Kathy and I are both retired, but we like to remain active. We each volunteer for various organizations both together and individually. Most of these organizations are nature focused.
For instance, besides being trail watch volunteers for the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County, Kathy is also a volunteer trail monitor at the Morton Arboretum, where she also volunteers for special events and guest information services. Bruce is also a volunteer docent at Brookfield Zoo, and an amphibian monitor for the Forest Preserve District. He also works as a seasonal encroachment monitor for the Forest Preserve District.
Catching the Nature Bug
For Bruce it was growing up in Minnesota and going camping with family when young, and then the Boy Scouts when older. Outdoor living is the norm in Minnesota. Nearly everyone there hikes, fishes, boats or camps.
Kathy was a city girl but later began traveling to state and then national parks. She has an affinity for long walks. Transitioning to the DuPage Forest Preserves was a good fit for both of us after we retired.
Once we finally took the time to see what the preserves offers as far as beauty and trails, we found ourselves walking the preserves more and more. When we first heard about the volunteer trail watch program we both wanted to join, and walking together makes it easier to find the time to do it.
Trail watch volunteers assist the Forest Preserve District police by hiking or biking DuPage forest preserve trails to provide information and safety tips to visitors. In addition to answering visitors' questions about the preserves, they distribute forest preserve maps, monitor trail conditions and report emergencies. They also pick up trash on the trails as they walk.
What Brings Them Back Time and Time Again
The large number of trails and preserves make it much more interesting. The preserves offer everything from prairie to savanna to woodlands. We try to walk all of the trailed preserves every summer. The variety of wildlife never fails to impress. You never know what type of fauna may appear on the trail. We both enjoy just walking and observing. Our favorite forest preserve is Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve in Darien because of its size and range of landscapes, including a couple hills.
The Rocky Glen waterfall at Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve in Darien.
How Nature Inspires
It is invigorating to see the transformation of the preserves over the course of the year. Even after the harshest winters you get to see the rebirth of the forests. All of the fallen grasses and plants begin to come back alive and begin to stand strong again. Since we walk every week in the preserves, it is very uplifting to see this process. Volunteering makes you feel as if you are contributing in some small way to helping this along.
Advice to Others
Just simply get out there and walk. You will be surprised how good it can make you feel.