Conservation Days for Spring 2017

See the spring schedule below

See our Suggested Reading page for books we have reviewed over the past 23 years as well as others of interest to conservation.

John E. Schwegman, The Natural History of Illinois.
Southern Illinois University Press, 2016


John E. Schwegman is the principal author of “The Natural Divisions of Illinois,” a classification of the state’s natural lands that guides the development of the Illinois Nature Preserves system. He established what is now the Division of Natural Heritage at the IDNR, and led the founding of the Natural Areas Association. The 93 essays in this book were originally published for the general reader in newspapers in the 1990s, and are updated to 2015. The essays describe the diversity of land forms, plants and animals, how early European settlers experienced them, and where we can go to experience them. The 24 essays on ecology, conservation, and management of the state’s natural features are especially interesting for those of us who work on conservation.

Larry Thorsen

Scott D. Sampson, How to Raise a Wild Child.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015


Spending time in natural settings supports kids’ emotional, social, and cognitive development. It helps develop problem-solving skills. Frequent exposure to nature helps relieve stress, depression, and improve concentration, coordination, and agility. Think about it: humanity does not really exist ..."outside nature."

This book offers theory and practical ideas for getting kids (and the adults in their lives) involved with "wild places"--in their daily environment as well as designated natural areas.

A three-pronged approach is focused on (1) Experience--often “hands off” by the adults involved; (2) Mentoring; and (3) Understanding. Sampson provides motivation and practical suggestions for ways to "foster nature connection" in early childhood, middle childhood, and adolescence.

The author is a dinosaur paleontologist, president and CEO of Science World in Vancouver, and host of PBS KIDS television series "Dinosaur Train."

– Debby Tolle

Joe McFarland and Gregory M. Muller, Edible Wild Mushrooms of Illinois and Surrounding States. University of Illinois Press, 2009


Here is a mushroom guide that offers everything for both amateur hunters and those who just want to read and learn. Each species is fully described as to shape, color, and habitat, with beautiful close-up photographs and interesting comments. The first chapter includes tips for beginners and comments on how forests are dependent on fungi, and the last chapter contains 26 recipes and tips for preparation and cooking.

Invasive Plant Phenology Report. University of Illinois Extension Forestry. Technical Forestry Bulletin

2016 was the warmest year on record, continuing the trend. Are warmer winters and earlier spring warming causing changes in bird migration and nesting and changes in seasonal plant development? Phenology is the relationship between seasonal climate change and periodic biological phenomena such as bird migration and plant flowering. The technical forestry bulletins are monthly reports on seasonal developments, such as leaf emergence, flowering and fruiting of invasive plant species in the different regions of Illinois.

Xerces Society. Upper Midwest Citizen Science Guide. Native Bees.

The Xerces Society is an international nonprofit organization that protects wildlife through conservation of invertebrates and their habitat. Its Pollination Conservation Resources for the Great Lakes Region include “100 Plants to Feed the Bees,” bee ID guides and other information on bees, butterflies, other pollinators and plants that attract pollinators. For example, although monarch butterfly larvae feed on milkweed, there is a need for nectar plants that attract adult monarch butterflies. The nectar plants in our region include purple coneflower, prairie blazing star, swamp milkweed, common milkweed, butterfly milkweed, Culver’s root, New England aster, stiff tickseed, leadplant, and others.

ERIGENIA, The Journal of the Illinois Native Plant Society.

The peer-reviewed journal, named after Erigenia bulbosa, harbinger of spring, publishes articles on the ecology of native species and the interactions with and effects of birds, mammals, and insects.

Conservation Days for Spring 2017

Our conservation work days are on Saturdays from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m. Everyone is welcome and no prior experience is necessary. We do not have formal membership or dues. Just come as often as you like and help us do our small part to maintain the health of prairie remnants, prairie restorations and woodlands. Visit this page from time to time to get updates. To receive email notifications of updates and cancellations send your email address to Larry at with a request to be added to the list.

We advise sturdy footwear and gloves at work days. Tools are provided but bring your own loppers and shovels if you have them.

Click to download a print-friendly PDF version of the Conservation Day Schedule for Spring 2017.



All events begin at 9:00 a.m.

March 18 - Lafferty Nature Study Center for pulling and digging bush honeysuckle. Lafferty is behind Carl Sandberg School on Reynolds Drive in Charleston.

March 25 - Lakeview Park for pulling and digging bush honeysuckle and other invasives. Parking for Lakeview Park is at the end of McKinley Avenue in Charleston.

April 1 - Woodyard Conservation Area for bush honeysuckle removal. Woodyard is 1.8 miles south of Route 16 on Route 130.

April 8 - Neoga Railroad Prairie for control of woodies. Take Route 45 one mile south from the stop sign in Neoga and turn right at the cemetery sign.

April 15 - Burgner Acres for garlic mustard removal. Take Coles County Road 1000 North to County Road 1150 East, turn south and go about 0.2 mile to the end of the road.

April 22 - Earth Day activities at Douglas-Hart Nature Center. We will plant trees or work on Bush honeysuckle. Douglas-Hart is at the corner of Lerna Road the DeWitt Avenue in Mattoon.

April 29 - Embarras Ridges for garlic mustard pull. Take Route 130 south from Charleston to Daileyville Road (CR 1470 North). Follow the road about one mile through the gate to the parking area on the right.

May 13 - Rocky Branch Nature Preserve. Our annual walk through this unique woodland. Meet at the café at the top of the hill in Clarksville for car pooling.

May 20 - Warbler Woods for bush honeysuckle removal. Take Daileyville Road about one-half mile to the gate at the second left turn.

June 3 - Coneflower Hill Prairie for sweet clover removal. Take the Bruce-Findlay Road about 5 miles west from Coles Station, turn right at the electric substation, go 2 miles to the “T,” turn left and go one mile to the parking area.

June 10 - Woodyard Conservation Area for removal of bush honeysuckle and other invasives.

June 17 - Lakeview Park for bush honeysuckle removal.

June 24 - Walnut Point State Park for bush honeysuckle removal. Walnut Point is north of Oakland. Meet at the Pleasant Grove picnic area.