Kane County Certified Naturalists Program — Register Now for 2016!
- Editor’s Note: This article was written by Valerie Blaine, nature programs manager for the Forest Preserve of Kane County.
The Kane County Certified Naturalists program will launch you on a lifetime journey of exploring nearby nature.
This in-depth environmental education program for adults fosters a sense of stewardship and increases community involvement in Kane County natural areas. The program is a collaborative partnership of the Forest Preserve District of Kane County, the St. Charles Park District, and the Geneva Park District. As such, it affords the opportunity to learn about a wide variety of natural areas in Kane County. It also opens doors to volunteer opportunities in all three agencies.
The program begins with coursework that builds a comprehensive knowledge of Illinois ecology, with specific emphasis on Kane County. There are six core classes in the winter, covering the basics of woodland ecology, prairie, wetlands, and the ecological processes that unite them all. The core classes are held at Hickory Knolls Discovery Center in St. Charles. In spring and summer, students take part in four field trips at sites throughout Kane County. The continuing education component of KCCN comprises “Learn from the Experts” classes, held throughout the year at various locations, on a variety of topics in natural and cultural history.
In addition to class and field work, volunteer hours are required for certification. There are ample opportunities to volunteer within the three sponsoring agencies. “KCCNers” can volunteer in areas that interest them — from brush cutting and seed harvesting to greeting visitors at special events.
KCCN students receive their certification once they have completed the coursework and volunteer hours. Each year, graduates can re-certify by volunteering and by taking ongoing Learn from the Experts classes.
If you’d like to learn more about the program and how to register for the 2016 class, come to a KCCN information session. The first session will be held from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 3, at Hickory Knolls Discovery Center in St. Charles. The second will take place from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 5 at Creek Bend Nature Center in St. Charles.
Feel free to stop by, ask questions, and pick up information packets with detailed schedules and application material. The core classes will begin on Jan. 12, 2016.
About the Kane County Forest Preserve District
The Forest Preserve District of Kane County acquires, holds and maintains land to preserve natural and historic resources, habitats, flora and fauna. The district restores, restocks, protects and preserves open space for the education, recreation and pleasure of Kane County citizens. For more information, visit the district’s website or find them on social media via Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Also, sign up for the quarterly TreeLine Newsletter.