2023 Conference Schedule

Bringing Nature to Life by Preserving Healthy Ecosystems

Saturday, November 11, 2023


8:15am – 8:45am – Registration, Coffee, and Exhibitor Tables

8:45am – 9:00am – Introduction

9:00am – 10:00 Dr. Jeff Hoyer; The Natural and Unnatural History of the Prairies in the Midwest The prairie is a uniquely American biome, found nowhere else on earth outside of North America. There are many reasons, that stretch over hundreds of millions of years of geologic time and human history as to why this specific type of grassland developed here. Small remnants of the great prairie ecosystem that once stretched from Illinois to the Rockies and from Canada down to Mexico still survive in tiny postage stamp size nature preserves. This presentation will help us understand what ancient forces formed the very land we live on and the impact man has had on the landscape. With help, these small gene banks can be used to repopulate our native species before they go extinct, leaving us with fewer options to combat serious threats like soil erosion, global warming and shortages of fresh water.

How can we save the fragments of this once vast ecosystem in community nature preserves and individual yards? Jeff will discuss the value of native plants and how we can share in the benefits they provide for our environment.

10:00am – 10:30 am – Morning Break, Refreshments and Exhibitor Tables

10:30am – 11-30amEd Collins; Respecting Water This session centers on wetland communities and the critical role they play in healthy soils, vegetation and wildlife habitat. While large wetland and stream restoration projects are important, even the smallest back yard can play a role in respecting water as the crucial life blood flowing through the natural world and upon which all plants and animals are dependent. From rain gardens to wet prairies to artificially created water features, the options for integrating wetland and water into the private landscape are diverse and exciting.

Explore the common wetland communities of our region, the plants and animals that call them home and how soils and landforms have shaped those communities into the marshes, sedge meadows and fens that make northeastern Illinois unique. We will cover a variety of wetland plants and animals, how artificial drainage has changed the function of many wetlands and what management techniques are important when considering wetlands as part of one’s personal landscape.

Come spend an hour touring the muck soils of our area without needing to wear rubber boots!

11:30am – 11:45am – Short Break

11:45am – 12:45pm Kelly Cartwright, PhD; Wonderful Woodlands: Beauty and Biodiversity Woodlands are a key feature in Lake County and are valuable habitats for many reasons. Woodland habitats, even on a residential scale, can imporve human health, mitigate climate change and support ecological processes. This presentation will include concepts and practices that allow you to leverage your residential landscape to best support native communities. Applications into plant selection and planting, specific species initiatives, soil health, new invasive species and ecological landscaping trends will be discussed.

12:45pm – Closing Comments

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