From dandelions planted by European settlers to the Norway maples that now line suburban streets, this interactive walk will explore how people have altered the landscape of Illinois to serve their economic needs.

Historians and naturalists will lead the discussion of how now-common plants reveal how local Illinois communities fit into the story of the largest change in a single landscape in U.S. history.

Join Us On a Walking Tour

The walk will be repeated on three dates. Click the link below on the date you would like to attend to RSVP for a 45-minute walk with historian Ann Keating of North Central College and naturalist Alex Palmer of the Forest Preserve of Cook County moderated by Gavin Van Horn of the Center for Humans and Nature.


June 22, 2019, 10 a.m., Sand Ridge Nature Center, 15891 Paxton Ave., South Holland, IL 60473

June 30, 2019, 10 a.m., Sand Ridge Nature Center, 15891 Paxton Ave., South Holland, IL 60473

July 13, 2019, 10 a.m., Sand Ridge Nature Center, 15891 Paxton Ave., South Holland, IL 60473

Light refreshments will be served after each walk.

About the presenters

Alex Palmer is a naturalist and certified interpretive guide with the Forest Preserves of Cook County at Sand Ridge Nature Center.

He has over 10 years of experience in the natural resource management and environmental education professions across the eastern United States, including within the Calumet Region along the south rim of Lake Michigan. A native of the Great Lakes, Alex spent his childhood within the Lake Erie watershed on the Allegheny Plateau in the eastern half of Cleveland, Ohio, where he developed a fascination for urban natural areas. He considers himself an “urban naturalist.”

Ann Durkin Keating is the Toenniges Professor of History at North Central College where she has taught since 1991.

She holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Illinois and her graduate degrees from University of Chicago. She was the co-editor of the Encyclopedia of Chicago (2004), a print and online project. She has also written several books including Building Chicago: Suburban Developers and the Creation of a Divided Metropolis (1988) about the emergence of suburban government in Chicago and Chicagoland: City and Suburbs of the Railroad Age (2005). More recently, she has turned to Chicago’s early history in Rising Up From Indian Country: The Battle of Fort Dearborn and the Birth of Chicago (2012). She has also just completed a manuscript on Juliette Kinzie and Chicago before the 1871 fire to be published next year by University of Chicago Press.

Gavin Van Horn is the director of cultures of conservation for the Center for Humans and Nature, a nonprofit organization that focuses on and promotes conservation ethics.

He is the author of The Way of Coyote: Shared Journeys in the Urban Wilds,” co-editor of City Creatures: Animal Encounters in the Chicago Wilderness and Wildness: Relations of People and Place,” and he writes for, edits, and curates the City Creatures blog. He lives in Evanston, IL.

Featured photo by Ron Frazier