Goodbye 2019!…Hello 2020

BY ANDREW MORKES, FOUNDER OF NATURE IN CHICAGOLAND

I want to thank all my Nature in Chicagoland readers for visiting my blog in 2019. In nearly 35 blog posts and more than 59,000 words (I didn’t count them, so I’ll have to trust my data analytics software), I’ve covered everything from an adventurous trip down Nippersink Creek in McHenry County with my 9-year-old son; to winter hiking at North Park Village Nature Center; Cap Sauers Holding Nature Preserve, and other locales; to the Great Crane Migration in Nebraska. I discovered various spots in the Illinois Nature Preserves System (which protects the most pristine nature areas in our state). I talked to authors and environmentalists about the tallgrass prairie and The Driftless Region. I visited several nature centers, a local history museum, and a gem of a nature preserve that’s situated next to what I’d call an urban speedway in Chicago. I even interviewed 3 of the 14 candidates for Chicago mayor. (Sorry, no Lori Lightfoot.) It’s been a lot of fun, and a great way to spend more time outdoors with my son and wife. I wish writing stories for Nature in Chicagoland was my full-time job—maybe it will be some day.

I look forward to telling you more about the great places to see in Chicagoland. But before I move on to 2020, here were the reader favorites in 2019 (you can click on the links to read the articles).

1. Eleven Things to Do at Lake Katherine Nature Center and Botanic Gardens

2. Nippersink Creek Provides a Great Kayaking or Canoeing Adventure Just an Hour From Chicago

3. West Ridge Nature Preserve: An Oasis in Chicago

4. Twelve Tips for a Successful Winter Hike

5. Author Discusses the Joys of the Tallgrass Prairie

6. Author and Professor Discusses the Magical Driftless Area

7. Isle a la Cache Museum: Midwest Fur Trade History, Great Views of the Des Plaines River, and 9 Other Reasons to Visit

8. A Lake Michigan Calendar and Nature Books to Fill Your Holiday Stockings

9. Sagawau Environmental Learning Center: The Only Canyon in Cook County, Great Hiking and Cross-Country Skiing, and Much More

10. Sand Ridge Nature Center: Indoor and Outdoor Education and Fun in All Seasons

The 11th-most-popular post is a tie between a state park and a recently named national park that are neighbors. I visited these two Midwestern gems on consecutive days in July. Because temps were in the low-90s, the parks were largely empty. I had the time of my life walking the dunes, hiking through the forests, and cooling off on the serene and stunning beaches. Wise government officials should combine these lakeshore gems to make a much-larger national park that will become an international draw due to its biological diversity, rare plants and animals, and proximity to Chicagoland.

11. Indiana Dunes State Park: Beautiful Beaches, Peaceful Forests, and a Biodiversity Hotspot

11. Indiana Dunes National Park: Our Nation’s Newest National Park

Thanks for reading and supporting Nature in Chicagoland. Happy New Year, and please send me your ideas for places that you’d like covered in 2020. And tell your friends about Nature in Chicagoland. Have a great year outdoors!

Copyright (text) Andrew Morkes

Copyright (photos) Andrew Morkes, except the photos for entries #5 and #6 (copyright Cindy Crosby and Kevin Koch, respectively); the last photo for entry #9 (copyright Sagawau Canyon Environmental Learning Center); and all the photos for entry #10 (copyright Sand Ridge Nature Center)

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Interested in a career that protects the environment? I frequently write about job opportunities in environmental science, environmental activism, and clean energy in my career newsletter, the CAM Report. Click here to read a sample issue and learn more about subscribing. My College Spotlight newsletter often covers interesting environmental majors. Click here to read a sample issue and learn more about subscribing. Finally, my book, They Teach That in College!?: A Resource Guide to More Than 100 Interesting College Majors, 3rd Edition, provides more information on environmental- and sustainability-related majors such as Ecotourism, Range Management, Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Built Environment, Sustainability Studies, and Sustainable Agriculture/Organic Farming. Click on the title to read the table of contents, the introduction, and a sample chapter.

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