Will County forest preserve hikes celebrate spring wildflowers

Forest Preserve programs highlight farm life, the history of corn, women in nature

Search for signs of early wildflowers on a Where the Wildflowers Are hike offered by the Forest Preserve District of Will County on Sunday, March 10, 2024

The Forest District of Will County is celebrating the change of season with upcoming programs and nothing says spring is here more than early spring wildflower hikes in various preserves throughout the county.

Other featured programs this month highlight farm life, the history of corn, and feature women in nature.

Online registration is available on the Event Calendar at ReconnectWithNature.org.

Armchair Historians – Riverview Farmstead: 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 20, Isle a la Cache Museum, Romeoville. Through pictures and artifacts, an interpretive naturalist will share the stories of struggles and successes from the 19th century and into the 20th century that shaped the Clow Family farm in Wheatland Township. After the presentation, explore “Raising Riverview,” the temporary exhibit created by museum staff. Light refreshments will be provided. Free, ages 16 or older. Register by March 19.

Volunteer Morning: 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, March 23, Lake Chaminwood Preserve, Troy Township. Get some fresh air and exercise while helping to make a difference in your community. Activities will include brush control. Participants must complete a waiver online. For information, contact Emily Kenny at 815-722-7364 or volunteerservices@fpdwc.org. Ages 10 or older.

Illinois Humanities Road Scholar Cynthia Clampitt

Women in the Woods Hike: 2 to 3:30 p.m. Saturday, March 23, Four Rivers Environmental Education Center, Channahon. Join fellow women of the woods on this hike to celebrate women’s role in nature. Along the trail, learn about the historical women who have quite literally paved the way. Discover the women blazing their trails today and explore the paths chosen by women of the future. Free, women and girls ages 10 or older. Register by March 22.

How Corn Changed Itself and Then Changed Everything Else: 1 to 2:30 p.m. Saturday, March 23, Isle a la Cache Museum, Romeoville. Illinois Humanities Road Scholar Cynthia Clampitt will present the history of corn and how it transformed the Americas before first contact, how it traveled the world after first contact and its stunning impact on the creation of not only the historic Midwest but just about everything in it.

About 10,000 years ago, a weedy grass that grew in Mexico transformed itself into a larger and more useful grass – the cereal grass that we would come to know as maize and then corn. Corn virtually created the Midwest, a region that settled faster than any other region in history. It also created the region’s cities, especially Chicago, where everything from grain elevators, the Chicago Board of Trade and the 1893 World’s Fair to time zones and the stockyards were made possible by the golden flood flowing into the city. Free, all ages. Register by March 21.

Wildflowers hikes

This spring, the Forest Preserve District will host a series of “Where the Wildflowers Are” hikes at multiple locations to showcase the bounty of beautiful flowers that bloom in the preserves. Scheduling the wildflower walks as a series this year is new.

”It makes sense for us to group similar programs across the county under the same name with the preserve location added for ease of use,” said Heather Van Zyl, an interpretive naturalist at the Forest Preserve’s Plum Creek Nature Center.

Also, rather than have only one hike at each wildflower hot spot, Forest Preserve staff decided to schedule multiple programs at some preserves.

”This way, wildflower hike participants will see the full story, what will be blooming next and how the areas change over time,” Van Zyl said. “It is a special experience to visit the same place repeatedly and get to know it intimately.”

Ninety-minute Where the Wildflowers Are hikes are set for:

Registration is required for each wildflower walk. Online registration is available on the Event Calendar at ReconnectWithNature.org. Van Zyl said wildflowers can bring joy to those who view them.

“The wildflowers are so special, especially in the spring when they are so fleeting,” she said. “They are significant to the interconnectedness of their habitats, and have been used as important food, medicine and ritual sources throughout time. These are all things that we will dig into on the wildflower hikes. There will be so much more than just hikes to identify plants, though, of course, we’ll do that too.”