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Published: April 27, 2011

ECCo Staff Help Bring Rare Plant Monitoring Program to Calumet

Rebecca Collings, Conservation Ecologist, Keller Science Action Center

Volunteers learn techniques for rare plant monitoring. Photo: Rebecca Schillo

On April 16, 2011 twenty volunteers gathered at the Baker House in Michigan City, IN to learn about rare plant monitoring with the Chicago Botanic Garden’s Plants of Concern program. The Field Museum’s Environment, Culture, and Conservation (ECCo) Division played a key role in connecting the Chicago Botanic Garden staff to conservation partners in Northwest Indiana, such as the Shirley Heinze Land Trust and Save the Dunes, and in bringing the Plants of Concern Program to the Calumet Region.  

Volunteers that completed the April 16th training will join hundreds of volunteer citizen science monitors across the Chicago region to collect standardized, regional data on rare plant populations. Over time this data provides important information on plant population trends and how rare plants respond to natural resource management practices. The Plants of Concern program started in 2001 and has trained over 600 volunteers to monitor 252 species at 273 different sites across the region.

The Plants of Concern program has had intermittent participation in Northwest Indiana, which harbors some of the most significant biodiversity in the Chicago Region. ECCo actively works with partners to preserve and protect natural resources and biodiversity in Northwest Indiana through the Calumet Stewardship Initiative and is pleased to have been a part of the effort to reinvigorate the Plants of Concern program in Indiana.

Volunteers practice a pacing exercise as part of the Plants of Concern training. Photo: Rebecca Schillo


Rebecca Collings

Rebecca is a Chicago native who specializes in the ecology and restoration of Midwestern natural communities and in connecting people to local conservation and stewardship efforts.  At The Field Museum Rebecca teaches plant identification courses for local community groups, leads and participates in volunteer stewardship workdays, and assists partners in developing management plans for their natural areas.  She works to make the museum's collections accessible and relevant to the local conservation community through vplants (www.vplants.org), Keys to Nature (fieldmuseum.org/keystonature/), and rapid color guides.  Additionally, her professional interests include Midwestern flora, native pollinators, and native landscaping. Rebecca has also worked with the Chicago Park District as a Volunteer Stewardship Coordinator and the Michigan Natural Features Inventory as a Field Ecologist.