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TNI Newsletter Winter 2011_Layout 1 1/3/2012 11:13 AM Page 1

Winter 2011/2012



cypreSS report neW
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from the

miSSiSSippi Sanctuary

Welcome neW Staff

pond reStoration

on heartland prairie

aStronomy aSSociation

Kevin Bennett was hired as the new Executive Director of The Nature Institute in May. Mr. Bennett, an Alton native, holds a B.S. degree in Environmental Science from Quincy University and a M.A. in Natural Resource Policy and Administration from the University of IllinoisSpringfield. He has worked for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife and The Nature Conservancy.

diScovery upcoming
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camp eventS

Emily Martin was recently hired as the new part-time Director of Outreach and Development. Ms. Martin, a Springfield native, holds a B.A. in Mass Media Communications from the University of IllinoisSpringfield. Prior to joining TNI, she worked in various roles as an outdoor educator and a media design specialist.

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Winter 2011/2012

Main Office 618-466-9930 Talahi Lodge 618-467-2521

2213 South Levis Lane Godfrey, IL 62035


a meSSage from



Board preSident

t may seem this greeting is somewhat contradictory but allow me to explain. I do wish you a Happy New Year, but I also must take my leave as a board member of The Nature Institute. I have had the pleasure of serving on the board of directors for the maximum time allowed by our by-laws of nine years. During that time, I've served as vice-president for four years and President for the last three.

Hiking trails are now closed
Will reopen on March 15th Dawn to Dusk

Staff Kevin Bennett - Executive Director Tim Schofield - Stewardship Director Patricia Brown - Education Director Dorothy Cronin - Education Assistant Emily Martin - Outreach Director

Board of Directors Mark Maggos - President Paul Edelman - Vice-President Nan Adams - Secretary Steve Springate - Treasurer Andrew Carruthers Tom Doyle Judy Hoffman Robert Larson Mike Siemer Sue Weber

I recall the day when I was asked if I would like to be on the board of TNI. I thought to myself, "Okay, I'm a neighbor of the property. It's a great organization. I'd like to help. It probably won't take too much of my time. It could even be fun. Why not?" For you readers that are serving or have served on a volunteer board, you know how naive that sounds. Nine years later, I'm still a neighbor. It's still a great organization. I hope I've been a help. It took up an enormous amount of time and it was a lot of fun. The experience has also been rewarding and gratifying. Those are the two words that best describe my relationship with TNI, its staff, the patrons and my fellow past and present board members. You all have my gratitude. As a board, we've had our challenges, disagreements and unanimously acclaimed victories. In a word, we have succeeded.

The Nature Institute is taking giant steps forward with wonderful plans and projects in all facets of its mission of "Fostering an awareness and appreciation of the natural world through preservation, education and restoration." With Warmest Regards This Holiday Season, Mark Maggos


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TNI News

cypreSS pond reStoration
After many years of neglect, Cypress Pond was slowly turning into a shallow puddle of water. The pond is over 80 years old and had an average depth of less than three feet. Covered with lily pads and other vegetation, it was increasingly being choked out. Fisheries biologists from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources recommended that we attempt to restore the pond.

The restoration effort included removing the silt, shaping the pond bottom, putting riprap on the dam, and constructing a retention basin. The result will be a healthy pond, with a depth of twelve to fourteen feet. The shallow end will be two to three feet deep. This will allow an area for educational purposes. The riprap will stop wave action from undercutting the dam. The project is ongoing as we prepare to stock the pond with native fish, amphibians, and reptiles.

dozer and track hoe removed eight to ten feet of silt.

By our first estimation, the pond contained between four to five feet of silt deposits. In a little over a month, a bull-

cypreSS pond



Silt removal

grant helpS With creation
Great Rivers Land Trust was awarded a $5,000 grant from Illinois American Water through its 2011 Environmental Grant Program to assist in the construction of a retention basin on the grounds of The Nature Institute’s Cypress Pond.
By the great riverS land truSt


retention BaSin

The basin itself traps sediment before it reaches Cypress Pond. The water that drains into the basin comes from

The purpose of the project is to demonstrate the effectiveness of a two-tiered filtration system to prevent sediment and impurities from reaching our streams and rivers. It will also serve as a demonstration site for workshops to educate farmers, landowners, students, and others on the effectiveness of the structure.

surrounding fields, yards, roadways, and ditches. The water flowing from the watershed often includes impurities such as herbicides, insecticides, road salt and oil. Selecting and experimenting with high absorbency plants in the basin that are tolerant to the various impurities will be an added component of the plan. It is a terrific opportunity for visitors to The Nature Institute to develop a better understanding of watersheds and erosion control efforts. This project is also an excellent example of a cooperative effort between two local community organizations and the Illinois American Water Company. The project will be managed and maintained by The Nature Institute and Great Rivers Land Trust. 3

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heartland prairie report
The Nature Institute’s Heartland Prairie completed another successful year in 2011. We held monthly hikes with over 150 people in attendance, where visitors learned about native prairie plants and developed an appreciation for the project. TNI hosted a variety of other events as well, including: the dedication of Burr Oaks in the Sandra Wood Grove. an edible and medicinal plant workshop, an astronomy program, and a visit from McKendree College’s ecology class.

Winter 2011/2012

Volunteers also came out for workdays to help remove invasive species and collect native prairie seed for replanting. In partnership with the Alton Parks and Recreation Department, plans for a permanent observation platform are in the works. Thanks to all the friends of the prairie for their support. We hope to see you in the coming months for our spring programs!

neW aStronomy aSSociation
By eddi agha

• • • •

the nature inStitute
Venus stood out a half an hour after sunset in the southwestern sky at a magnitude of 3.9. It was by far the brightest object in the sky. Mercury was just 2 degrees below Venus but required an unobstructed horizon to be visible. Both planets set about one hour after sunset. Uranus was in the sky but a bit difficult to see without help. If you could find the Great Square of Pegasus, you might have seen Uranus along the side that contains the stars Alpheratz & Algenib. Jupiter amazed in the East as the sky turned dark. It was the brightest object in the sky and with good seeing and averted vision you might have been able to see one or more of its Galilean moons! Through a telescope, the view of the largest planet in the solar system is simply amazing! Saturn, absent for a while returned in mid-October. In November’s morning sky it was close to the star Spica in the constellation Virgo.

The Nature Institute recently held its first meeting of their newly-formed Astronomy Association. We participated in something called “The World Wide Star Count.” This is an activity where anyone can contribute to the furthering of science in an effort to reduce light pollution.


range at the

olin nature preServe

We counted six different stars which makes the skeet range at The Nature Institute a Magnitude 4 site! In the past few months the sky has given us plenty to see. Here’s a recap:

After a short training session, a few of us went out and counted how many stars we could see in the Constellation Cygnus.

That’s it for now. Keep reading and be sure to send any questions to


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TNI News


Burn at

the hutchinSon Bird Sanctuary

SteWardShip report

We had another productive season in the preserve. The stewardship crew has been busy clearing out Asian honeysuckle, autumn olive, and other invasive species in order to make room for native plants and trees. Much of the work has been done on foot with backpack sprayers and chainsaws. A Bobcat equipped with a grinder was also used to clear large sections of woods that were overgrown with invasive shrubs and vines. With the removal of invasive species, the restoration of native oak-hickory forest can proceed. A few hundred oak saplings have been planted in many of the cleared

areas in order to ensure that aging oaks will eventually be replaced. Prescribed fire has also helped in restoration efforts. Fire is a natural part of most prairie and forest ecosystems and is a proven method for removing invasive species and giving native trees, grasses and flowers a chance to thrive. The preservation of native habitats is a continual battle, but with our unrelenting efforts to remove invasive species and cultivate native ones, we are confident that the preserve will continue to be a successful model for conservation and stewardship in the Midwest.


creW removing invaSive plantS from hillSide at the miSSiSSippi Sanctuary


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Winter 2011/2012

hiStoric talahi lodge

The Nature Institute celebrated 29 years of Discovery Camp during the 2011 summer season. Camp staff guided daily “Leave No Trace” hikes and conducted fun, educational programs on geology, aquatics, botany, stewardship, arts and crafts, and storytelling, just to name a few.

diScovery camp markS 29th year

With the help of camp staff, our 5th and 6th grade campers organized a fundraising carnival called “Change for Change” which benefited six local charities including the American Cancer Society, 5As, Dylan's Hope, Catholic Charities, Baby Caitlyn and the Joplin Relief Effort. Families came to the event with pockets full of change to purchase food and drink or participate in various activities to support their favorite cause. During the one hour event, the campers raised in excess of $400.

The funds were used to hire several counselors who worked full-time and gained valuable skills that will help prepare them for continued education and future employment.
and camperS enjoy a Beautiful day on talahi’S laWn

The Nature Institute received a $54,000 Youth Corps Grant administered through the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR).

On July 5th, Governor Pat Quinn announced The Illinois Youth Recreation Corps (IYRC) grant program. The IYRC was established in order to encourage employment of young people aged 16 to 19 who work in conservation and recreational programs.

diScovery camp receiveS grant


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January 16, 2012 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Meet at Talahi Lodge

Volunteer Opportunity



TNI News

Native Flowers Presentation

People wishing to register for project should call 618466-9930. Each participant must sign a waiver of liability. Children ages 9 and are welcomed, with a participating adult. Where to Begin - Water Cycle Wednesday, January 11, 2012 Morning session - 10:00 to 11:00 a.m. Afternoon session - 1:00 to 2:00 p.m. Please be sure to register no later than the Friday before the program – Limited to 15 children The Day it Rained Hearts Wednesday, February 8, 2012 Morning session - 10:00 to 11:00 a.m. Afternoon session - 1:00 to 2:00 p.m. Please be sure to register no later than the Friday before the program – Limited to 15 children

TNI is hosting a service project as part of the Dr. Martin Luther King Service Day and part of the Alton Regional Convention and Visitors Bureau Serving our Feathered Friends. Volunteers will work to improve bald eagle habitat at the John M. Olin Nature Preserve by removing invasive honeysuckle from the forest floor beneath the trees where the eagles roost. All equipment provided, bring gloves and weather related clothing. Snacks and hot chocolate provided.

Saturday, March 24, 2012 10:00 a.m. The Midwestern Native Garden: Native Alternatives to Nonnative Flowers and Plants, an Illustrated Guide. Presentation, discussion and book signing by Charlotte Adelman and Bernard L. Schwartz

Discovery Camp Registration

Saturday March 17, 2012 Starts promptly at 9:00 11:00 a.m. Registration will be held at St. Ambrose Community Center located at 820 W. Homer Adams Parkway in Godfrey.

You can download a registration form on our website ( and bring it to registration. Follow the link to Camp 2012. Please note that this does not guarantee you a spot in that camp! Only when you submit the $25.00 deposit along with a completed registration form will your child be in camp.

Knee High Naturalist - January

Knee High Naturalist – February

Pre-K -- June 11-15 Kindergarten -- June 18-22 1st and 2nd grade -- June 25-29 3rd and 4th grade -- July 9-13 5th and 6th grade -- July 16-20 1st and 2nd grade -- July 23-27 3rd and 4th grade -- July 30-August 3

TNI Hiking Trails

From dawn to dusk March to November, our trails provide a great opportunity to explore the great outdoors. When hiking, please observe the following rules: - No pets are allowed on the preserves - No bike riding on any trails - Be considerate of other hikers - Always stay on marked trails - Dispose of your trash properly - No picking or taking of anything from the preserve (plants, flowers, rocks, etc.)


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2213 South Levis Lane Godfrey, IL 62035

The Nature Institute 2213 South Levis Lane Godfrey, IL 62035

Membership Form

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