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Learn About Wildlife at Species Spotlight Saturdays

Learn about our native frogs, bees, butterflies, dragonflies and bluebirds at our Species Spotlight Saturdays in March and April. For citizen scientists and other curious folk!

Citizen scientists collect important information about plants and animals, monitor changes in restoration sites, and add to the knowledge of local ecosystems. Data obtained from surveying in forest preserves is used to help evaluate FPWC ecological restoration successes and setbacks and is also being submitted to regional and national wildlife monitoring projects.

Dozens of volunteers in FPWC’s  citizen science program have been busy surveying bluebirds, frogs, butterflies and dragonflies in the preserves for past two years.  Recently added citizen science tracks on Bees and Bluebirds have made the Citizen Science program even more popular, and several volunteers are working in multiple tracks.We have had some exciting reports of uncommon species including a Cope’s Gray Tree Frog and a Rusty Snaketail Dragonfly, both at Deer Run Forest Preserve. Both of these species are indicators of a healthy ecosystem.

Detailed and comprehensive species inventorying is a major need at FPWC that volunteers are now filling. Over the past few years several models for citizen science have been developed to meet varied goals. All models share the same basic strategy, however, in which volunteers collect and share data that can be analyzed by regional scientists, local agencies, or both. FPWC Natural Resource Manager, Mike Groves, explains, “We are employing all the most advanced science-based restoration strategies available to us, but the only way to know how well we are succeeding is to have people out here monitoring what species our restorations are supporting.”

Several natural science experts who came to FPWC in 2015 and 2016 to lead workshops on butterflies, dragonflies/damselflies, bees,  and frogs will be returning in 2017. We are calling our 2017  informational sessions Species Spotlight Saturdays: a series of  free “edutainment” sessions that will expand your knowledge of native species and their roles in our natural communities, and will help you decide if citizen science plant and animal monitoring projects are right for you. Attending the educational workshops does not obligate you to register to become a monitor. All interested individuals are encouraged to attend and learn more about our native species and the need to study and protect them. All sessions will be held from 9:00 -11:00 am at FPWC Headquarters, 5500 Northrock Drive, Rockford.  RSVP for all sessions at Your RSVP will ensure that we have educational materials for you.

2017 Species Spotlight Saturdays  (Click on workshop title to register!)

January 28           Frogs and Toads presented by Jamie Forberg of The Chicago Academy of Sciences /Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum

March 11             All About Bluebirds presented by Neil McLaughlin, Susan Heinke, Elizabeth Franck

March 18             Dragonflies and Damselflies presented by Barbara Williams, Naturalist and Odonata Citizen Scientist

March 25             Butterflies of Illinois presented by Doug Taron, Ph.D., Director of the Illinois Butterfly Monitoring Network

April 8                   Bumblebees and Other Native Pollinators presented by Barbara Williams, Naturalist and Illinois Bee Spotter

April 22               Rare and Endangered Native Plants of Winnebago County presented by Ed Cope, Restoration Ecologist at Natural Land Institute


Additional workshops will be added to this schedule. Most workshops begin around 9:00 am and finish by 11:00.  Please check the Volunteers page on this website as workshop dates get closer to confirm schedule. We request that you register for all workshop sessions so we can ensure that we have adequate supplies of resource materials available. All the above trainings will take place at Forest Preserves of Winnebago County’s headquarters, 5500 Northrock Drive, Rockford, IL, 61103.