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Winter Trails and Naturalist Tales - 2023

Event Date(s)
Event Time
Torstenson's Education Center 13735 Cook Road, Pecatonica, IL
Event Fee

Embrace winter's beauty through outdoor exploration and indoor inspiration at University of Illinois Extension's Winter Trails & Naturalist Tales from 9:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, January 28, 2023. Winter Trails & Naturalist Tales will be held at Torstenson's Education Center, 13735 Cook Road, Pecatonica, and includes three "naturalist tales" keynote speakers and a "winter trails" hike / bird watching.

The first naturalist tale will focus on The Art of Observing Wildlife. Whether you are a casual observer or an aspiring nature photographer, these tips on wildlife observation will get you started on the path to noticing the natural world around you.  Learn some of the techniques Connie has used over the years while observing and photographing nature right here in the Rockford region.

The second naturalist tale will focus on Birdwatching for Beginners. This tale will cover everything from where to find birds, choosing a bird field guide, what to look for when buying binoculars or a spotting scope, and bird watching magazines to birding regulations and ecotourism.  At the end of the day, the group will go outside to do some birdwatching.

The third naturalist tale will focus on the association between plants and insects, You Can't Have One Without the Other: Plant and Pest Associations. Some examples of what will be covered are: Oak Galls, Emerald Ash Borer, Drippy Oak Blight and much more.

Our Presenters:

CONNIE MCINTOSH is an University of Illinois Extesnion Master Naturalist.  Connie is a life-long resident of the Rockford region and has been interested in learning about nature since childhood.  She has been a Master Naturalist and nature photographer since 2012.  Over the past 10 years, she has presented programs throughout the community on nature-related topics.  Connie participates in Citizen Scientist projects such as frog and bat monitoring.  She also serves as an Education Volunteer at Severson Dells Nature Center.

STACEY CLARK has been a Master Naturalist for 10 years. She's been a dedicated bird watcher for over 30 years and keeps a pair of binoculars in her car "just in case." Stacey has been a volunteer at Sand Bluff Bird Observatory since 2008 and one of her favorite activities is sharing her love of birds with others.

TRICIA BETHKE is the Illinois Forest Pest Outreach Coordinator. Her position is funded through a cooperative grant with USDA APHIS and The Morton Arboretum. Tricia’s responsibilities include statewide training of key stakeholders on the USDA APHIS Hungry Pests program, forest pest identification, high-risk pathways, regulations and quarantines, and reporting protocols. Tricia also coordinates and instructs audiences on tree identification, forest pest detection, and tree health monitoring. Tricia received a Master of Science in Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences from the University of Illinois.


Our Presenters:

CONNIE MCINTOSH  - The Art of Observing Wildlife

STACEY CLARK - Birdwatching for Beginners

TRICIA BETHKE - You Can't Have One Without the Other: Plant and Pest Associations


Winter Trails and Naturalist Tales costs $20 per person and includes two keynote speakers and a self-guided outdoor hike. Pre-registration is required by January 25, 2023.


Winter Trails & Naturalist Tales

Saturday, January 28, 2023

Torstenson's Education Center

13735 Cook Road, Pecatonica, IL


8:30 am    Registration and coffee/tea

9:00 a.m.  Welcome by Margaret Larson, County Director

9:05 a.m.  Naturalist Tale:  Connie McIntosh, Master Naturalist

11:00 a.m. Naturalist Tale: Stacey Clark, Master Naturalist

12:00 a.m. Lunch

12:30 a.m. Naturalist Tale: Tricia Bethke, Morteum Arboretum

1:30 p.m.   Naturalist Trail:  Stacey Clark - Hike/Birdwatch

If you need a reasonable accommodation to participate in this program, please contact the Winnebago County Extension office at (815) 986-4357.


From Wiegert Road turn left onto Cook.  You will take this road past the two houses on the left-hand side and through the gate of Torstenson's. Once you are through the gate, the Torstenson's Education Center will be on the right hand side.  There will be a sign that says Torstenson's Youth Learning Center. 

Click here for a printable flyer.