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Master Naturalist

Slow down this Winter Solstice, learn to love winter like the farmer

“How I hate to hear winter cursed. Winter is bad; summer is good. Cold, bad; warmth, good. January in Illinois, heaven forbid! January in Florida, paradise. Bah, I say, humbug! Winter is not to escape; it is to embrace… I go upstairs to warm my hands in front of the wood stove and gaze into the flames, pondering the sublime slowness of time as measured by the heavens.”  In Solstices and Equinoxes: A Farmer’s Meditations, the operator of Henry’s Farm, Henry Brockman, finds rest in an unpopular...
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Discover how people are working together to make science better

Children dream of being great things. With imagination and energy, children envision their futures in many professions – some humble, some in the light of fame. As adults, our jobs do not always align with our youth ambitions, but if your childhood dream involved being a scientist, Citizen Science may satisfy your thirst for scientific exploration.   Citizen Science, increasingly promoted as Community Science to reinforce participation by every member of a community, has four common features...
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Thank a volunteer this week

This past weekend, I was standing in the shade of Hedgeapple Woods at Ewing Park II looking at a patch of native wildflowers where only a year before there were patches of garlic mustard and bush honeysuckle – serious invasive species for our area. In just one year, there was a dramatic increase in the number of wildflowers I was able to spot in these cleared areas. These efforts and more are thanks to the amazing contributions of our University of Illinois Extension Master Naturalist and...
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Garden fun for families on Spring Break

You may not be able to travel for the kids’ spring break this year, but make it a memorable one and spend time in your own backyard, or at a local nature space. The weather is finally starting to warm up, and your garden and yard will be coming back to life soon. Get outside and get your hands dirty with a few garden activities for everyone to enjoy.   Make a maze with sticks - The ice storms were brutal on our trees this winter. Yards are still littered with branches of all...
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Get Out on the Trails

In this time of social distancing and limited activities, enjoying nature should be made a priority for all who need a bit of stress release. Have you bathed in the forest lately, hugged a tree or had a therapy session with an oak? Forest bathing is Japanese practice of immersing yourself in the forest air. For University of Illinois Master Naturalists, we call it hiking the woods and prairies of Central Illinois, a hobby these volunteers cannot do without. After connecting with the forest,...
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