Feb 28

We’re especially excited to share the following guest blog from one of ARKive’s Global Ambassadors, Susan Kloempken Graunke. Susan has helped to lead the charge for ARKive in the US and, more specifically, in Illinois. With her support and leadership, our campaign to “Fill the ARK” in Illinois has been and continues to be incredibly successful! Read on to see why ‘The Prairie State’ will always hold a special place in her heart.

As a global ambassador to ARKive, I was asked if I wanted to write about why I value my experience in conservation in Illinois.  ARKive is launching its Illinois feature page.  From fundraising efforts last year, we were able to feature 100 incredible Illinois species profiles on the website!

“Every year we planted over 200 trees that we dug by hand”

My love for conservation was imbedded in me at an early age.  My father, Dr. Robert C. Kloempken, was a physician by profession.  His avocation, however, was conservation.  In 1968, my dad purchased land in McHenry County, Illinois, USA.  Every year we planted over 200 trees that we dug by hand on the property.  My dad also planted seeds, native wildflowers and grasses. Dad knew the Latin name of every tree, flower, bush or grass on the property.  This he studied during the sermons on Sundays.

Dr. Robert C. Kloempken and his students, working on the Prairie (1982)

 “Fire is an extremely beneficial tool in the sustainability and management of the prairie”

We also started three of the first true American prairies on that land. We would walk the railroad tracks, cemeteries, and other out of the way and secret places to collect seeds and grow those plants, flowers, grasses in our basement which we then planted.  Every year we burned the prairies.  Fire is an extremely beneficial tool in the sustainability and management of the prairie.  It rejuvenates the prairie and also hampers the growth of invasive species.  This was an all out family affair that everyone had to attend.

Prairie burn (1978)

Illinois is nicknamed the “Prairie State” because the region once had many treeless plains that were covered with tall grass.   I live in the “Prairie State,” and this is why I value conservation in Illinois!

Susan Kloempken Graunke, ARKive Global Ambassador

What a lovely story and first-hand account of conservation action in Illinois. Thanks for being the definition of an ambassador for ARKive, Susan!

Feb 27

Have we got a treat for you times two! First, have you seen the incredible new Illinois feature page just launched on the ARKive website?

ARKive's Illinois feature page

From the stony outcrops at the Garden of the Gods to the sandy shores of Lake Michigan, the state of Illinois is one of the richest areas of biodiversity in the Great Lakes basin. Through the generosity of ARKive supporters in the great state of Illinois, we are delighted to launch the ARKive Illinois feature page; the GO-TO source for Illinois wildlife media and natural history information. You can spend hours exploring 50 well-known and well-loved species of Illinois as well as 100+ lesser-known but just as important species that deserve recognition!

ARKive's northern raccoon photo

So, what’s the best way to celebrate this new feature and all of the wonderful wildlife, woodlands, and wayward walks in Illinois?  By gathering an incredible collection of scientists, conservationists and nature diehards that can’t wait to tell their favorite WILD stories in the Land of Lincoln as part of our Going WILD in Illinois mini-blog series!

Il parter logos

For the next two weeks, we’ll be publishing guest blogs from our friends at the Lincoln Park Zoo, the Shedd Aquarium, the Field Museum, the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, and more who are anxious to share stories about Illinois endangered species recovery, explorations of incredible natural areas found only in the state, and brilliant Chicago students who are leading the charge as the conservationists of tomorrow.

ARKive barred owl photo

Of course, there will be loads of awe-inspiring imagery from fantastic ARKive contributors to quench your thirst for wildlife media – it’s what we do!

So, come back to the ARKive blog often to read the next chapter in the series. Follow the Going WILD in Illinois blog tag or look for the series on social media by searching #GoingWILDinIL.

Liana Vitali, Education & Outreach Manager, Wildscreen USA

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