Forest Preserve District of Cook County, Illinois
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Conservation and Outdoor Education
Nature Bulletin No. 375-A   March 28, 1970
Forest Preserve District of Cook County
George W. Dunne, President
Roland F. Eisenbeis, Supt. of Conservation


The Forest Preserve District offers many priceless opportunities for the schools of Chicago and suburban Cook County. Nowhere on this continent is there such a great area of publicly -- owned native landscape so easily accessible and devoted to the education, pleasure and recreation of the people. The interiors are truly wild and remarkable for the wealth and diversity of their plant and wildlife populations The District is a 61,879 acre sanctuary and laboratory for field trips, nature study and outdoor education. Its educational program is designed to inspire and assist such use by the schools.

These weekly nature bulletins, for instance, are effectively used by most teachers in classroom work and for reference. On the basis of one copy for each teacher in the elementary grades and one for each biology teacher, they are mailed to every parochial school and every suburban and rural school in Cook County. The Chicago public schools should receive many more than the 4000 copies we deliver to the Board of Education and it has been urged that they mimeograph and distribute the requisite number, since our present weekly production of 25,300 copies cannot be materially increased.

From mid-October until mid-March, naturalists are available for school assembly programs. There is no charge. A program ordinarily begins with a brief talk on how to use and enjoy the preserves, followed by about 22 minutes of superb movies, in color with sound, on wildlife or natural history subjects suitable for the grade levels of the pupils. During the remainder of the period the naturalist answer questions from the audience. Appropriate programs are available for high school assemblies.

Since there are over 1,022,374 pupils enrolled in the public schools of Cook County, it is obviously impossible for us to conduct field trips for, lecture to, or otherwise deal with individual classes. That is a responsible function of the schools. However, many teachers do not feel competent to teach natural science and are understandably reluctant to attempt field trips. There is increasing demand for courses which will train them to do so.

Each year this department conducts such courses for groups of teachers A series of three-day workshops are offered in May along with two five-day advanced workshops. This series is repeated again in the fall.

Our Sand Ridge Nature Center in South Holland, Little Red Schoolhouse in the Palos, Trailside Museum in River Forest, River Trail Nature Center north of DesPlaines are extensively used by busloads of school children on scheduled trips Another which is to be called Crab Tree Nature Center located south of Barrington, will be completed this year. With their nature trails and exhibits they are devoted largely to use by teachers and their classes.

We have assisted in the conduct of experimental in-school camps to demonstrate how, by conducting field trips, more natural science may be brought into the classrooms.

We invite further inquiries and greater use of the forest preserves.

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