Our New 2022 Community Read

Over Our Heads

Our Past 2021 Community Read!

     January & February       2021        March & April

Why a Community Read?
The crises we face call for us to pull together – reconnect as a community – to address them. One way to do that is to read together a book that inspires us to common, effective action.

Why Nature’s Best Hope?
This book advocates for a simple solution that is powerful, effective, and won’t go out of style. It’s full of information that the author presents with engaging examples and persuasive explanations. It also reads quickly and makes a useful reference book.

Why you?
Because you – and I -- have been willing to live with far less beauty and wellness than our hearts desire. Now you – and I – can learn new ways of thinking and acting that will lead us into more respectful, effective and beautiful ways of living in our one world.

Get the book, meet the author!

Learn how to get a copy of Nature's Best Hope and watch a video with author Douglas Tallamy.
LEARN MORE

Presentations

Getting Started with Native Gardening
Mary Alice Masonick
February 6 • 2:00
If you’ve decided to add native plants to your landscape – or if you’re considering – it will be helpful to know some basics. Mary Alice will present information that can ease your transition into this powerful way of gardening. For example, how do you buy native plants? What do you need to bear in mind in making choices? What equipment do you need? What terminology will you encounter? What can you expect to be different when gardening with natives? By attending this session, you can learn from an experienced native gardener how to choose and prepare a site, which plants to use, where to get them, and how to care for them.
Watch the video and get the information you need to start preparing >Click for the Conservation@Home Landscaping Brochure. >Click for Pat Hill's plant lists. >Click for plants recommended by Midwest Groundcovers. >Click for list of resources for getting started with native plants. >
Invasive Plants
Corey Begalka
February 8 • 2:00
If you’re thinking about how you might alter your landscaping, one issue that will pop up is how to deal with invasive exotic plants. 

Who are these backyard bullies? Why should we care? How do they make a difference? 

Corey will guide you through the what’s, why’s and how’s of plants that are non-native and invasive in our area and address their impact on our ecosystem. He will identify some of the major culprits and what we can do about them. Whether in your own backyard, your local park or forest preserves, invasive plants continue to change the quality and health of our native plant communities.
Watch the video to learn how to identify and cope with the invasive plants you encounter >
Woodland Gardens
Valerie Blaine
February 10 • 7:00
If you’re considering planting native plants in a shady portion of your landscape – or if you have woodland on your property -- you’ll want to learn more about the woodland plants that thrive here. Some of our most beautiful early spring flowers grow in the shade of taller plants and trees. There are also grasses and sedges, ground-covers -- and plants that bloom in a variety of colors -- that grow easily in shaded areas.

Our presenter, Valerie Blaine, has a yard in a forest. So in addition to her broad and deep professional background, she has first-hand knowledge of what it’s like to live with these lovely natives. Valerie will share her knowledge of how to plant and maintain a shady section of your yard, and how to work with your existing woodland.
Watch the video and learn to bring some of the plants and ideas from the forest preserves into your yard. Enjoy Valerie’s photos and suggestions for how to Start In YOUR Yard. >
Prairie Gardens
Jim Kleinwachter
February 18 • 2:00
If you’re considering planting native plants in a sunny portion of your landscape, you’ll want to learn more about the prairie plants that thrive here. They’re easy to grow and require little care once they’re established. There are prairie grasses and sedges for your consideration, as well as prairie plants that bloom with vibrant colors.

In this session, Jim Kleinwachter will show you a variety of native plants that grow in full sun -- where there are six hours or more of direct sun – and help you think about what establishing a prairie garden requires. He’ll also talk about the fact that there are native-plant solutions for the different kinds of conditions you may have in your yard -- sun, shade, wet or dry. In addition, there will be time for questions and answers with this expert consultant.
Watch the video to find information and inspiration to get started with sunny native plants.>
Growing Native Plant Communities
Rory Klick
February 25
If you’re a gardener and are considering adding some native plants to your palette, you might be asking: How is gardening with natives different from typical landscape gardening? What are the benefits and bonuses of incorporating natives in your garden? After enjoying Rory Klick’s presentation, you’ll have a much better idea. You’ll hear a different way of thinking about gardening that takes into account the way plants naturally grow together.

Register to hear Rory Klick talk about using Upper Midwest native plant communities as models for habitat gardens. Learn what a plant community is, what a habitat garden is, and why these concepts are important. Get acquainted with some specific plant communities and learn to evaluate a community’s fit with the conditions on your site. Having a palette of suitable plants can help you be successful as a native gardener. Beginners and old hands will find this session helpful.
Watch the video to find out how easy it can be to decide what to plant where.>Click for outline of the presentation, including plant list.>Click for copy of the slides.>
The Biodynamic Engine That Drives Our Ecosystem
Deb (Perryman) McMullen
February 27 • 10:00
If you are considering planting native plants, you may be wondering whether it’s really worth it. Can it really make all that much difference? Join this session and let Deb McMullen expand your thinking. She is an esteemed educator and scientist whose enthusiasm and skills allow her to engage her audience and examine these important questions.

Our answers to these questions shape the very “nature” of our impact upon the place we live: 

Landscape as usual? Miss out on the many benefits of reconnecting.
Plant native plants? Reconnect our yards to a system that draws down carbon, replenishes groundwater, prevents run-off, builds soil, feeds many, offers safe passage and provides shelter
for those who share our space.
Watch the video and allow this eminent U-46 educator to reveal the powerful hidden relationships you can engage when you cooperate with nature in your landscaping.>

Click for a copy of the slides for this presentation.
The Magic of Healthy Soil
Don Wilkin
MARCH 6 • 10:00
Interest in soil is building -- among researchers, farmers, writers and ecologists. We are learning the value of healthy soil not just in agriculture, but also in our neighborhoods.  Don't miss this presentation which will introduce you to the difference between soil and dirt, amaze you with the vast population of organisms that builds soil, reveal what actually feeds plants, and clarify the relationship between soil and our native plants. If you've never thought about soil, this session is for you.
Watch the video and learn  about the incredible world beneath our feet.>Click here to get the text of the presentation.>
Landscaping with Native Plants
Karen Sherman and Jean Muntz
MARCH 15 • 7:00
Now that you’ve decided to reduce the amount of grass and use more native plants, you may be wondering if this means the yard will need to look like a prairie. Karen and Jean, experienced designers, will show and talk about ideas for using native plants, trees and shrubs in a way pleasing to the eye. Planting styles, paths, borders, water bowls, dry creek beds, even boulders and stumps can be used to enhance the beauty of your space, no matter the size, while simultaneously providing food, shelter and safe passage to all who share it.
Watch the video to get ideas for creating a pleasing landscape using native plants.>Click for list of resources for landscaping with native plants.>Click for Healthy Hedges brochure.>Click for Healthy Hedges poster.>
Rain Gardens and Wetlands
Trish Beckjord
MARCH 20 • 10:00
While you are not likely to have a wetland on your property, you can certainly create a successful rain garden! Doing so will help reduce the amount of rainwater runoff that enters our storm sewer system. This helps protect and improve the quality of our creeks and rivers, and enhances the quality of life of our communities. It also helps attract more butterflies and other pollinators to your home garden. Trish has created her own rain garden at home, and has helped many others understand the features and benefits of these special gardens. She will walk you through the simple how-to and offer more great resources to help!
Watch the video to learn how you too can treat rainwater as a resource in your garden.>Click for list of resources for rain gardens.>Click for list of plants for rain gardens.>
Our Original Ecosystem: The Oak Savanna
Jim Kleinwachter
APRIL 7 • 2:00
What kind of landscape did we displace with our farms, and then our neighborhoods? Although Illinois is the Prairie State, this particular part of the state was largely oak savanna. What is an oak savanna? Where can I experience one? Might it be a good model for planting natives in my yard? Jim will bring his vast experience to answering these questions and providing ideas for what plants to use if you want a mix of sun and shade in your yard.
Watch the video to learn about re-introducing some of the plants that thrived here when this land was oak savanna.>
Meet the Author
Doug Tallamy in recorded video
May 4 • 7:00
Join us to view a video presentation by Dr. Doug Tallamy, the author of our shared read, 'Nature’s Best Hope.' Dr. Tallamy is a gifted presenter, who will engage you and get you thinking about things in a new way. The video is the book’s message come to life. If you haven’t seen him present, treat yourself to this session!
Register here to see Doug share his passion for the ideas in his book.>
Start In Your Yard
Jean Muntz and Nancy Lamia
June 10 • 7:00
If you’ve been participating in the Community Read of Doug Tallamy’s book Nature’s Best Hope, you’ve been hearing the name Start In Your Yard. In this session, we’ll talk a bit about what it is, what’s happening, and how you might collaborate. This can be a forum for sharing visions of SIYY, for elaborating them, and imagining our communities as places of beauty, balance and well-being. Join us as we play with ideas for extending the joy of discovery and creation to a wider and wider community.
Register  to see whether you might want to participate in Start In Your Yard.>

DISCUSSIONS

Discussion with Gary Swick
JANUARY 23 • 2:00
This is an opportunity to interact with an educator and naturalist who has more than thirty years of experience thinking about the issues discussed in Nature’s Best Hope. He has been teaching and putting into practice the solutions the book advocates. Having successively landscaped five properties of his own with native habitat, Gary brings invaluable experience to this discussion of Doug Tallamy’s ideas.
Register Now >
Discussion with Kim Haag
JANUARY 25 • 7:00
Participate in this discussion, and you will be interacting with an educator and naturalist who is actively restoring and maintaining native habitat in local forest preserves. Kim has done the same on her own property, and so has first-hand experience with what Dr. Tallamy is advocating in his book. Come prepared for a lively discussion of lively ideas.
Register Now >
Discussion with Sue Harney
february 4 • 2:00
Interact with Sue Harney, who has been deeply involved with the Open Space initiative in Dundee Township. Serving as the Dundee Township Supervisor, she oversaw this and other projects that have helped keep Dundee green. She brings a wealth of knowledge of how to move forward with ideas such as the ones Dr. Tallamy advocates.

(NOTE: This session was changed. Scheduling conflicts required moving June Keibler to April 20.)
Register Now >
Discussion with Gary Swick
february 13 • 2:00
This is an opportunity to interact with an educator and naturalist who has more than thirty years of experience thinking about the issues discussed in Nature’s Best Hope. He has been teaching and putting into practice the solutions the book advocates. Having successively landscaped five properties of his own with native habitat, Gary brings invaluable experience to this discussion of Doug Tallamy’s ideas.
Register Now >
Discussion with  Nancy Lamia and Kathleen Hamill
MARCH 11 • 2:00
If you'd like to discuss this book with two people who have been (and still are) learning about native plants in their own yards, join us to talk about the impact of the ideas in this book. Bring your questions, ideas, experiences --  and enjoy the exchange. We're all in this together, and Dr. Tallamy's book provides information, ideas, and inspiration for moving forward  into a 'more beautiful world our hearts know is possible.' (wording from Charles Eisenstein)
Register Now >
Discussion with Kim Haag
APRIL 12 • 7:00
Participate in this discussion, and you will be interacting with an educator and naturalist who is actively restoring and maintaining native habitat in local forest preserves. Kim has done the same on her own property, and so has first-hand experience with what Dr. Tallamy is advocating in his book. Come prepared for a lively discussion of lively ideas.
Register Now >
Discussion with June Keibler
APRIL 20 • 3:00
One of the founding mothers of our Northern Kane County Wild Ones chapter, June brings her wealth of experience and her passion for restoring the land to any discussion of the ideas Doug Tallamy advocates. She will engage you in thinking about the importance of the ideas in Nature’s Best Hope, and infuse them with an immediacy born of her deep concern for how we relate to the land where we live.
Register Now >
Discussion with Nancy Lamia and Kathleen Hamill
June 16 • 7:00
If you'd like to discuss this book with two people who have been (and still are) learning about native plants in their own yards, join us to talk about the impact of the ideas in this book. Bring your questions, ideas, experiences -- and enjoy the exchange. We're all in this together, and Dr. Tallamy's book provides information, ideas, and inspiration for moving forward into a 'more beautiful world our hearts know is possible.' (wording from Charles Eisenstein)
Register now >

Meet our experts!

Mary Alice Masonick
I have been planting natives in my yard, my neighborhood and at my church for almost twenty years. While my career was in nursing, I realized that my passion for health had expanded to include nursing the Earth. Twenty-five years ago, I began volunteering in the forest preserves and I served as volunteer steward of Burnidge Forest Preserve for ten years. After retiring from nursing in 2012, I completed the coursework to become a Kane County Certified Naturalist.
Corey Begalka
Elgin native, Corey Begalka, has a background in biological science with a degree in Zoology from S.I.U. He considers his mentor to be ECC professor, Robert Steinbach, to whom he became a teaching lab assistant and helper in his aquatic nursery.

After years of inside laboratory work, Corey left the corporate setting in favor of work that would take him closer to nature. Now Corey describes himself as a “forest comber” – one who assesses a natural area, identifies invasive plants encroaching upon natives, creates an inventory, develops a restorative plan, and removes the offending plants, shrubs, and/or trees.

He has been an independent plant seeker and seed collector for the Chicago Botanic Garden. He guides hikes (day or nighttime), focused on nature and plant identification, as well as what he terms, meditative, eco-theraputic walks.
Valerie Blaine
Valerie grew up tagging alongside her mother in the garden, who taught her the value of plants, soil, worms, spiders and snakes. Her dad took her on frequent hikes in nearby forest preserves throughout her childhood, and her fate was sealed. She earned a bachelor's degree in botany and a masters degree in forestry, and went on to a wonderful career as a naturalist and environmental educator. Gardening with native plants was a given, wherever she lived. Valerie has been restoring an oak hickory woodland on her property in St. Charles for 22 years, and helping the land heal is one of her greatest joys.
Jim Kleinwachter
Jim Kleinwachter is a well-known member of the staff at The Conservation Foundation because he is the Program Director for Conservation@Home. This program assists people making changes to their landscape that help retain and cleanse water – and create more habitat for wildlife. The highly prized Conservation@Home sign in your yard signals cooperation with nature’s ways.

Jim has visited hundreds of properties to do evaluations and provide assistance. He is extremely knowledgeable about how to move forward from wherever you are in changing your landscape to be more eco-friendly.
Rory Klick
Rory has worked in nursery production, landscape design-build, natural areas restoration and community greening for 40 years, including positions with the City of Chicago and the Chicago Botanic Garden. She holds degrees in horticulture (BS), landscape architecture (MSLA) and plant ecology (MS), and is deeply committed to sustainable landscape approaches. Rory has served on the national Board of Directors for the American Community Gardening Association (ACGA, 2002-2008), written articles for ACGA and the National Gardening Association, and presented at numerous gardening conferences and symposia in both the U.S and Canada. She served on the Lake County (Illinois) Planning Commission (2009-2014), served as a youth mentor for the Center for Conservation Leadership with Lake Forest Openlands (2015, 2017), and is active in mentoring new community and school gardens. Married to a fellow botanist and restoration ecologist, she and her husband Ken have three children, and try to live simply on their small farm in southern Wisconsin. Now in her thirteenth year as faculty at College of Lake County, Rory serves as the department chair of the CLC Horticulture Program, and received the college’s teaching excellence award for 2012-2013.
Don Wilkin
My focus is human ecology/human sustainability. Associate Professor Emeritus of Natural Resources, having retired from University of Arizona, Tucson in 1999.
Trish Beckjord
Trish Beckjord chose to become a landscape architect in 1993, after a successful career in healthcare. Her motivation was to help save and improve the quality of our wild places and do something of lasting value that spoke to her personally. Since then, her work has helped many develop an appreciation for the unique beauty of our native plants and the critical importance of including them in our home gardens and public landscapes. Trish has served as the Fox River Initiative Program Manager for The Conservation Foundation, the Native Plants Specialist for Midwest Groundcovers, LLC and Senior Associate for Conservation Design Forum, now a part of ECT, Inc.
Jean Muntz
Jean has been a gardener all her life, but her evolution to gardening with natives has come about the last 30 years. She and husband Dave have been returning natives to their property, a degraded farmland, located adjacent to Burnidge Forest Preserve.

By education an RN, she found a career in medicine afforded an easy transition into an opportunity -- with her interest in plants -- to establish a plant rental and plant care service business, the industry known as Interiorscaping.

Once retired it has been her pleasure to continue the work on her land and become a member of the WildOnes Northern Kane County Chapter. This chapter most recently began a community initiative known as Start In Your Yard to bring support to homeowners who, by using natives, wish to steward a yard that is shared with many.
Nancy Lamia
After 20 years as an educator, I turned to working with computers on the Prairie Stone campus in Hoffman Estates. There I encountered native landscaping and began to appreciate native plants. I even incorporated some I particularly admired into my home landscape. 

But years later, my hobby turned from golf to birding, and I began to read about birds. The recurring theme, of course, was how their numbers are declining because of the loss of habitat. Surveying my own yard, I discovered that the green hedge I loved for its privacy, was all buckthorn, which poisons birds and displaces the native plants that provide them food and shelter. 

In removing that hedge, and replacing it with natives, I was making a commitment, and to support it, I sought out Wild Ones. Its incredible members introduced me to Doug Tallamy’s ideas, and now, a decade later, I'm quite active with the organization and its Start In Your Yard initiative -- still using what I learned in both of my careers.
Deb McMullen
Deb McMullen (Perryman) has been a public educator for the past 29 Years. She served as a science teacher for 25 years and the last four as Coordinator for the Office of K-12 Science & Planetarium. Her first four years she taught at an alternative high school in South Carolina but found her home at School District U46. Deb is passionate about science education and loves putting her science background to use on community-based problems like green infrastructure.
Gary Swick
Gary Swick used his degrees in Natural Resource Management and Outdoor Teacher Education as a teacher in School District 300 for 34 years and created unique Ecological Restoration courses at the high school level. Under his direction, students planted over 50,000 trees, restored acres of natural areas, generated files of research, and accomplished many other acts of environmental stewardship that have become local history. Many of those students are now professionals in the environmental field. He has also invested 10 years at Northern Illinois University as an instructor, and 30 years with the Friends of the Fox River creating a watershed of caretakers and “Fixin’ the Fox.” He is living in his fifth home with a yard converted to wildlife habitat. His grandparents had a victory garden, and he thinks all Americans should find patriotism again in utilizing their yards for food for their neighbors both human and wild.
Kim Haag
Kimberley Haag retired as a teacher/special education administrator after 35 years. Two years later, she enrolled in the inaugural Kane County Certified Naturalist program, an event that literally changed her life. Although always a plant lover, she was introduced to the exciting world of native plants and their predominant role in keeping our ecosystem in balance.

Following her classes with the KCCN program, she began volunteering with the Kane County Forest Preserve and ultimately became the steward at Johnson’s Mound Forest Preserve in Elburn. She also volunteers at other restoration efforts through the forest preserves and education programs such as Maple Sugaring Days, Harvest of the Acorn Moon and Monarchs and Milkweeds, as well as some of the forest preserve prescribed burns. She has taught outdoor education programs with the St. Charles Park District (until this year of Covid). She also manages the prairie restoration and maintenance at Fine Line Creative Arts Center in St. Charles. Joining Wild Ones of Northern Kane County in its inaugural year of 2009 led to serving on the communications committee, plant committee and as president in 2021. She is also a member of the Conservation Foundation, Friends of the Fox, Citizens for Conservation and other environmental groups. She and her husband Steve are happily tearing up more lawn each year on their 1 1/3 acre property in Elburn and embracing Doug Tallamy’s suggestion to create a homegrown national park.
Sue Harney
Sue Harney is a long-time advocate for land preservation and natural area protection. She has served on a variety of local and regional boards involving land-use, water quality, and education. She co-authored Dundee Township’s successful Open Space Referendum in 1997 and served as the Township Supervisor from 2000 to 2017. She is currently a Township Trustee, the Vice-Chairman of the Kane County Planning Commission and serves on the Conservation Foundation Advisory Board. 

Sue oversaw the Township’s acquisition of Raceway Woods, Library Springs and the Jelke Creek Annex. She directed and managed the restoration and development of the Township’s Open Space lands including the Jelke Creek Bird Sanctuary, Raceway Woods, Wahoo Woods and the Dixie Briggs Fromm Nature Preserve during her tenure as Supervisor. She is committed to the preservation and restoration of our biological heritage in the Fox River Valley for the recreation and health of present and future residents. 

The Harneys have taken Dr. Tallamy’s prescription for using native plants to heart. Their yard is an easy care, oak woodland with multiple native plants, multiple layers of vegetation and minimal grass. They back up to a ravine with a small creek (leading to the Jelke Creek Bird Sanctuary) which acts as a wildlife corridor for deer, coyotes, fox, racoons and numerous birds and insects. They have advised and worked with neighbors to foster natives and remove non-natives in their yards.
June Keibler
I began working as a volunteer for The Nature Conservancy (TNC) in McHenry County, working as a co-steward to save and restore Lake in the Hills Fen in about 1979. My work continued with TNC in Kane County as the volunteer steward for Freeman Kame in the Volunteer Stewardship Network, (VSN), and from that position was recruited to be the regional steward for Kane County initiating the volunteer stewardship program for our county. My job was to recruit and work with stewards to restore natural areas on public and private lands in Kane County. It was at this point that it became important to me to bring native plants into my home landscape for the purpose of providing a seed source for our restoration projects. In 1993, together with two partners, started Witness Tree Native Landscapes; an ecological restoration company working on public and private property in Kane, Lake, DuPage and McHenry Counties. Retired in 2005. Trish Beckjord and Pat Hill and I began a new chapter of Wild Ones, NKCWO, about 12 years ago and we served together as co-presidents for about 3 years. The highlight of my years with WOs was bringing Doug Tallamy to Elgin and getting to know him when he was a guest in our home. He’s a true visionary as well as a down to earth, lovely human being.
Karen Sherman
While waiting during my daughter’s piano lessons, I was drawn to the ‘wild gardens’ across the street, which were unlike all the traditional landscapes in the neighborhood. Every week I would visit them until one day the owner came out; it was Pat Hill, a professional landscape designer who featured native plants. (She wrote Design your Natural Midwest Garden.) I had known Pat in my youth at church, and when we reconnected, she quickly became one of my mentors.

That was over 20 years ago. Since then I have taken classes at the Arboretum, volunteered at forest preserves, and learned by visiting natural areas -- in addition to being associated with like-minded folks in the Wild Ones native plants organization. I’m still learning -- just as the native gardens we plant are constantly evolving!

Kathleen Hamill
A relative newcomer to Wild Ones and native gardening, Kathy has spent the last five years replacing turf grass with native plants. Her yard, which features heavy clay in the form of both parched earth and swampy muck, provides continual learning experiences, as well as opportunities to make a wide variety of mistakes. She's eager to share her knowledge of what not to do, as well as to infect you with joyful enthusiasm for transforming your own outside home into pollinator paradise.
Start In Your Yard is an initiative launched by the Greater Kane County chapter of Wild Ones