Janet Lawrence Nature explorer, volunteer I live in Naperville with my husband and have three young adult kids. My youngest just started his freshman year at college, so we are new empty nesters! I spent the last 25 or so years volunteering as much as I could with Naperville Community School District 203 and other spots around town. This past spring I began a regular shift as a volunteer animal keeper at the District’s Willowbrook Wildlife Center in Glen Ellyn.
Katherine Howard Nature Whisperer I grew up in Idaho and Alaska, so nature has always been up close and personal for me. My favorite childhood memories are entwined with experiences with wildlife, such as the many orphaned and injured animals that my stepfather would rehabilitate and release.
Julie Nelson Naperville Mom and nature lover My daughters — Olivia, 16 and Hannah, 14 — were about halfway through summer, and I felt we were in a rut. It seemed like each day they fell into the same routine of summer school, swimming, shopping, going to a movie or falling back to tech time and social media on their phones if we didn’t have other plans. I was looking for ways to find a bit of balance, unplug, practice mindfulness and make some memories without spending too much money.
Not many people can claim kinship with a piece of land, but Mayslake steward Conrad Fialkowski may be one of those people. He has been working tirelessly for more than 30 years to restore the woodland and prairie landscape to Mayslake Forest Preserve, since before the land was owned by the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County.
Vanessa Gallt always wanted to work with animals, and she found the perfect outlet as an animal care volunteer at the District’s Willowbrook Wildlife Center in Glen Ellyn. She prepares diets for the numerous native wildlife Willowbrook cares for, cleans animal enclosures and monitors the well-being of animals.