Blogs & Videos: Environment & Conservation

Campaigning for CHANGE! Don't be Shallow - Vote for Mallow

In our last video we got to see one of the rarest flowers in the world blooming in its habitat for the first time in over a decade. It's the Kankakee mallow (Iliamna remota), under threat of extirpation and completely unique to Illinois... and we want to make it the official state flower! Field outreach coordinator Robb Telfer kicked off the campaign and we're TAKIN' IT TO THE STREETS. It's an election year, after all. 

This flower only grows in the wild on a single tiny island... in Illinois.

The Kankakee Mallow (Iliamna remota) is a special little flower. The only place in the world it's found in the wild is on a single small island in the middle of the Kankakee River in Illinois - but until last year, it hadn't been seen in over a decade, and was feared to be extinct. Thanks to volunteer efforts, we got to be some of the first to see it back in bloom!

Aerial view of dense green treetops

A big step in the 300-year quest to find every tree species in the Amazon

How many different kinds of trees grow in the Amazon? This may sound like an impossible question to answer—we’re talking about the most biodiverse rainforest on Earth. Hundreds of thousands of different plants and animals live there, with more being discovered every year.

Group of people posing next to river

Hitting the Pavement to Save Endangered Plants

What if a rare plant is living right in your backyard? Well, it just might be. But how do you find out it’s there, and what can you do with that information? Right now, some local endangered plant species are making a surprise comeback. They grow in the Calumet region, which includes the southern part of Chicago and northern Indiana. Two kinds of sedge, a grass-like flowering plant, recently set down roots on a field of slag. This hard material comes from making steel and is usually seen as toxic to nature.  

Saving a River from Poison

The Putumayo River is home to some of the purest water in the Amazon basin—but maybe not for long. The huge Amazon tributary forms the border between Colombia and Peru, draining from giant Amazonian forests, orchid-covered peatlands, and, most presciently, soil bearing traces of gold. But mining that gold has the unfortunate side-effect of poisoning the water with mercury.

With an emphasis on culture, a new kind of nature trail emerges along Chicago’s south lakefront

North of the Margaret Burroughs Beach, a Caracol-inspired gathering space with a Mesoamerican hop scotch game is be part of a new trail in the Burnham Wildlife Corridor. This is one of five sites installed in by teams of artists and community-based organizations whose designs are inspired both by local ecology, as well as the heritage of communities adjacent to the south lakefront.

Fifth grade students begin their nature exploration hike during their Mighty Acorns field trip to Eggers Grove.

Spiders, Leaves, and Self: What Children Find Through Nature Exploration

“Millipedes! Look - Spiders! Roly Pollies! Eww! Cool! What is this!?” Almost out of breath, a group of nine fourth graders excitedly gather around a fallen tree, relentlessly exploring every aspect of it with magnifying glasses and their increasingly dirt-covered little hands. Barely a month into my AmeriCorps internship at the Field Museum and I was suddenly in charge of making sure that hundreds of elementary students were having meaningful and educational experiences in nature—something I had never been tasked with before.

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