Creek Day: A Summer Camp Special

The best part of summer?  It depends on who you ask, but many would answer summer camp! A popular warm weather activity for generations both young and mature, camp has always been a time to explore nature and meet new friends. At the Forest Preserve District’s Week in the Woods summer camp, this still holds true! Throughout our week-long camps, there are a variety of activities every day such as crafts, outdoor games, and hikes that encourage kids to explore the natural world. A popular favorite activity of campers is Creek day, where they grab their bathing suits and head to Ferson Creek to play for the day. The creek is home to all kinds of aquatic creatures, such as crayfish, frogs, water skaters, and more; many of which we found on the most recent creek trip!

 

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Our Naturalists and their campers search the water with their nets

 

We had a gorgeous, sunny day to get out and explore the creek with our nets! The water was perfect to splash around in and yielded many different creatures that we caught to examine then release back into the creek. When we weren’t searching for the next best creature to drift along, the campers enjoyed swimming and learning to skip rocks; many of them showed awesome talent with it! At the end of the trip, it was clear that the campers had learned so much and gained an amazing appreciation of the creek as a not just a fun place to play, but also a habitat for the many creatures they found! Enjoy the pictures below of the trip and some of their finds! Keep scrolling for information on how to give your kids the opportunity to explore this summer…

 

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A tiny leopard frog

 

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Our nets caught many crayfish!

 

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A small nymph.

 

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A crayfish inside our “specimen bin” that was shortly after returned to it’s habitat.

 

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Another crayfish- these little guys were everywhere!

 

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Fish on! This little one was quickly returned to the water after swimming into our nets.

 

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One of our last finds of the day- a beautiful pair of shells.

 

Want your kids to explore the marvels of nature? Sign them up for Week in the Woods summer camp! Each nature camp runs for five days each, Monday through Friday. The dates are as follows:  “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. 

Get to Know a Naturalist: Ben Katzen

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Ben at Harvest of the Acorn Moon

Name:  Ben Katzen

Alma Mater: University of Florida

Hometown: Downers Grove, IL

Years worked at the Forest Preserve District: 19

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

In college, as a sophomore business major, I realized the importance of doing what you love. I changed my major to Forest Resources and Conservation.

What is your favorite part about being a naturalist?

Working with people from all walks of life throughout the County.

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

How to effectively communicate with people of various age levels and backgrounds.

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

The Canadian Rockies.

What is one item you can’t live without?

Tie between eyeglasses and shoes/boots.

Do you have any hobbies outside of work?

Car repair and electronics.

What is your favorite genre of music?

Progressive Rock.

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

Be yourself.

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

Wild Turkeys.

What has been your proudest moment in your career?

Having a child I taught in our preschool class come back 13 years later to be our college intern.

What is your favorite event at the Forest Preserve District?

Harvest of the Acorn Moon, our Fall festival.

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

Go on guided hikes to learn from other naturalists.

 

Get To Know A Naturalist: Josh Libman

 

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Josh presents at a program

Name: Josh Libman

Alma Mater: University of Illinois – Urbana/Champaign

Hometown: Lockport, IL

Years worked at the Forest Preserve District: 5 years

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

I’ve been tuned into nature my whole life. In high school, when asked “what do you want to do with the rest of your life?”, the answer came pretty easy – park ranger!

What is your favorite part about being a naturalist?

The natural world is constantly in flux, and every day brings a new discovery. My favorite part of being a naturalist is having the opportunity to stay in touch with that.

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

The most important skill I have acquired in my career is the ability to find an interpretive moment in any situation. Whether it’s a spider crawling across a classroom floor or a warbler singing its heart out in the forest canopy, you have to be ready for anything!

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

I love travel, so hiking anywhere would do! Provence in France sounds cool!

What is one item you can’t live without?

I can’t live without chapstick.

Do you have any hobbies outside of work?

Outside of work I love to bird watch and cook. Visiting a local farmer’s market, finding fresh produce, and preparing a meal for loved ones is a solid day in my mind!

What is your favorite genre of music?

Psychobilly shoegaze crustpunk

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

If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.

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

I don’t have a specific favorite animal, but I am partial to birds in general.

What has been your proudest moment in your career?

I am proud every time I get a special request for a guided hike.

What is your favorite event at the Forest Preserve District?

My favorite event is a program called Kane County Certified Naturalists. It really feels like we’re empowering adults to make informed, ecologically sound decisions.

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

Advice for a future naturalist: start with humble beginnings and work your way up! Volunteering can lead to an internship, which can turn into a position. The naturalist community is full of interesting people, get out there and make some connections!