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The Field Museum Co-Sponsors Successful Wild Things Conference on March 5, 2011

Photo: Laura Milkert

On a recent, snowy, late winter Saturday nearly 1300 dedicated stewardship volunteers, conservation professionals, and nature lovers packed the University of Illinois at Chicago Student Center for the fourth biennial Wild Things: A Chicago Wilderness Conference for People and Nature.  Designed to provide learning opportunities and foster a network of conservation-minded folks in the Chicago region, Wild Things offered participants more than 60 small and large group sessions. The presentations crossed a spectrum of nature-related topics from “Prairie Restoration” to “Back Yard Gardening for Birds and Butterflies” to “Using Social Media”, providing something for nearly everyone. 

The success of the conference was due in large part to the leadership of the Field Museum’s ECCo Urban Conservation Team. Behind the scenes, ECCo staff assisted in organizing, recruiting speakers, providing scholarships to those unable to afford the registration, and promoting the conference to a diverse audience.

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The documentary features ECCo's environmental education work as a modern day example of Aldo Leopold's legacy in the Chicago Region
Laurel Ross, ECCo Urban Conservation Director and Chicago Wilderness Chair, welcomed participants and set the tone for the day. ECCo staff shared knowledge and expertise in four presentation sessions as well. Dr. Doug Stotz presented on his research, “Important Bird Areas for Landbird Migration in the Chicago Region” as well as “Climate Change Impacts on Wildlife: Birds in the Chicago Region as a Case Study”. Rebecca Schillo and Dr. Abigail Derby-Lewis presented “The Hunt for Thismia Americana: How a Regional-Level Plant Survey Can Drive Conservation” and “Climate Change Considerations for Developing Regional Plant List Guidelines”, respectively. Erika Hasle gave a much-appreciated talk on “Demystifying Mapping: How to Make Useful Natural Area Maps Without all the Gear”.

Curt Meine, Director for Conservation Biology and History at the Center for Humans and Nature, gave the keynote presentation about the production of his film, “Green Fire: The Legacy of Aldo Leopold in the Chicago Region”. The documentary features ECCo's environmental education work as a modern day example of Aldo Leopold's legacy in the Chicago Region.  In his address Mr. Meine referred to Chicago Wilderness as "the premier urban-based community conservation organization in the world". By looking around the packed auditorium that day, it would be difficult to argue otherwise.