COVID-19 precautions

  • Masks are required for all programs.
  • Maintain a minimum of 6 feet of distance between yourself and others.
  • Group sizes will be limited to 25 people inside and 50 people outside, effective Jan. 26, 2021.
  • Stay home if you are sick, or if you have been in contact with someone who is ill.

REGISTRATION

Registration is required for all programs unless otherwise noted. To register for any of our programs, please fill out a registration form, or call 630-444-3190. Telephone reservations are accepted weekdays, 8 a.m. - 4 p.m.


PAYMENT

Program payments may be made in person (cash, check or credit card) or via mail (checks only) to:

Creek Bend Nature Center
LeRoy Oakes Forest Preserve
37W700 Dean St.
St. Charles, IL 60175

Checks should be made payable to: Forest Preserve District of Kane County.

Programs are free unless otherwise indicated. Fee assistance is available upon request.


SUGGESTED ATTIRE

Most of our programs involve outdoor activities such as walking on trails. Please wear closed-toe shoes or boots (no sandals!) and long pants.


WEATHER

Severe weather cancels most programs. Call 630-444-3190 for program updates and cancellation announcements.


CANCELLATIONS

Please call us if you need to cancel, so that we may contact others on our wait list.


SPECIAL ACCOMMODATIONS

If you require special accommodations, please let us know at least two weeks in advance by calling the program manager at 630-649-1147. Anyone who requires an auxiliary aid or service for effective communication, or a modification of policies or procedures to participate in a program, service or activity of the District, should contact the ADA Coordinator at Voice: 630-232-5921 or 630-232-5980, TTY Relay: 800-526-0844, e-mail at ada@kaneforest.com or mail at 1996 S. Kirk Rd., Ste. 320, Geneva, IL 60134, as soon as possible, but no later than 72 hours before the scheduled event.


NATURE PROGRAM EVALUATION

Have you attended a recent nature program by the Forest Preserve District of Kane County? Tell us how we did. Fill-out our online Nature Program Evaluation. There, you can rate our performance as well as our facilities, suggest future program topics, subscribe to The TreeLine newsletter, and more.

COVID-19 precautions

  • Masks are required for all programs.
  • Maintain a minimum of 6 feet of distance between yourself and others.
  • Group sizes will be limited to 25 indoors and 50 people outdoors, effective Jan. 26, 2021.
  • Stay home if you are sick, or if you have been in contact with someone who is ill.

Registration is required. Many programs fill up quickly, so please register early to guarantee a spot. Call 630-444-3190 or fill out this form to register.


StorY Time At Creek Bend Nature Center

Enjoy a virtual story, explore Creek Bend Nature Center, and learn how you can create beautiful things with nature! We'll provide the materials needed to do the take-home craft. Each month, we'll release a new video featuring a book read by a librarian with the St. Charles Public Library and a fun craft for you to do at home. Stop into Creek Bend Nature Center to see the video on each release date and we'll provide you the the take-home craft items. This is a drop-in program. No registration required.

  • Wednesday, May 12; 10 a.m. - noon
  • Wednesday, June 16; 10 a.m. - noon
  • Wednesday, July 21; 10 a.m. - noon
  • Wednesday, Aug. 18; 10 a.m. - noon

Creek Bend Nature Center
LeRoy Oakes Forest Preserve
37W700 Dean St., St. Charles
FREE


little saplings

In this monthly program geared for 3-5 year-olds, we'll explore the natural world through a variety of activities specific to the theme of the month. Sessions include a combination of stories, nature hikes, songs, games, or crafts. A parent or caregiver must accompany child.

Thursday, May 20; 9:30 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. "Birds of a Feather"
Creek Bend Nature Center
LeRoy Oakes Forest Preserve
37W700 Dean St., St. Charles
Fee: $5/child

Thursday, June 17; 9:30 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. "June Bugs & Slugs"
Creek Bend Nature Center
LeRoy Oakes Forest Preserve
37W700 Dean St., St. Charles
Fee: $5/child

Thursday, July 15; 9:30 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. "Life in the Pond"
Creek Bend Nature Center
LeRoy Oakes Forest Preserve
37W700 Dean St., St. Charles
Fee: $5/child

Thursday, Aug. 19; 9:30 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. "Prancing in the Prairie"
Creek Bend Nature Center
LeRoy Oakes Forest Preserve
37W700 Dean St., St. Charles
Fee: $5/child


Youth Kayak Fishing Experience

Get out on local lakes with a professional kayak fishing instructor from Chi-Yak Adventures. Using water crafts specifically designed for anglers, you're sure to get into secret spots not reachable from shore. Whether you're looking to learn the skills involved in fishing from a watercraft or to pick up a few pointers for improving your angling skills, this is the program for you! Take one, two, or all four sessions. We'll provide the paddle kayak, safety equipment, kayaking instruction and all the fishing gear required to get you out on the water safely and catching fish effectively! We require at least one week prior to the program and full payment at the time of registration. This program is for youth entering grades 8-12.

Friday, June 18; 8 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
Big Rock Forest Preserve
46W072 Jericho Rd., Big Rock
Fee: $99/child

Monday, June 28; 8 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
Grunwald Farms Forest Preserve
02S035 S. Lorang Rd., Elburn
Fee: $99/child

Monday, July 26; 8 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
Big Rock Forest Preserve
46W072 Jericho Rd., Big Rock
Fee: $99/child

Tuesday, Aug. 3; 8 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
Grunwald Farms Forest Preserve
02S035 S. Lorang Rd., Elburn
Fee: $99/child


Week in the Woods Summer Camp

Explore the woods and fields during these five-day nature camps! Naturalists will lead activities based on a different nature theme each day. Summer camp is for children entering grades 1st - 6th. Advance registration is required. Call 630-444-3190 or email programs@kaneforest.com to register. Detailed camp information will be provided upon registration.

Monday - Friday, June 21 - 25
9 a.m. - Noon
"Tracking & Survival"

Johnson's Mound Forest Preserve
41W600 Hughes Rd., Elburn
Fee: $125/child

Monday - Friday, July 12 -16
9 a.m. - Noon
"STEM in Nature"

Burnidge Forest Preserve
14N035 Coombs Rd., Elgin
Fee: $125/child

Monday - Friday, July 26 - 30
9 a.m. - Noon
"Summer Unplugged"

Creek Bend Nature Center
LeRoy Oakes Forest Preserve
37W700 Dean St., St. Charles
Fee: $125/child


Junior Naturalist Camp

During this camp conducted in partnership with the Geneva Park District, discover the sights and sounds of a different forest preserve each day! Get your feet wet in local rivers and streams, track animals in nearby woodlands, and explore firsthand the history and geology of Kane County. This full-day camp is for children entering grades 3rd through 5th. Each day of camp will begin and end at Peck Farm Park (4038 Kaneville Rd., Geneva) then travel by bus to a different Kane County forest preserve each day. Advance registration is required, with 3 ways to register: Online at www.genevaparks.org, by phone at 630-232-4542, or in-person at Sunset Community Center (710 Western Ave., Geneva.) Registration opens March 9 for Geneva residents and March 16 for non-residents. Detailed camp information will be provided upon registration.

Daily Themes/Forest Preserves:

  • Day 1: Watersheds & Wetlands - LeRoy Oakes Forest Preserve, St. Charles
  • Day 2: Geology - Camp Tomo Chi-Chi Knolls, Gilberts
  • Day 3: River Ecology - Glenwood Park Forest Preserve, Batavia
  • Day 4: Woodlands & Woodland Animals - Bliss Woods Forest Preserve, Sugar Grove
  • Day 5: Cultural & Natural History - LeRoy Oakes Forest Preserve, St. Charles & Fabyan Forest Preserve, Geneva
Time: 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Fee: $290/child per session

  • Session 1: Monday - Friday, June 28 - July 2; Activity Code: 3212806-01
  • Session 2: Monday - Friday, July 19 - 23; Activity Code: 3212806-02
  • Session 3: Monday - Friday, Aug. 2 - 6; Activity Code: 3212806-03

Woodland Birthday Parties

Let us host a Woodland Birthday party for your child! We'll take care of the planning, entertainment and clean-up! Woodland Birthday Parties feature: An outdoor guided hike led by naturalists; a campfire; unique nature-themed party favors; use of Creek Bend Nature Center. Parties are available year-round! The fee is $100 for Kane County residents; $125 for out-of-county residents. Rate includes a party for 15 children; for more than 15 children, there will be an additional $5 per child. Call 630-444-3190 or email programs@kaneforest.com for more information or to book your Woodland Birthday Party today!

COVID-19 Precautions

  • Masks are required for all programs.
  • Maintain a minimum of 6 feet of distance between yourself and others.
  • Group sizes will be limited to 25 indoors and 50 people outdoors, effective Jan. 26, 2021.
  • Stay home if you are sick, or if you have been in contact with someone who is ill.

All ages are welcome to attend family programs unless an age limit is specified. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Organized groups must schedule a separate tour for their group. Advance registration is required. Call 630-444-3190 or fill out this form to register.


out & About podcast

The natural world is loaded with interesting learning opportunities, and the Forest Preserve District of Kane County has over 20,000 acres to explore! Stay up-to-date with the latest happenings in the District, and have some fun with Naturalist Josh Libman as we highlight the wonderful ways to enjoy our open spaces.

Episode 8 Releases Thursday, Aug. 12
Virtual
Listen here.
FREE


Wildflowers Galore!

Kane County has many beautiful wildflowers that show themselves in the spring. Join us for a hike through our woodlands to find some of these plants and learn about their habitats and histories.

Saturday, May 8; 9:30-10:30 a.m.
Camp Tomo Chi-Chi Knolls
40W095 Freeman Rd., Gilberts
FREE


Earth Day Birthday

The first Earth Day, on April 22, 1970, is credited with launching the modern environmental movement. Let's meet to carry on the legacy and celebrate the natural world. Come to enjoy a campfire program about the history and impact of Earth Day and to discuss ways we can help protect this Earth we all call home. We'll conclude the evening with an invigorating twilight birthday hike! Meet at Creek Bend Nature Center for an introduction prior to heading outdoors.

Thursday, April 22; 5:30-7 p.m.
LeRoy Oakes Forest Preserve
37W700 Dean St., St. Charles
Fee: $2/person


Ethnobotany Exploration

Since time immemorial, the stories of people and plants have intertwined in terms of shelter, weaponry, ceremony, food and medicine. Before European colonization of North America, Native Americans were nourished and physically healed by the land. Join a naturalist to walk back in time and admire the woods as not only a place of beauty and shelter, but as a provider of food and medicine.

Thursday, April 29; 4-5 p.m.
Tekakwitha Woods Forest Preserve
35W076 Villa Maria Rd., St. Charles
FREE


Warbler Mania

Enjoy the changing seasons as we hike, look, and listen for the birds inhabiting our forest preserves this spring. District naturalists will cover basic bird identification skills and share a few interesting stories along the way.

Friday, May 14; 9-10 a.m.
Burnidge Forest Preserve
14N035 Coombs Rd., Elgin
FREE


Build a Butterfly House Workshop

Bring a hammer and your creativity to create a stylish butterfly house that will beautify your home. Participants will work with pre-cut wood and tacks to assemble this simple building project. We'll provide painting supplies so you can add your own special finishing touches!

Sunday, May 16; 10-11 a.m.
Creek Bend Nature Center
LeRoy Oakes Forest Preserve
37W700 Dean St., St. Charles
Fee: $15/house


Treasure Hunt Adventure (Virtual)

Hit the trails with your friends and family, and experience our Kane County forest preserves like never before! This interactive, virtual treasure hunt will feature fun facts, hidden clues, and completion prizes. A guided video will lead you to several locations within LeRoy Oakes Forest Preserve, where you'll learn about local ecology and then find secret markers to track your progress. When finished, be sure to stop by Creek Bend Nature Center to claim your reward!

Register to receive your first clue on Thursday, May 27
Creek Bend Nature Center
LeRoy Oakes Forest Preserve
37W700 Dean St., St. Charles
Fee: $5/group


Snake Search

Join us for a fun "snake safari" as we look for native snakes at beautiful Dick Young Forest Preserve. The program will begin with a brief lesson on snake identification, and then it's out into the field to look for some local examples. The naturalist will demonstrate different methods used in snake research, and will address some misconceptions people have about these reptiles.

Sunday, June 13; 9:30-10:30 a.m.
Dick Young Forest Preserve
2S326 Nelson Lake Rd., Batavia
FREE


Birding in the Summer Grasslands

Soak up some sunshine as we hike, look, and listen for breeding grassland birds this summer. District naturalists will cover basic bird identification skills and share a few interesting stories along the way.

Friday, July 9; 9-10 a.m.
Muirhead Springs Forest Preserve
42W797 Rohrsen Rd., Hampshire
FREE


Pop-Up Naturalist - The nature center comes to you in these pop-up programs at local campgrounds that just happen to be located within two extremely biodiverse forest preserves!

School of Fish Pop-Up

Drop into our Pop-Up Naturalist program to discover the remarkable world of fish! Learn techniques for identifying different fish species and get acquainted with the 36 species of fish that call Illinois home. Be amazed by the adaptations that help fish survive in a watery world and make your own fish craft to take home.

Saturday, July 24; 9:30-11 a.m.
Big Rock Campground
Big Rock Forest Preserve
46W499 Granart Rd., Big Rock
FREE

I Love Pollinators Pop-Up

There's a lot to love about pollinators! About one out of every three bites of food we eat depends on pollinators for production. Pollinators also play a critical role in the reproduction of 90% of flowering plants. Stop by the Pop-Up Naturalist exhibit to learn about our native pollinator species and discover things that you can do to help them succeed.

Saturday, Aug. 18; 9:30-11 a.m.
Paul Wolff Campground
Burnidge Forest Preserve
38W235 Big Timber Rd., Elgin
FREE


Nighttime Nature Series - Explore the nocturnal world with a naturalist! These "after hours" programs give us a glimpse into the life of wildlife that we usually don't get to see. We'll visit different forest preserves with different nocturnal habitats each month.

Moth Mania

Get out into the night to celebrate the National Moth Week! We'll learn about the unusual beauty, life cycles, and habitats of moths, and then head into the field to observe some local species up close with the aid of various moth attractants. A naturalist will also explain how you can become a real Citizen Scientist during National Moth Week by submitting moth observational data on iNaturalist - an easy to use smartphone app.

Saturday, July 20; 7:30-9 p.m.
Creek Bend Nature Center
LeRoy Oakes Forest Preserve
37W700 Dean St., St. Charles
Fee: $2/person

Secret Life of Bats

Kane County is home to many flying creatures, but none is as shrouded in mystery as the bat. Come out to experience nighttime in the forest preserve, learning about the mammalian winged creatures of the night and the important niche that bats fill in our local ecosystem. Be prepared to enjoy the acrobatic flight of some of our local bats as dusk settles over the land.

Thursday, Aug. 12; 7:30-8:30 p.m.
Creek Bend Nature Center
LeRoy Oakes Forest Preserve
37W700 Dean St., St. Charles
Fee: $2/person

Singing Insects

The late summer soundscape is amazingly beautiful and intricate. Venture out to explore the world of nocturnal singing insects with a naturalist. Before heading into the field, we'll learn about the calls of some of the more common evening music-makers, then use our new-found listening skills to get up close and personal with some of the songsters.

Wednesday, Aug. 11; 7-8 p.m.
Creek Bend Nature Center
Hampshire Forest Preserve
44W780 Allen Rd., Hampshire
Fee: $2/person


Rusty Rodeo

New in 2021: Two locations! There are underwater invaders in our local streams and rivers and we want you to help us find them! Our culprit is the Rusty Crayfish, a tiny aquatic creature that is an invasive species in Kane County. Help naturalists round up some rowdy Rusty Crayfish in an effort to reduce their numbers. Families are encouraged to join us in the water with dip nets to collect, identify and remove some Rusties. You might even find the biggest of these varmints or collect the greatest number of them. Prepare to get wet! Wear closed-toe shoes and clothes that can get muddy.

Saturday, Aug. 7; 11 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Glenwood Park Forest Preserve
1644 S. River St., Batavia
FREE

Saturday, Aug. 7; 11 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Ferson Creek Park
State Rte. 31, east of Wildrose Springs Dr., St. Charles
FREE


Passport to Adventure

Take an adventure this summer at area museums with the Passport to Adventure program. Participating sites at the Forest Preserve District of Kane County include Creek Bend Nature Center at LeRoy Oakes Forest Preserve in St. Charles, the Fabyan Villa Museum in Geneva, the Durant House Museum and Pioneer Sholes School at LeRoy Oakes Forest Preserve in St. Charles. The passport encourages children and their parents to visit a variety of history, nature, science and art museums to explore the people, events, and environment of the area. Children ages 4 through 12 will experience the world around them through exhibits and activities at each site they visit. The program is sponsored by the Illinois Parks & Recreation Association, the Kane-DuPage Regional Museum Association and a host of other partner agencies. The Passport program will be using the Adventure Lab digital geocaching app this year. More information about the program is available by calling 630-44-3190.

Save the Date: Harvest of the Acorn Moon Festival

Sunday, Sept. 26; noon - 3 p.m.
Burnidge Forest Preserve
38W235 Big Timber Rd., Elgin
FREE


Explore the Kane County Forest Preserves with a Naturalist-Led Hike

Feeling isolated and need to get outdoors with others? Longing to learn more about the natural world as you get your heart pumping? Bring your family, book club, or any other private group to the preserve of your choice for a guided hike with a District naturalist. We'll tailor the experience to the age and interests of your group -- keeping it healthy, fun and educational!

90 minutes
Any Kane County forest preserve
Fee: $25/group


COVID-19 precautions

  • Masks are required for all programs.
  • Maintain a minimum of 6 feet of distance between yourself and others.
  • Group sizes will be limited to 25 people indoors and 50 people outdoors, effective Jan. 26, 2021.
  • Stay home if you are sick, or if you have been in contact with someone who is ill.

trek with a naturalist

Get all your steps in during these evening hikes. Each month we'll take an invigorating two-hour hike at a different forest preserve. This program is designed for those who like active hiking. The naturalist will interpret the ecology of the preserve as we hike. Advance registration is required. Call 630-444-3190 or email programs@kaneforest.com to register.


Thursday, May 20; 6-8 p.m.
Hoscheit Woods Forest Preserve
6N327 IL Rte. 25, St. Charles
FREE

Thursday, June 17; 6-8 p.m.
Fabyan Forest Preserve (East entrance)
1500 Crissey Ave., IL Rte. 25, Geneva
FREE
Thursday, July 15; 6-8 p.m.
Fox River Bluff West Forest Preserve
5N753 IL Rte. 31, St. Charles
FREE

Thursday, Aug. 19; 6-8 p.m.
Muirhead Springs Forest Preserve
42W797 Rohrsen Rd., Hampshire
FREE


senior stroll

Seniors are invited to join District Naturalists each month on a leisurely stroll through a Kane County forest preserve. Note: No registration is required. For any questions, call 630-444-3190 or email programs@kaneforest.com. No refreshments will be served at this time.

Thursday, May 6; 10 a.m. - Noon
Glenwood Forest Preserve
1644 S. River St., Batavia
FREE

Thursday, June 3; 10 a.m. - Noon
Dick Young Forest Preserve (Nelson Lake Rd. entrance)
2S326 Nelson Lake Rd., Batavia
FREE

Thursday, July 1; 10 a.m. - Noon
Oakhurst Forest Preserve
1680 Fifth Ave., Aurora
FREE

Thursday, Aug. 5; 10 a.m. - Noon
Fitchie Creek Forest Preserve
39W993 Russell Rd., Elgin
FREE


Nurtured by nature

Experience the healing effects of nature. Studies show that time outdoors can relieve stress, boost your immune system, improve sleep, and contribute to overall good health. During this new monthly series, we'll incorporate gentle stretching, deep breathing, and a focus on awareness during these hikes designed to nurture the mind, body, and spirit. This program is for ages 18 and above.

Sunday, April 25; 9-10 a.m.
Bliss Woods Forest Preserve
5S660 Bliss Rd., Sugar Grove
FREE

Sunday, May 23; 9-10 a.m.
Tyler Creek Forest Preserve
401 Davis Rd., Elgin
FREE

Sunday, June 20; 9-10 a.m.
Johnson's Mound Forest Preserve
41W600 Hughes Rd., Elburn
FREE

Sunday, July 18; 9-10 a.m.
Burlington Prairie Forest Preserve
12N882 Engel Rd., Sycamore
FREE

Sunday, Aug. 15; 9-10 a.m.
Hannaford Woods Forest Preserve
441 Courtney Circle, Sugar Grove
FREE


Learn to Kayak

Our 2021 kayaking series begins with a beginner's lake-based paddling skills class. Participants will receive dry-land instruction on basic kayaking techniques from an experienced instructor and then hit the water to practice and expand upon these skills. Once you have mastered the basics of paddling, plan to join us for naturalist-guided kayaking excursions on the Fox River in the summer season. Boaters must be 16 years or older and be able to to hold breath under water while wearing a properly fitted life jacket; independently turn from a face down to a face-up position keeping head above water; effectively communicate with the instructor and other participants; and manage all mobility and personal care independently or with the assistance of a companion. We require registration at least one week prior to the program and full payment at the time of registration.

Sunday, May 23; 10 a.m. - Noon; <1 mile - Novice Skills Training
Grunwald Farms Forest Preserve
02S035 S. Lorang Rd., Elburn
Fee: $69/person (includes use of kayak, personal flotation device and paddle.)

Explore the Fox River by Kayak

Tour our local waterways during these paddling adventures! As the summer progresses, choose increasingly longer and more technical paddles for intermediate skill levels. Each session, participants will receive dry-land instruction on basic kayaking techniques from an experienced instructor. Then we'll take to the water for a naturalist-led exploration of the fascinating local ecology. Participants meet and park at the take-out location and are shuttled to the put-in. Choose any number of sessions; you can take one, two, or all five! Boaters must be 16 years or older, and be able to hold breath under water while wearing a properly fitted life jacket, independently turn from a face down to a face-up position keeping head above water, effectively communicate with the instructor and other participants, and manage all mobility and personal care independently or with the assistance of a companion. Registration is required at least one week prior to the program and full payment at the time of registration.

Sunday, June 13; 10 a.m. - 1 p.m.; 3-4 miles - Beginner
Voyageur Landing Forest Preserve
Elgin
Fee: $85/person (includes use of kayak, personal flotation device and paddle.) Or, provide your own kayak for $45/person

Sunday, July 18; 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.; 5-6 miles - Beginner/Intermediate
Ferson Creek Park
St. Charles
Fee: $85/person (includes use of kayak, personal flotation device and paddle.) Or, provide your own kayak for $45/person

Saturday, Aug. 14; 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.; 5-6 miles - Beginner/Intermediate
Ferson Creek Park
St. Charles
Fee: $85/person (includes use of kayak, personal flotation device and paddle.) Or, provide your own kayak for $45/person

Sunday, Sept. 12; 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.; 3-4 miles with portage - Intermediate
Glenwood Forest Preserve
Batavia
Fee: $85/person (includes use of kayak, personal flotation device and paddle.) Or, provide your own kayak for $45/person

Sunday, Oct. 3; 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.; 7 miles with portage - Intermediate
McCullough Park
Aurora
Fee: $85/person (includes use of kayak, personal flotation device and paddle.) Or, provide your own kayak for $45/person


Beginner's Backpacking Adventure

If you've always yearned to try backpacking, but didn't have the confidence to do it on your own, here's your chance to try a local weekend trip with a professional guide! Created especially for novice backpackers with limited outdoor experience, our adventure will include an "Introduction to Backpacking" training session, guided backpacking to the campsites, backpacking travelogues, naturalist-led hikes, chef-prepared meals, and evening campfires. Guiding our group will be an outdoor adventure leader from Rocktown Adventures and a naturalist from the Forest Preserve District of Kane County. Expect to hike 3-5 miles per day over gently rolling terrain with packs weighing up to 35 pounds. All meals and campsite rental are included. We'll supply group gear, cooking gear, food, first aid kit, etc.) and we'll provide a personal gear list to all registrants prior to the program. Give us a call at 630-444-3190 with any questions. See you on the trail! This program is for ages 18 and above.

Friday, June 4, at noon - Sunday, June 6 at noon
Freeman Kame-Meagher Forest Preserve (Camp Tomo Chi-Chi Knolls entrance)
40W095 Freeman Rd., Gilberts
Fee: $299/person


Become a Citizen Scientist

Want to make your own contribution to local ecology and conservation efforts? Take part in a Citizen Scientist project! We offer training classes for many citizen science efforts, including the Calling Frog Survey, Singing Insects Monitoring, and the Illinois Odonate Survey. You're sure to find a project well-suited to your interests and time availability. For the most up-to-date training workshop information, call 630-444-3190 or email programs@kaneforest.com.

COVID-19 precautions

  • Masks are required for all programs.
  • Maintain a minimum of 6 feet of distance between yourself and others.
  • Group sizes will be limited to 25 people indoors and 50 people outdoors, effective Jan. 26, 2021.
  • Stay home if you are sick, or if you have been in contact with someone who is ill.

The following classes are taught by experts in the field and offer in-depth information and learning opportunities about our local ecology. This award-winning program series is cosponsored by the Forest Preserve District of Kane County, the Geneva Park District, and the St. Charles Park District. These programs are for ages 16 and up. Advance registration is required. Call 630-444-3190 or fill out this form to register.


Witness Trees

Have you ever looked at a giant of a tree, perhaps a big oak, and wondered what historical events it experienced during its lifetime? Some of these impressive trees are called, "witness trees" and they have a special place in the history of Illinois. Surveyors in the early 1800s relied on witness, or "bearing," trees as landmarks for creating the earliest state land surveys and plat maps. During this program, we'll share the history of Illinois' witness trees and provide tools for you to discover witness tress in your own area. (Choose from one of the dates below.)

Tuesday, April 20; 7-8:30 p.m.
Creek Bend Nature Center
LeRoy Oakes Forest Preserve
37W700 Dean St., St. Charles
Fee: $10/person


Tiger Salamanders & Land Management

The St. Charles Park District has been documenting Ambystoma populations at Hickory Knolls for a number of years. St. Charles Park District Restoration Ecologist Ryan Solomon presents an engaging look at these amphibians, their reproductive behaviors, and how their presence influences restoration practices and land management decisions.

Wednesday, April 21; 7-8:30 p.m.
Hickory Knolls Discovery Center
3795 Campton Hills Rd., St. Charles
Fee: $10/person


Barns & Barn Owls

Barns have been a part of Midwest history since the early days of European settlement. Yet barn owls have inhabited this region and many others for thousands of years. We'll examine Tyto alba's niche in Illinois' ecological communities both past and present, with an emphasis on humans' impact on this dynamic species. (Choose from one of the times below.)

Saturday, April 24; 10-11:30 a.m.
Creek Bend Nature Center
LeRoy Oakes Forest Preserve
37W700 Dean St., St. Charles
Fee: $10/person

Saturday, April 24; 1-2:30 p.m.
Creek Bend Nature Center
LeRoy Oakes Forest Preserve
37W700 Dean St., St. Charles
Fee: $10/person


Spring Ephemerals

Gone almost in an instant -- these woodland wildflowers emerge, bloom and seed in a short period of time, usually before the leaves are out on the trees. During this walk-and-talk presentation, we'll identify species, explain why timing is key in their life cycle and relate the uses and folklore for which some flowers are famous.

Wednesday, April 28; 10-11:30 a.m.
Norris Woods Nature Preserve
Johnor Ave. & 3rd Ave., St. Charles
Fee: $10/person


Fish of the Fox

You've heard it. You've seen it. You might even visit it frequently. But how well do you know the Fox River -- specifically the fish life it hosts? Expect some surprises as St. Charles Park District Restoration Ecologist Ryan Solomon shares his experience with local game and nongame species.

Wednesday, May 19; 7-8:30 p.m.
Hickory Knolls Discovery Center
3795 Campton Hills Rd., St. Charles
Fee: $10/person


Bioreactor at the Meissner Prairie-Corron Forest Preserve

The Forest Preserve District of Kane County partnered with the Kane County Farm Bureau and Kane County to build a bioreactor at the Meissner-Corron Forest Preserve in 2018. The bioreactor is part of the Illinois Nutrient Strategy goals to reduce nitrogen and phosphorus that contribute to the Gulf hypoxia issue in the Gulf of Mexico. Learn about the bioreactor and other water quality work that is underway to better define where the sources of nitrogen and phosphorus come from in our rural areas and how we can all help.

Tuesday, June 8; 7-8:30 p.m.
Barbara Belding Lodge
Brewster Creek Forest Preserve
6N921 IL Rte. 25, St. Charles
Fee: $10/person


Sense of Place: Tekakwitha Woods Forest Preserve

From dance hall to spiritual retreat center, Tekakwitha Woods has had a fascinating history. Learn about the cultural history, including the decades when the Sisters of Mercy lived here. This guided hike will include discussion of the ecology of the beautiful area as well. From her decades as manager of Tekakwitha Woods Forest Preserve and four years living on-site, Naturalist Valerie Blaine will provide an in-depth look at Tekakwitha's past, present and future. Pam Otto, once Tek's oldest intern, will add some favorite memories as well.

Saturday, June 19; 7-8:30 p.m.
Tekakwitha Woods Forest Preserve
35W076 Villa Maria Rd., St. Charles
Fee: $10/person


Severe Weather

The Midwest is often subjected to severe and violent weather throughout the year. Professor Duane Friend from the U of I Extension will join us to discuss thunderstorms, lightning, tornadoes, and extreme temperatures. He'll also cover trends in extreme weather over time such as heavy rain, increase in tornado occurrence, extreme temperature fluctuations and flooding. Learn about these fascinating topics in the safety of the Lodge!

Saturday, July 31; 9:30-11 a.m.
Barbara Belding Lodge
Brewster Creek Forest Preserve
6N921 IL Rte. 25, St. Charles
Fee: $10/person


Sense of Place: LERoy Oakes Forest Preserve

LeRoy Oakes Forest Preserve has a long and storied history, serving as a homestead, farm, country estate, and religious retreat prior to being a Kane County natural area. Come and walk the land with a naturalist and a historian as we revisit the past and explore the still-standing structures that paint a picture of the people here before us. On the tour, we'll have the opportunity to visit Creek Bend Nature Center, Durant House Museum, Pioneer Sholes School, and two historic barns.

Thursday, Aug. 5; 6:30-8 p.m.
LeRoy Oakes Forest Preserve
37W700 Dean St., St. Charles
Fee: $10/person


Summer Tree Identification

This field class will begin with an introduction to the basic plant morphology needed for tree identification. Instructor Ben Katzen will lead a walk on the wooded trails, providing tips for identifying common native hardwood trees and describing several different tree identification techniques.

Sunday, Aug. 8; 9-10:30 a.m.
Tekakwitha Woods Forest Preserve
35W076 Villa Maria Rd., St. Charles
Fee: $10/person


Singing Insects

Join author and ecologist Dr. Carl Strang for a look at some of Illinois' noisiest insects. Beginning with an indoor presentation, we'll learn about the chorus of insects often heard as the sun sets. Next, we'll head outside to look for grasshoppers, cicadas, crickets and katydids.

Tuesday, Aug. 17; 8-9:30 p.m.
Creek Bend Nature Center
LeRoy Oakes Forest Preserve
37W700 Dean St., St. Charles
Fee: $10/person


Mighty Mosses

Despite their important role in ecology and botanical history, mosses are criminally understudied. How do mosses help soils and microorganisms? How many species are there? When it comes to the mosses of Kane County, we're not entirely sure. This program will deliver a comprehensive overview of what we do know about the mosses in our region, as well as tips and tricks for identifying them, and how we can begin filling the knowledge gap. Following the presentation, we'll go for a hike in the surrounding preserve to put our new ID skills to the test!

Sunday, Aug. 22; 10-11:30 a.m.
Creek Bend Nature Center
LeRoy Oakes Forest Preserve
37W700 Dean St., St. Charles
Fee: $10/person