Sep 16th, 2020

Summer 2020 Newsletter

Even as we practice social distancing, there is no better time to enjoy nature. We want to keep helping our community connect with the outdoors through learning and volunteer opportunities. Read on to learn about BYNC’s activities during the last year.
Thank you, Daniel

To honor his retirement as BYNC president, our board dedicated this bench at the Skokie Lagoons to Daniel Kielson through the Forest Preserve Foundation’s bench dedication program. Visitors can find it next to the boat rental site in the Tower Road parking lot. As the founder of BYNC, Daniel’s leadership, creativity and hard work helped BYNC touch the lives of countless students and community members in New Trier Township and beyond. Daniel has always been proud of his Skokie Lagoons backyard and maintains a connection to the land through stewardship and education with field trip classes, local friends and community members. Thank you, Daniel.

BYNC partnered with the Forest Preserves for nature play at the Fall Paddle Festival

The Forest Preserves of Cook County organized a Fall Paddle Festival last October at the Skokie Lagoons that included kayaking and canoeing, as well as a nature play area hosted by BYNC. Wilderness Inquiry, which leads outdoor adventures, brought “voyageur” canoes to the event. Families and individuals came out to enjoy the activities and great weather.

We brought a Pop-Up Nature Play Area to Winter Let’s Play day

BYNC partnered with The Alliance for Early Childhood to help facilitate open-ended play at a winter Let’s Play day. Parents and children flocked to the event, which took place on a beautiful February day at Crow Island Woods in Winnetka. We displayed learning materials about mammals, including pelts, skulls, tracks and scat, and also took attendees on a nature walk. Kids built structures using BYNC’s nature materials and roasted marshmallows in the big fire pit. The Chicago Botanic Garden was among the other organizations that helped make this event a success.

BYNC teamed up with Venturing Crew 5 of Wilmette for a restoration project

BYNC’s volunteers helped Wilmette’s Venturing Crew 5 develop a restoration project at the Skokie Lagoons, part of the crew’s path to earning the Hornaday Award, one of the highest awards in scouting. The project’s goal was to remove and burn buckthorn to prevent the invasive species from out-competing native plants and degrading the ecosystem. By removing the buckthorn invaders, Crew 5 aims to transform a portion of the lagoons into a more suitable habitat for native wildlife while increasing overall biodiversity. Crew members organized almost 100 volunteers who put in 512 volunteer hours from October through December.

BYNC is partnering with the FPCC for a “Hike the Preserves” series at the Skokie Lagoons

Gary Morrissey led a small group on the first “Hike the Preserves” exploration of the Skokie Lagoons as part of a new series hosted by BYNC and the Forest Preserves. He discussed the history of the Lagoons, including its creation by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s and the Nike missile site established there in the 1950s. Gary also discussed the ongoing frog and bat surveys at the Lagoons.

The next “Hike the Preserves” event took place on Aug. 19. Two groups, led by Linn Carey and volunteers Dan Goodwin and Jo Ann Kimsey, hiked into the woods, passing the Turtle restoration site and current buckthorn removal area. We discussed the history of the Lagoons and ongoing habitat restoration projects to benefit wildlife such as turtles, ospreys and bats. More information can be found on our website, including historical photos from the FPCC that show the development of the Lagoons over time. Masks were required at the events as part of COVID-19 safety measures.

Join us for our next guided walks on Sept. 16 and Oct. 20. Sign up and find details for these and other FPCC events here.

Gary leads the first “Hike the Preserves” exploration at the Lagoons
Amid COVID-19, we encourage everyone to get outdoors and experience nature. Visit for ideas and activities.

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