Preserve People: a photographic series

People connect to the forest preserves in diverse and powerful ways. It may be science, history, aesthetics, spirituality, learning, healing, recreation or simply love of nature. This series of photos created for Nature’s Notebook captures the people and the nature of their connections.

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Joyce Gibbons―

The ability to have access to some of the few remaining acres of undeveloped land in the county is absolutely essential to me. A solitary walk along a woodland paths brings me joy and a quiet sense of tranquility. I find renewal and a reconnection to my spiritual beliefs as I escape for a time from the demands of everyday life to discover nature’s treasures – the songs of warblers or the glimpse of an iridescent damselfly – while listening to a gentle breeze rustling through the forest foliage. Because the preserves have been an important part of my life, I was glad to find a volunteer opportunity with the Forest Preserves of Winnebago County that fit my interests and talents. My first foray into volunteer work was through its Citizen Science monitoring program. FPWC was looking for volunteers to monitor and photograph the dragonfly (and damselfly) populations in the preserves. It seemed a perfect fit for me and a way to support the forest preserves, which are vital to the community. I could monitor dragonflies, which have been a source of fascination to me since childhood, while also doing the two things I enjoy most: hiking and photographing nature. I started by “adopting” Deer Run Forest Preserve and began exploring its nearly 600 acres in earnest. Since 2015 I have confirmed the presence of fifty different species of dragonflies and damselflies at Deer Run and learned much about these fascinating insects’ life cycles and habits. While concentrating on dragonflies, I’ve also been able to observe countless species of birds, turtles, snakes, frogs, and whatever else crossed my path during my hiking adventures. An unforeseen result is that I am now sharing what I have learned about dragonflies with other organizations and making new friends along the “path.”