On Saturday, February 7, I took the Blue Line to University of Illinois at Chicago and spent the day at the 2009 Wild Things conference. There were about a thousand attendees and more than a hundred presentations, posters, and booths to choose from.
I picked the sessions that would most support my interests in neighborhood nature and took down names of other speakers, so I could look up their work at a later date. I learned a lot about urban wildlife, like squirrels, cottontail rabbits, and Canada Geese. I also found out more about citizen science efforts to monitor local birds, mammals, and frogs, including some initial findings and recommendations from this research. I heard about people’s changing relationship with nature and discovered local grassroots groups dealing with environmental issues like one that south Oak Park faced in Barrie Park. And I made contacts in the Chicago Park District that may deepen my family’s involvement at Columbus Park.
I learned way too much to put in one post, plus I need to do more research — online and on the ground — before I write about what I learned. So, stay tuned.
On Sunday, the family split up: Aaron went to Starved Rock State Park with his friend, Matt, where he saw Bald Eagles and added five birds to his year list. Dad and Ethan headed to the Indiana shore in search of other year birds. And Mom stayed in the neighborhood to do her homework and work out at Pav YMCA. Go here to read more about the birding part of our adventures.