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Woman Finds Peace in Nature

Rita Guill credits her mother with instilling a love of nature in her. She and her husband, John, are carrying on that tradition with their kids: Nathaniel (18), Aidan (17), Dominic (14) and Bella (13)

A lifelong Naperville resident, Guill is a paraprofessional in special education. Her interests include gardening – especially native plants, reading, hiking, biking, connecting with friends and family, eating out and exploring new places.

Here’s her story.



Catching the Nature Bug

Having a thirst for nature is something I have had my entire life, and I would have to say my mother is the reason for this. No matter if driving or walking, she’d point to a beautiful tree or skyline. My mother also fueled my zeal for nature by helping me plant my first flowers. So the nature bug is something that has always been instilled in me.



Discovering DuPage Forest Preserves

As a Naperville native, I have been exploring local forest preserves since I was a child. So I’m no stranger to enjoying the beauty of nature. My mother and I always enjoyed walking the various paths along the DuPage River with my sister and oftentimes our dog.


Favorite Preserve and Time to Visit

Now that I have my own family, we love to hike the various trails. Out of so many beautiful places to enjoy, the forest preserve I find myself visiting most often is St. James Farm Forest Preserve in Warrenville. At St. James Farm, my family loves seeing the historic farmhouses and grounds, appreciating the allee or rows of planned trees, and walking the prairie with its peaceful, winding creek. I love visiting all year morning, midday or evening, as each season and time of day holds some special beauty.


Three of Rita Guill's children on a walk at Herrick Lake Forest Preserve in Wheaton. Photo provided by Rita Guill


What Brings Her Back Time and Time Again

Nature is about re-centering yourself and finding peace in an often chaotic and confusing world. I get a sense of peace. Spring brings out the re-emergence of flora. It’s exhilarating to see the jack-in-the-pulpits, bloodroot and Virginia bluebells as they emerge after the quiet beauty of winter.

Wading in the creeks in summer while fishing or observing the changing of the leaves and wonderful smells of fall can make a visit to these places grounding. My children have seen the value of walking through fields and fen, felt excitement at the discovery of an undiscovered place or seeing a glimpse of a rarely seen bird or four-footed friend.



Nature’s Lessons

I believe nature teaches us to appreciate the little things and also to slow down. It is no surprise we all live in a busy world. Our attention can be often focused on what is wrong in our lives. Taking a break by walking outdoors is a surefire way to alleviate stress, increase endorphins and turn any bad day around.


Favorite Thing to Do in the Preserves

My favorite thing to do in the preserves is to take a walk with my dogs and children and admire whatever season it is in all its glory.


Rita Guill captured this beautiful fall scene at Herrick Lake Forest Preserve in Wheaton. Photo provided by Rita Guill


How Nature Inspires

Nature inspires me to not only find solitude and peace. but to also be proactive in protecting it, and to encourage others to take care of what they have. As the quote says, “Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints.”


Advice to Others

Research your local forest preserves and start there. DuPage County is blessed with a lot of various forest preserves and natural areas that can suit anybody. Whether you enjoy hiking, biking, fishing or picnicking, don’t hesitate to get out there and take advantage of the tranquility and joy awaiting you from singing birds, gentle rustling of the prairie to the melodic gurgle of the many creeks and rivers offered. Get out and explore!



Favorite Nature Quote

“Give me odorous at sunrise, a garden full of beautiful flowers, where I can walk undisturbed.”

~ Walt Whitman

This quote is impactful because it explains how there is little that can give me more pleasure than to walk through a beautiful natural area filled with trees, flowers, trails and bodies of water and just be at peace.


Bare trees at Herrick Lake Forest Preserve. Photo provided by Rita Guill



If you have a fun or unique way of catching nature in our preserves and would like to be featured in a “Catching Nature” blog, please contact Deb Humiston at

Forest Preserve District of DuPage County

Photo of blog author Forest Preserve District of DuPage County
The Forest Preserve District of DuPage County welcomes more than 6.2 million visitors a year; and manages nearly 26,000 acres in 60 forest preserves containing prairies, woodlands and wetlands.

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