The Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie in southern Will County, about 50 miles southwest of downtown Chicago, is the largest tallgrass prairie ecological restoration project east of the Mississippi River, and one of the great open space resources / biodiversity preserves in the greater Chicago region.
Each winter, the Visitor’s Center at Midewin hosts a lecture series on conservation, ecology, and the natural and cultural history of this 19,000-acre prairie, wetland, savanna, and woodland complex between Joliet and Wilmington. These presentations are free and open to the general public.
As noted by Wendy Tresouthick, Environmental Education Specialist at Midewin,
Don’t wait until spring to get back to the prairie, there is still plenty happening at Midewin! Our 2013 winter lecture series is a definite “don’t miss” this year. All lectures begin at 7pm at the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie Welcome Center (or Hotshot building if additional space is needed). Doors open at 6:30pm with refreshments provided by the Midewin Tallgrass Prairie Alliance.
Everglades of the North
The 2013 lecture series will kick-off on Thursday, January 17, with a showing of “Everglades of the North,” a new documentary film about the Grand Kankakee Marsh, once one of the largest wetlands in North America with some of the highest concentrations of wildlife on the planet. Discover what became of this vast ecosystem, and what the future holds for the area it once covered. We are lucky to have the producers of the film joining us to lead a discussion and question and answer session following the film.
Note: If you miss this showing of the film, you can see it at the Simpson Theater in the Field Museum on Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 6:00pm. Admission is free, but you will have to pay for parking.
Peacock Prairie: A Photographic Journey
On Thursday, January 31, join photographer Frank Mayfield who will giving an artful photographic tour of the Peacock Prairie at the James H. Woodworth Prairie Preserve, a tiny gem in the necklace of urban wilderness in the Chicago area. Comparisons of a mega prairie restoration effort like Midewin and a much smaller prairie remnant preservation of the Woodworth Prairie will be explored as well as addressing the question: “How do we to get people connect to prairie restoration/preservation efforts both big and small?”
Reptiles of Midewin
If prairie flora isn’t your love, perhaps a discussion (and a “meet and greet”) of the scaly critters will do the trick. On Thursday, February 14, Holly Zak, of Research 4 Reptiles, LLC will speak about a herpetological research study she is conducting at Midewin. Learn the importance of herpetological research and how you can assist in this exciting research study!
Northern Illinois Coal Mining 1850s-1974
On Thursday, February 28, Richard Joyce, former Wilmington High School teacher, will present “Northern Illinois Coal Mining 1850s-1974.” He will focus on the history of the coal industry in northern Illinois from the work force, to the mine types to the social life in the coal towns, labor struggles and major mine disasters. Though gone for several decades, the coal industry had a huge impact on northern Illinois, affecting both the physical landscape and the development of many local towns. Midewin sits near the northeastern edge of the great Illinois coal field, and some may argue the mining history of the area had something to do with the ultimate designation of this land as a National Tallgrass Prairie.
- March 14, “Birds Live in Poetry,” presented by naturalist John Elliot
- March 28, “The Rocks and Rolls of Midewin (Geology, of course!),” presented by Interpreter Keith Graham
- April 11, “Loggerhead Shrike Research at Midewin: A Grassland Bird in Crisis,” presented by Dr. Amy Chabot