Become a ChicagoNatureNOW! Scout
The purpose of ChicagoNatureNOW! is to restore the natural beauty of the Chicago region by getting people to fall in love with Chicago nature. Unfortunately, most people don’t even know that the love-of-their-life is just waiting there for them! And being a scout is being a Nature Matchmaker. You’re helping introduce people to nature so that they fall in love. After all, every day during the growing season, Chicago nature brings them flowers. We’re there to show people where and when to go on their date.
Each week, we connect Chicagoans with nature by providing free weekly reports about national-park quality wildflower blooming events that occur at specific nature preserves around the Chicago region. Therefore, we need to know when these glorious bloom are taking place. ChicagoNatureNOW! is about timing.
To become a scout, we’d like you to report on at least one of our covered preserves on a regular basis, like once a week to once every few weeks. If choose to adopt a preserve (see below), then we only need reports during its main blooming season.
We Need Scouts to Report on Our Featured Preserves
So, what’s in it for you, other than that really good feeling you get by doing a great thing for the world? First, you’re are going learn far more about Chicago’s plants and habitats than any user of this website. And you’ll be learning and getting encouragement from a group of enthusiastic matchmakers like yourself. Scouting inspires scouts to get out into nature more often, which reduces their stress and brings more happiness into their lives. And, if that’s not enough, we throw a party for scouts in the fall!
Once you become a scout, you get access to a special Facebook group, the Google spreadsheet, and the Nature Scouts portal on this website. The latter provides helpful tips and step-by-step details about scouting and filing reports. And, of course, we’re always ready to answer your questions in the Facebook group. Plus, if you’d like, one of us would be happy to accompany you on your first scouting trip!
If you frequently visit one of our featured preserves, then this is a natural fit. Just send a report when something great is happening. (See “What’s a Report?” below.)
- Multi-Site Reporting (most common)
If you want to learn a lot about Chicago nature, this is the best and fastest way to do it! Most scouts fall into this category. Every one to three weeks, you’d check out a special Google spreadsheet to see which preserves need scouting. Then, you claim one or more preserves on the list and visit them. While you’re there, take a handful of pictures and, afterwards, file a short report. (See “What’s Report?” below.) I don’t care if you’re a photographer. I just need pictures that show me what’s blooming and how well it’s blooming.
WHAT’S A REPORT?
A report consists of a few pictures along with a couple of sentences about what you found and whether you think the preserve is worth visiting at that moment. That’s pretty much it. You enter your notes into an online spreadsheet and then into a Facebook post, where you’ll also drop in your pictures. For the photos, I need a few shots of the wider landscape to show me the quality of the blooming event. I’m not looking for great photography. I just want to see if the event is exciting enough to be part of the weekly alert. You don’t even have to know about the flowers. You’ll learn that stuff as you go. Just take a couple of shots of the flowers and their leaves to help the team identify it. To give you an idea of what I mean by an exciting blooming event, take a peek at the photos on this website.
Contact me if you’re interested in being one of our scouts, and I’ll be happy to provide you with more of the details.