Laona Heights Sugar River Colored Sands Sugar River Two Rivers Ferguson Hartley Memorial Trask Bridge Four Lakes Pecatonica River Pecatonica Wetlands Crooked River Grove Creek Seward Bluffs Klehm Forest Preserve Severson Dells Fuller Memorial Cedar Cliff Indian Hill Hinchliff Memorial Kilbuck Bluffs Trailside Kishwaukee Gorge South Kishwaukee Gorge North Rockford Rotary Kishwaukee River Oak Ridge Blackhawk Springs Deer Run Espenscheid Memorial McKiski County Line Kieselburg Roland Olson Stone Bridge Clayton Andrews Ledges Hononegah J. Norman Jensen Millrace Isle Macktown Atwood Homestead Forest Preserve Headquarters

2019 Service Award Recipient Profiles

Mark Freiman – Golf Maintenance Manager, 5 Years

What are the essentials of your role at FPWC?  To provide a quality golfing experience for the FPWC.

How has your role has changed?     Through departmental changes I am now responsible for more than one golf course.

What insight or ‘aha moment’ have you gained?  Finding creative ways to be more efficient with less staff.

What you would like others to understand about your job?  There is a lot more involved than mowing grass in this profession. It is a seven day a week job that is dictated by weather conditions to determine agronomic and cultural practices.

What would you like to be remembered for?  Being involved in the overdue bunker renovation process.

Additional you’d like to share about history and/or future goals?  To continue to improve the overall golfing experience at the FPWC.

 

Kim O’Malley – Human Resources Manager/Volunteer Coordinator, 5 Years

What are the essentials of your role at FPWC?  My main responsibility is the recruitment and placement of our workforce and volunteers, which includes screenings, verifications, interviewing, orientation, benefits administration and compliance.

How has your role has changed?     I began as a part-time Volunteer Coordinator in 2014, and I’m currently a full-time Human Resources Manager and Volunteer Coordinator.

What insight or ‘aha moment’ have you gained?  There are so many learning moments!  Every day I expect the unexpected (which is the beauty of this position).  Flexibility is key! 

What you would like others to understand about your job?   There is more reporting and paperwork than one could ever imagine! I enjoy being a resource for our staff – I’m here to serve.  I love this quote: “HR – the unofficial psychologist, event planner, peacemaker, lawyer and problem solver.” 

If you wrote a book about your time at FPWC what would the title be?  Change is Inevitable; Misery is Optional, or maybe Happy People are Productive People.

 

Eric Bednar – Natural Resource Technician, 25 years

What are the essentials of your role at FPWC?   Willingness to train, teach, share knowledge, complete any task and help to educate others so they grow in their careers. Act as a steward of the forest preserve plant and animal communities.

How has your role has changed?   The leadership, management priorities, tasks and staffing have changed. Different methods are being used to steward the natural resource operation.     

What insight or ‘aha moment’ have you gained?   Your role will change. Adapt, take pride, work to improve the task and represent the Forest Preserve in a positive light.

What you would like others to understand about your job?   The agency’s ability to retain qualified staff is vital to the function of the Forest Preserve. Without it, years of work will be lost.     

What would you like to be remembered for?   My care and compassion for the stewardship of the forest preserves’ natural land.

Additional you’d like to share about history and/or future goals?   I always have personal goals and drive to better myself.

 

Del Johnson, Ranger (North Area), 25 years

What are the essentials of your role at FPWC?   First line of public impression; maintenance to prepare preserves for recreational and educational use.

How has your role has changed?   With an ever-changing economic and social climate, I have adapted to work roles and tasks beyond job title/description to help us stay viable.

What insight or ‘aha moment’ have you gained?   If you fight fire with fire and get paid to do it, are you really at work? Or on work vacation? Mind you it’s physically challenging!

What you would like others to understand about your job?    I am in an entry-level position with an advanced understanding and would like to increase my role. I am very experienced with prescribed burning and play a large role in FPWC’s natural resource burning program. I also make a strong contribution to the deer management program.

What would like to be remembered for?   I am genuinely valued by my peers.

If you wrote a book about your time at FPWC what would the title be?  “The Only Life I Know”.

Additional you’d like to share about history and/or future goals?   I have more than 22 years as a certified Arborist.  My history with FPWC goes back to June 1987 when I began hanging out at the Pecatonica maintenance shop. I was hired part-time on 3/16/92.  Became full-time on 11/28/94.  I was 4’8” in when I was planted here, now 5’4” at age 46.  Like a storm hardened tree my growth has been weathered and deliberate refining my character over a quarter-century.

 

 Mike Groves – Natural Resource Manager, 25 Years

What are the essentials of your role at FPWC?    I oversee the day to day operations of the Resource staff. I help oversee our natural areas and manage those areas the best I can.

How has your role has changed?      I started at the bottom as a summer employee doing maintenance work while going to college. I tried to work in every department and learn about the operations of the district. I always tried to do more than expected and learn new skills every day. I now manage the Resource Department where I can use my education and knowledge to help preserve and protect our natural areas. I still try to help out every department and do whatever is needed to support the district and our users.

What insight or ‘aha moment’ have you gained?    I do not have that magical aha moment. I never say I can’t do something. I just try to do as much as I can to make our preserves just a little better each day. I have made a lot of mistakes, I try to learn something of each of them and continue on doing my job. I see something that needs doing and I find a way to accomplish that task.

What you would like others to understand about your job?    I do a lot more than just natural resource work. I am always willing to help other departments succeed and provide the best service to our users. I personally don’t look for any accolades just trying to do what is needed.

What would you like to be remembered for?     I would like to be best remembered for all the great restoration projects we have done, the countless improvement to our properties to save, protect, and increase the biodiversity of our entire county. I have had the privilege of working with many great individuals that are just as much responsible for our success than I am. The title of my book would be “A Blessed Life”.