2022 Community Habitat Symposium

2022 Community Habitat Symposium

To Register, Click Here

Creating a Future for Native Ecosystems
February 26, 2022

Joliet Junior College
1215 Houbolt Road
U Building
Joliet, IL 60431

There will be a 50/50 raffle to support the Kankakee Torrent Chapter’s Blooming Botanist Grant.  Recipients learn to identify plants in classroom and field, monitor plant populations and perform land management while receiving a stipend.  Help the Kankakee Torrent Chapter prepare the desperately needed next generation of botanists by supporting the Blooming Botanist Grant at the Symposium or online at the Illinois Native Plant Society website.

CoVid-19 Notice

All Participants must present proof of vaccination or a negative CoVid test taken within the last 72 hours and wear a mask at all times indoors, except when eating or speaking at the Podium.  Temperature will be checked at the door.

Updates to CoVid protocols will be provided if changes occur


Cost: $35 per person by February 5, $40 afterwards. Registration closes on February 24, 2020. Limit of 70 people, so register early.

Remote viewing is available as an option. Donation requested to support Symposium costs. Click HERE to register for remote viewing.

Registration includes:

  • Morning snacks: Coffee, tea, orange juice, fresh fruit bowl, cinnamon rolls, croissant, muffins and bagels, with butter and cream cheese
  • Lunch: Includes assorted Frito Lay products, assorted cookies, cans of Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, or Sierra Mist
  • Sandwich Choices:
    • Italian Ciabatta: Salami, Pepperoni, Provolone Cheese, Pesto, Red Onions, Spinach, Tomato, Leaf Lettuce, and Italian Herb Vinaigrette
    • Turkey, Bacon Cranberry: Smoked Turkey Breast, Dried Cranberries, Candied Walnuts, Leaf Lettuce and Sweet Onion Vinaigrette
    • Grilled Mediterranean Vegetable Wrap: Grilled Zucchini, Yellow Squash, Tomatoes, Red Bell Peppers Onions, Spinach, Feta Cheese and Red Pepper Hummus
    • Chicken Caesar Wrap: Grilled Chicken, Romaine Lettuce, Parmesan Cheese and Caesar Dressing

The symposium is made possible by the Kankakee Torrent Chapter of the Illinois Native Plant Society in collaboration with Joliet Junior College Department of Natural Science.


Register online at the Community Habitat Symposium Registration page. Space is limited, so register early.


Saturday, February 26

8:30Registration opensU Building Atrium
8:50Welcome: Joliet Junior CollegeU Building Auditoriums 1022-1026
9:00Introduction: Floyd Catchpole
Celebrating Grants and Grant Awardees: Andy Neill & Susanne Masi
U Building Auditoriums 1022-1026
9:30Break for Coffee & SnacksHallway outside Atrium
 Opening Address
9:45From Source to Sink: The Kankakee Torrent of 17,000 B.C.: Brandon CurryU Building Auditoriums 1022-1026
Morning Concurrent sessions
 At Home with Native Plants and AnimalsAcres of Prairie, Savanna, Woods and Work
 U Building Auditoriums: 1022-1026U Building: Room 1009
10:45Gardening for Small Mammals. John YungerNationally Important Natural Areas: Do we have them? Floyd Catchpole
11:45Nature Journaling: Seeing and Recording Nature. Carrie CarlsonSuppressing Native Grasses to Enrich Diversity: Juli Mason
12:30Visit vendors/lunch breakLocation    U Building Atrium and Concourse
Afternoon Concurrent Sessions
1:30Tough Native Trees for your Landscape – with Twig I.D. Dr. Sally WeeksAssessing Illinois rare and state-listed plant species and updating S-ranks: Paul B. Marcum
2:30Creating Community Pollinator Gardens and native plant perceptions: Iza Redlinski & Colleen McVaighPlants of Concern Rare Plant Monitoring: Gretel Kiefer
 Keynote Address
3:30Conservation, the power of Story: Cindy CrosbyU Building Auditoriums 1022-1026


Indiana Academy of Sciences and Illinois Native Plant Society


Opening Presentation

From Source to Sink: The Kankakee Torrent of 17,000 B.C.

The Kankakee Torrent changed the face of northeastern Illinois as glacial meltwater flowed across the landscape.  New studies have revealed many more details of this exciting time when mammoth and mastodont mingled with early humans on a dynamic and rapidly changing landscape. 


Track 1

At Home with Native Plants

This track is geared toward homeowners and the urban/suburban community interested in building green corridors through neighborhoods yard-by-yard, park-by-park. The topics covered will explain relationships between native plants and native animals, explore the threat of non-native invasive species and share opportunities for learning more about this subject.

Gardening for Small Mammals (John Yunger)

Your yard is an ecosystem.  How you landscape your yard influences who will live and forage there.  Who are the small mammals in my neighborhood, and what are they doing in my yard?  How can I move beyond a yard full of wildflowers to a yard bustling with small, furry creatures that will entertain and educate?

Nature Journaling: (Carrie Carlson)

Whether in your native garden, Forest Preserve or on vacation, nature journaling makes you look closely at the world and allows you to record what you see in a meaningful way.  Learn how to make your own nature journal, along with tips on drawing, supplies and the rewards of recording the world around you.

Tough Native Trees for your Landscape – with Twig I.D.: (Dr. Sally Weeks)

The native trees and shrubs of your landscape provide food and habitat for native birds and insects, as well as beauty.  Learn some of the favorite native landscape plants of Dr. Weeks, what they need to thrive, why she loves them and how to identify their twigs. 

Creating Community Pollinator Gardens and native plant perceptions (Iza Redlinski & Colleen McVaigh)

We are in an era of what was described as “insect apocalypse” with sharp declines of insects worldwide. The good news is that urban and suburban areas can be insect biodiversity hotspots harboring many bees, butterflies, beetles and other insects. Native plant gardens, personal as well as community driven ones, are a key to creating more urban habitat – but for the projects to be successful there are many important components that have to fall into space – both on the ecological and community levels. Join Iza and Colleen as they walk through these components that are also included in a free guide available at bit.ly/CommunityPollinatorGarden and discuss preliminary research into native plant perceptions.


Track 2

Acres of Prairie, Savanna, Woods and Work

This track is geared to large tract private landowners, public land managers, and people working on restoration projects on a larger scale.

Nationally Important Natural Areas: Do we have them? (Floyd Catchpole)

In the last 20 years, TNC, governments and other conservation organizations around the world have prioritized areas for species and ecosystem conservation.  Where do Grundy, Will, Kankakee & Iroquois counties fit into the global picture and how can this methodology determine local conservation priorities. 

Suppressing Native Grasses to Enrich Diversity (Juli Mason)

In many prairie restorations, native warm-season grasses are over-dominant.  Learn about some of the techniques being used to suppress native grasses and boost overall plant diversity.

Assessing Illinois rare and state-listed plant species and updating S-ranks: (Paul Marcum)

In Illinois, we have already lost over 100 plant species to extirpation. Many were lost long ago as Illinois was settled as a state but habitat loss, impact from invasive species, and other factors continue to this day. The state of Illinois tracks the occurrence and population status of over 300 rare plant species. Learn more about Illinois’ rare plant species and a new project, in collaboration with the Illinois Natural History Survey and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, that will assess and update NatureServe S-ranks. What are we doing to protect rare plant species in Illinois and what are we doing to reestablish them at natural areas?

Plants of Concern rare plant monitoring (Gretel Kiefer)

Plants of Concern community scientists have monitored rare plants in Northeastern Illinois for decades. Recently the program expanded to Southern Illinois.  Learn about what Plants of Concern does and the results of this long-term effort to gather information on our rare flora. 

Keynote Address: Cindy Crosby

Conservation: The Power of Story The future of our natural areas depends on how we communicate stories about the native plant community to others. Are you ready to tell your stories? Listen as Cindy talks about connecting and engaging others with the places we love, and take away ideas you can use.


About Our Speakers:

Carrie Carlson

Carrie Carlson is a National Board-Certified high school teacher. She earned an MFA in Scientific Illustration, and MA in printmaking, and is pursuing a PhD in Art + Design Education. Carrie teaches a variety of art classes for the Morton Arboretum, including nature journaling, watercolor, and drawing birds. She is an active member of the Guild of Natural Science Illustrators and a bit obsessed with bumblebees.

Floyd Catchpole

Land Management Program Coordinator, Forest Preserve District of Will County

Floyd received his B.S., botany from EIU and M.S. Biology, studying bison grazing effects at Kansas State.  He has worked as an ecologist at the Forest Preserve District of Will County since 2001, and been active in the Illinois Native Plant Society since 1989.  He is currently State Past-President of INPS. 

Cindy Crosby

Cindy Crosby is author, compiler or contributor to more than 20 books. Her most recent book is “Chasing Dragonflies: A Natural, Cultural, and Personal History” (Northwestern University Press, 2020). Her recent full-color book of photographs and essays is “Tallgrass Conversations: In Search of the Prairie Spirit” with co-author Thomas Dean (2019). She is also the author of “The Tallgrass Prairie: An Introduction” (Northwestern University Press, 2017). Cindy earned a master’s degree in natural resources from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. She is a Master Gardener, a steward for the Schulenberg Prairie at The Morton Arboretum and at Nachusa Grasslands, a Nature Conservancy site with bison in Franklin Grove, IL. Cindy blogs each week at Tuesdays in the Tallgrass at WordPress, and you can find classes and events at www.cindycrosby.com.

Dr. B. Brandon Curry

Geologist & Principal Research Scientist, Illinois State Geological Survey (Prairie Research Institute, UIUC)

Dr. Curry specializes in Quaternary Geology, the study of sediments and environments since the advent of continental glacier activity about 2.6 million years ago. He is the head of the Quaternary and Engineering Geology section at the ISGS. Currently, he is working with Will County on publishing reports to complement recent geologic mapping of the county, including a 3D model. Currently, he is compiling a traditional surficial geology map of the Dyer Quadrangle, located primarily in northeastern Will County.

Gretel Kiefer

Manager, Plants of Concern, Chicago Botanic Garden

Gretel manages Plants of Concern, a community science rare plant monitoring program designed to gather standardized data to detect population trends. The program is a collaboration of trained community scientists, land managers, and researchers using science to best conserve rare plants and habitats.

Paul B. Marcum

Paul B. Marcum, Associate Project Leader for Botany, Wetland Science Program at the Illinois Natural History Survey, Prairie Research Institute, University of Illinois

Paul Marcum is a native of Ohio but has worked professionally in many states in the U.S., the last 22 years of which have been as a botanist with the Illinois Natural History Survey (INHS) Wetland Science Program in Champaign, Illinois. In his current capacity, he co-coordinates environmental surveys conducted throughout the state. Paul’s background is in both taxonomy and ecology. He studied the genus Carex for his M.S. at Marshall University and continues to work on this difficult genus today. Paul has conducted extensive ecological surveys and research pertaining to rare species, natural areas, and natural communities. He is a past-President of the Illinois Native Plant Society, current President of the Forest Glen Chapter, and has served on the Illinois Endangered Species Protection Board’s (IESPB) Endangered Species Technical Advisory Committee (ESTAC) since 2011. Paul has written numerous proposal packets for listing and delisting Illinois species.

Julianne Mason

Restoration Program Coordinator, Forest Preserve District of Will County

Juli grew up on a vineyard in upstate New York, where she got the “outdoor bug”.  She has worked as an ecologist in the Chicago region for the past 20 years.  She works as a restoration ecologist for the Forest Preserve District of Will County.  She has a B.A. in Biology (as well as one in Japan Studies) from Earlham College in Richmond, IN, and a M.S. in Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences from UIUC.

Colleen McVaigh

Colleen leads Youth Conservation Action’s instructional capacity building in environmental education through the implementation of professional development workshops and instructional coaching. She ensures that YCA trainings are based on current research and best practices. She is a National Board certified teacher with more than 25 years of experience working with youth, and she holds a B.A. in History from the Lawrence University and a M.A in Curriculum and Instruction with a focus on literacy acquisition from DePaul University.

Izabella Redlinski

Conservation Ecologist, Field Museum

Iza works to create more urban habitat and preserve the biodiversity of the natural areas in Chicagoland.  Iza started her career with large scale restorations working to bring back native plant communities in Illinois. Increasingly she finds herself working in smaller urban areas from front and back yards to community spaces and studying the effect of these spaces and their influence on both people and nature, including ways in which these small natural mosaics could promote pollinator health.  In her time off you can find her in her own native garden or greenhouse where she dabbles in native plant propagation.

Dr. Sally S. Weeks

Purdue Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources

Sally Weeks is a happily retired Dendrologist and Botanist from Purdue’s Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, where she taught for 30+ years. She is the author of Native Trees of the Midwest and Shrubs and Woody Vines of Indiana and the Midwest in both book and CD format. When coerced out of retirement to speak, she is thrilled for the opportunity to once again teach about the subject she loves – TREES!

Dr. John Yunger

Full Professor, Environmental Biology

Governor’s State University

John teaches vertebrate zoology and has performed small mammal studies in northeastern Illinois for over 25 years, including studies of mammals along the urban/rural gradient and in remnant and restored natural communities.