you can help!

A Match Made in Heaven: Creek Bend Wedding Shoot

Love is in the air at Creek Bend Nature Center! This venue sits on LeRoy Oakes Forest Preserve and is just steps away from Ferson Creek. It’s the perfect natural setting for any wedding or special event! In early May, we were lucky to host various vendors and photographers as they collaborated on a wedding shoot. The photos are stunning, and we are so proud to have served as the backdrop for these pictures! Scroll down to experience the beauty of Creek Bend:

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Interested and want to know more about Creek Bend?

Open tours are every Wednesday, 3 p.m.-7 p.m.

Or

Call 630-444-3064 or email events@kaneforest.com

 

Venue: Creek Bend Nature Center in St. Charles, IL

Photographers:

Expedition Joy Photography @expeditionjoy

Polished Arrow Photography @polishedarrowphotography

Vintage Rentals: Forget Me Knot Vintage Rentals @forget.me.knot.rentals

Signage: Illumination Custom Designs @illuminationcustomdesigns

Florals: Florals by Debi Barone, Dundee, IL

Make-Up: @laurenn_nelsonn

Dress: @missstellayork from @crystalbrideofficial

Coffee Cart: @barista_of_chicagoland

Cakes: @ericakorencakery

Invitations and Paper Goods: @heritagecreativeco

 

Woodland Birthday Parties

 

 

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Does your child have a birthday coming up soon? Let us host the party with one of our Woodland Birthday Parties! Surrounded by the trees, birds, and other woodland creatures at LeRoy Oakes Forest Preserve, we will provide the best party for any nature-loving child.

Treat your child and their friends to a one hour, naturalist-led activity of your choice. Learn about the plant and animal species that call our local woodlands home during a hike led by one of our Naturalists through the beautiful trails of the forest preserve. Looking for a more cozy setting? The other option is a hands-on campfire, with a naturalist led discussion about a variety of nature topics. After the naturalist activity, the group is given an hour to stay in the historic Creek Bend facility and have free time in the Nature Center.

All parties come with unique, nature themed party favors for every child to take home with them. Food is not provided as a part of the party, but families are more than welcome to provide their own. Although decorations are not provided as a part of the package, guests are welcome to enter the facility early to decorate for their party.

Consider a Woodland party for your child’s next birthday party! The natural surroundings and hands-on experiences will be sure to make your child’s birthday one to remember. For more details, email programs@kaneforest.com or call (630) 444-3190.

How to Prevent Invasive Species

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Invasive brush at Glenwood Park. 

Spring is in the air, and summer is on its way! This means that plants are growing and flowers are blooming once again. However, the change of seasons also suggests the return of some rather not-so-welcome plant species; the invasive kind. Invasive plants are not native to the area in which they grow, spread quickly, and can cause damage to the environment around it. So, what are some ways that you can prevent invasive species from inhabiting our local environment?

 

If it looks suspicious, leave it there.

There are a few invasive species that can appear to be beautiful or interesting. A good guideline to follow is if you don’t know what it is, leave it there. This prevents the spreading of their seeds to other areas through transport. There are plenty of native species that would make a much better (and safer) bouquet.

 

Proceed with caution.

If you’ve spent an afternoon out in nature, be sure to clean off any clothing items before moving to another environment. Seeds can often cling to shoes, pants, etc. and make a new home anywhere they may fall. Washing them is often the most effective way of getting rid unwanted hitchhikers. Pets can also carry seeds that may cling to their fur, so be sure to give them a good cleaning as well.

 

Keep it native.

Spring and summer is prime time to do gardening to keep your yard looking lush. When selecting plants, try to choose only native plants that will create a better environment for their neighboring greenery. Native plants also help to prevent the spread of invasive species to create a natural defense system right in your backyard!

 

Educate others and yourself.

Think you may have spotted an invasive species? The best step you can take is to remove it. Illinois houses many invasive species; from grasses to vines, these unwanted guests take many forms. A few common examples are garlic mustard and Japanese stillgrass. If you are unsure, research if the plant is invasive or not, and exercise caution when transporting them to the trash.

 

Volunteer!

Invasive species can be found all over Kane County. The good news is, the Kane County Forest Preserve hosts many removal programs for invasive species, and we can always use your help! For more information about these removals, visit our website at http://www.kaneforest.com