Deliver Benefits to the Public

Midewin annual winter lecture series to begin in January

ILLINOIS—The USDA Forest Service Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie's annual Winter Lecture Series will begin Jan. 9. Canal Corridor Association President and Chief Executive Officer Ana Koval will kick off the 2020 lecture series.

Nine presentations will take place at the Midewin Welcome Center from Jan. 9 to April 24. The lecture series is open to the public and will provide free information on topics with ties to the Forest Service, Midewin and conservation. While in attendance, guests can also enjoy several displays at the Welcome Center, including glaciers, wetland habitats, prairie habitats, wildlife that inhabit wetlands and prairies, ghosts of the prairie and timeline of the Midewin area.

Ana Koval & Wade Spang shaking hands.
Canal Corridor Association President and Chief Executive Officer Ana Koval shakes hands with Midewin Prairie Supervisor Wade Spang in the Midewin Welcome Center Nov. 2, 2019. Koval will kick off the 2020 Midewin Winter Lecture Series at the Welcome Center. USDA Forest Service photo by Veronica Hinke.

The lecture series schedule is as follows:

Thursday, Jan. 9, “Illinois & Michigan Canal: Celebrating 35 years of America’s 1st National Heritage Area”

Ana Koval, president & chief executive officer, Canal Corridor Association

The Canal Corridor Heritage Area is celebrating 35 years as the first-ever National Heritage Area in the United States. Discover the history and importance of the Illinois & Michigan Canal to the Chicago area. Learn about the sites along the corridor and some of the reasons that make the canal one of America’s most essential national treasures.

Wednesday, Jan. 15, “Spider Watching at Midewin”

Frank Pascoe, D.A., professor of biology, University of St. Francis

Did you know that spiders are the dominant invertebrate predators on the prairie? Using the “Spider Watching at Midewin” brochure as a guide, Pascoe will present information about spider biology, courtship, ecology and more.

Wednesday, Jan. 29, “Desire Lines: Daring to Follow Trickster Coyotes and Rambling Bison”

Dr. Gavin Van Horn, author, director, Cultures of Conservation at the Center for Humans and Nature

Dr. Gavin Van Horn will share readings and reflections from his recent book The Way of Coyote: Shared Journeys in the Urban Wilds. Van Horn will discuss how wildlife can further connect us to the importance of re-storying Chicagoland from our backyards to the bioregion.

Thursday, Feb. 13, “Fantastic Moths and How to Find Them”

Trevor Edmonson, Midewin project manager, The Wetlands Initiative

How can you get involved in mothing at Midewin in 2020? Find out during this engaging presentation by someone who, as Midewin project manager with The Wetlands Initiative, has specialized insights about the moths of Midewin. Learn about the amazing diversity of moths as well as the equipment used to find and document them.

Wednesday, Feb. 26, “Bird Life of Midewin”

Greg DuBois, vice president and program director, Will County Audubon Society

Why is Midewin being called “a haven for bird watchers”? Find out. Midewin’s size and diversity of habitats supports populations of bird species that are scarce or nonexistent elsewhere in Illinois. This program will highlight birds that DuBois and others have encountered during bird monitoring and bird tours at Midewin. Some are “life birds.”

Tuesday, March 10, “Voices Out of the Past: Midewin Oral History”

Dr. Pam Hunte, anthropologist, vice president, Midewin Heritage Association

The Midewin Heritage Association has conducted interviews with people who lived and worked on this land before it was Midewin. Come hear the memories of local farm families, arsenal workers and military staff as they recall the past.

Tuesday, March 24, “Uncovering the Unknown, Unique, and (sometimes) Unclear Past: A Report on the Summer 2019 Archaeological Excavations at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie”

Dr. Madeleine McLeester and Professor Mark Schurr, University of Notre Dame, and Dr. Terrance Martin, Illinois State Museum

Learn about recent finds, archaeology of the region and artifact analyses currently underway from the 2019 Passport in Time explorations at Midewin. What are we learning about the people who lived here long before us? What were their lives like? What were some of their challenges and how did they overcome them?

Tuesday, April 7, “New Perspectives on Bison in Illinois Country”

Alan D. Harn, Curator Emeritus of Anthropology, Illinois State Museum

In the mid-1900s, bison bones were discovered at a site south of Peoria, Illinois. These specimens have since triggered a decades-long exploration into the antiquity of bison in the state. Learn how this site has opened a unique and clear window into ancient life and bison in the Midwest.

Thursday, April 23, “Tallgrass Prairie Restoration Effects on Snake Communities in Northern Illinois”

Grace Wu, masters student, University of Illinois

Wu has spent the last two years studying snake populations at Midewin and the possible effects on them from ongoing restoration activities. Come hear her findings and learn more about the abundance and diversity of the snake species within Midewin’s 3,000 acres of restoration.