Judith Horsley believes in teaching by example. She and her husband, Michael, planted native gardens at their West Chicago home and their church, both of which are now certified monarch waystations.
They promote green practices many ways, including growing and distributing milkweed seeds, promoting food scrap composting and encouraging community officials to incorporate green practices.
“I really enjoy teaching people of all ages about nature,” Horsley said. “I may not know everything, but I keep learning and sharing to inspire others.”
Judith Horsley disposing of trash she finds on DuPage forest preserve trails as a Trail Watch volunteer. Photo courtesy of Judith Horsley
Both Judith and Michael are certified master naturalists; Michael is also a master gardener, all through the University of Illinois extension service. Judith volunteers with summer camps at the DuPage Forest Preserve District’s Fullersburg Woods, and they’re both Trail Watch volunteers with the Forest Preserve District. They have two grown daughters.
Discovering DuPage Forest Preserves
I credit my parents and especially my mother for my love of nature. Even before I could read, she would tell me about the books she read such as “Silent Spring.” Born and raised on Chicago’s north side, we often went hiking on Sunday afternoon and utilized preserves and state parks. In 1977 it was an easy choice to live in West Chicago having hiked in DuPage County often as a child.
Michael and Judith Horsley walk the trail at McKee Marsh at Blackwell Forest Preserve. Judith brings her camera along and takes photos of "whatever I find interesting."
What Brings Her Back Time and Time Again
There is an ever-changing beauty in nature and DuPage forest preserves offer an amazing array with prairies, savannahs, forests and wetlands easily accessible and mostly connected by trails. There are protected species of plants, animals, birds and insects to observe.
Catching the Nature Bug
In spite of or maybe because of a long commute into Chicago to work at the University of Illinois Medical Center for 34 years, I wanted to be out in nature as often as possible. I attended the master gardener state meetings with my husband and found myself drawn to lectures on birds, prairies and native plants. I concluded that I needed to become a master naturalist and leave the gardening to my husband.
Michael and Judith Horsley on trail patrol on their bikes. They answer questions, assist the public, and pick up trash as volunteers with the Forest Preserve District. Photo courtesy of Judith Horsley
Favorite Things to Do in the Preserves
I like to hike or bike, stopping to photograph whatever I find interesting. I enjoy being part of the Trail Watch, assisting at the camps at Fullersburg Woods and helping shoppers at the Mayslake Native Plant Sale.
How Nature Inspires
Nature is all around us and we need to inspire care, preservation and the importance of climate change and how to mitigate them. A main focus for me is the raising of awareness to conserve all pollinators.
Advice to Others
There are many ways to engage and find inspiration in nature in DuPage forest preserves. To get started, I suggest learning about each of the preserves through the visitor centers. Forest Preserve District staff and volunteers are always friendly and willing to plan a hike, talk about habitat biodiversity and help people discover new opportunities for volunteer service, education, exercise, fun and relaxation.
Photo of a Viceroy butterfly taken by Judith Horsley.
A photo by Judith Horsley of a bee collecting nectar and pollen from a wild bergamot.