Monthly Tree Ambassador

 

October 2018

Carol Walter, Senior Accountant

Carol Walter standing under Saucer Magnolia tree holding onto branch

 

What is your favorite season at the Arboretum and why?

Carol considers herself a summer girl, but her favorite season at The Morton Arboretum is definitely fall because, in addition to the beautiful leaf colors, she feels there is more energy in the air. Sometimes folks aren’t as energetic on warm summer days. And while you can see fall color in your local communities, the Arboretum has every color combination imaginable because of the diversity in our collections. 

 

What is the best part of your job?

Carol enjoys Interacting with people outside of the Arboretum and connecting them to our mission. It’s not hard explaining what she does for a living, and it’s easy to tell people about Trolls, Illumination, or Cider & Ale Fest. Carol especially enjoys telling people that we are international and that our staff travel all over the world, not to make money, but to help advance our mission of planting and protecting trees.  
 

Do you have a favorite location on the grounds or a favorite tree?

At the top of the Conifer Walk, on the Illumination route, is a Saucer Magnolia that, with its wide, low-lying branches, looks like it wants a hug. When it is lit during Illumination, it unwittingly seems like an invitation for kids to climb, which of course, we do not allow out of respect for our collections.   
 

What do you want our visitors to know about The Morton Arboretum and our mission?

So much of what we do is outside of the Visitor Center and the core area.A lot happens in Science and Conservation, and so many people in the Center for Tree Science are the faces of the organization.
 

What is an insider tip that you’d like to share with visitors?

Carol’s tip doesn’t come from being an employee, but from her role as a parent. She encourages parents to teach kids to hike. Carol’s parents took her to parks to hike as a child, and she would encourage the same of our visitors. After visiting the Children’s Garden, go into the woods and go for a hike. The color is different, the smells are different. While the East Side is meant to be more manicured, the West Side gives you those unique sights and smells.  
 

Share an interesting fun fact about you:

While Carol doesn’t think of herself as fun, she does find it interesting that she will be ending her career in a similar way and place as when she started her career. When she was 15, Carol worked at White Pines Forest State Park in Mt. Morris, Illinois, and she would hike every single day between her shifts.  She finds it fitting that her career will come full circle when she retires.
 

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September 2018

Samantha Ford, Prospect Researcher
 

Samantha Ford sitting on a bench on the Conifer Path

What is your favorite season at the Arboretum and why?

Samantha’s favorite season is summer. Samantha enjoys summer at the Arboretum because she can take walks or breaks outside. It is the season that she can be outside the most. The Morton Arboretum is beautiful in the summer, and since we usually have an exhibit opening, Samantha enjoys the excitement that surrounds that.  She also thrives on Vitamin D!
 

What is the best part of your job?

The people at the Arboretum, and in particular the people in the Development Department, are the best part of Samantha’s job. Her role allows her to work on many different projects and with different staff. She likes the variety of her work and enjoys discovering new things about people through her research. Her work supports the gift officers and she likes providing the information needed to help reach our fundraising goals. Through her research, she learns what interests our members, when they visit, what events they attend, and if they volunteer. The research helps us engage our members and donors on an even deeper level with the Arboretum.
 

Do you have a favorite location on the grounds or a favorite tree?

Samantha’s favorite location is the Conifer Walk, largely because of its proximity to her building. The path is easily accessible for a quick break or a walk at lunch, and is beautifully landscaped and manicured with several benches. She enjoys the fact that you don’t have to go deep into the East or West Side to feel like you are in the middle of the Arboretum. 
 

What do you want our visitors to know about The Morton Arboretum and our mission?

The Arboretum is a beautiful place, but the research and education programs are a core part of our mission. Samantha encourages visitors to “dig in” and learn about the Arboretum through our science and education programs, including the Center for Tree Science and the Chicago Region Trees Initiative.  
 

What is an insider tip that you’d like to share with visitors?

Don’t park in Parking Lot 1. Bypass it and drive directly to the East or West Side. Hike to Big Rock on the East Side or venture over to the West Side to check out the Thornhill Education Center and the Fragrance Garden--it’s beautiful, and it smells good!
 

Share an interesting fun fact about you:

Samantha was a dancer in her earlier days. She started dancing when she was three years old and was an arts management and dance major at Oklahoma City University.  She went on to work at Hubbard Street Dance Chicago in fundraising, but also enjoyed taking their dance classes. She participates more as an audience member now than a performer, but still takes a class here and there. 
 

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August 2018

Patricia (Patti) MacMillan, Public Relations Specialist

 

Patti MacMillan standing in front of hydrangea bush in Ground Cover Carden

 

What is your favorite season at the Arboretum and why?

Patti’s favorite season is fall, and she felt that way even before working at The Morton Arboretum! The amazing fall color on display and the crisp autumn air are just part of the overall fall-season feeling. Patti does have a new appreciation for fall and nature since working here and is passing that down to her child, Will, age 2. When she reads Where the Wild Things Are to her son, he points out the trees instead of the creatures. 
 

What is the best part of your job?

The Arboretum is a beautiful place to come to work every day. Patti can step outside for a walk or a needed break from managing all the media requests for Troll Hunt! But working with the media is actually the best part of her job. Patti has welcomed the opportunity to grow her experience working with broadcast media and understanding their needs. She enjoys coordinating television shoots--just not necessarily being in them!
 

Do you have a favorite location on the grounds or a favorite tree?

Like many people, Patti calls the Ginkgo her favorite tree. It is not only the signature tree of the Arboretum, it’s easy to identify, too. Patti is partial to the West Side. She particularly likes Lake Marmo, and thinks visitors may overlook it at times because it has to be approached via the underpass. She always recommends the West Side when people ask where to visit. 
 

What do you want our visitors to know about The Morton Arboretum and our mission?

Explore beyond the Visitor Center area, particularly the West Side where visitors can find a lake, pond, the restored prairie, Joy Path and the Fragrance Garden. With regard to our mission, Patti hopes our visitors realize the impressive work that goes on at a global scale. Visitors and members should feel proud to support our mission to protect trees worldwide.
 

What is an insider tip that you’d like to share with visitors?

Wear the right shoes! She encourages our visitors to take their time along the trails and realize it’s not always about the destination. Also, breathe deeply!
 

Share an interesting fun fact about you:

Those who work with Patti in Marketing and Communications know she enjoys puns and wordplay. Last Halloween, Patti’s costume was a shirt that had a replica of a theater sitting above various words ironed to the shirt. She was dressed as a “play on words.” 
 
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July 2018

Theresa (Tess) Korreck, Visitor Services Assistant

 

Tess Korreck standing behind the Information Desk in the Visitor Center, smiling.

 

 

What is your favorite season at the Arboretum and why?

Hands down, Tess’s favorite season is fall.  Growing up in Michigan, she often enjoyed walks through colorful sugar maple forests during this time of year. In fall, she loves to do the same in the Arboretum’s East Woods where sugar maples are abundant. She enjoys cooler weather.  
 

What is the best part of your job?

For Tess, the best and most satisfying part of her job is being able to improve guests’ experiences by interpreting the Arboretum and its collections.  She feels gratified if she is able to answer a specific question that would otherwise remain obscure or unknown, whether the question is as general as “Can I drive around in my own car?” or as specific as “What species of bird did I just see during my walk?” In general, she enjoys being surrounded by this environment and appreciates the opportunity to take walks before or after work.


Do you have a favorite location on the grounds or a favorite tree?

In her own explorations, Tess happened upon the Spruce Plot on the West Side, and it has become her favorite destination. The trees form an outdoor cathedral of sorts. The area smells great and it’s quiet; the pine needles on the trail help to mute sound in a soothing way.


What do you want our visitors to know about The Morton Arboretum and our mission?

Visitors are always welcome to visit and enjoy, but Tess wants them to understand that the Arboretum is here because of human intervention and manmade work. Places and environments like The Morton Arboretum can be, and arguably should be, more common in the suburbs and city, if the population at large wanted to prioritize that effort.


What is an insider tip that you’d like to share with visitors?

From her personal experience, Tess highly recommends self-directed exploration.  The Troll Hunt exhibition is helping with that by getting visitors out into our collections, but she encourages guests to park in various lots and explore. The experience will be different each time.


Share an interesting fun fact about you:

She may be a tree hugger, but she is also an animal lover and was a zookeeper for many years before joining the Arboretum. She trained, fed, and picked up after everything from rabbits to African painted dogs to black rhinos and a bison herd. Tess met her husband while working at the zoo. She calls it a zoo romance!  Tess even lives on a park site that houses animals. She loves that she leaves one natural environment for another each day she comes to work.

 
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June 2018

Megan Koomen, Coordinator of School Programs

Megan Koomen kneeling with young boy looking at a leaf

 

What is your favorite season at the Arboretum and why?

Before Megan worked at The Morton Arboretum, her favorite season was dependent on where she was living. When she lived in Phoenix, her favorite season was winter, because the weather was tolerable at that time. When she lived on the east coast, it was fall, because of the beautiful colors. Now at the Arboretum, her favorite season is spring. Megan has a new respect for spring as she sees the brown earth flourish into a lively green.


What is the best part of your job?

In Megan’s eyes, there are so many! She enjoys the people, she loves that she loves her job, and that she comes in knowing that she is making a difference. She appreciates knowing that what she does matters.


Do you have a favorite location on the grounds or a favorite tree?

Megan’s favorite tree is a bur oak, and in particular, a bur oak near Parking Lot 20.  To Megan, it looks like the tree has stories to tell; it is old but strong. When Megan first began employment as an education program guide, she used to pass by it more often with her school groups, and thought there was more to it than meets the eye and felt a connection to this particular tree. She is also fond of another bur oak by Parking Lot 28.


What do you want our visitors to know about The Morton Arboretum and our mission?

While the Arboretum speaks for the trees, there is so much more to the organization. Trees are a network and part of an interconnected community. Our mission is to speak for that web that the trees belong to, which includes the soil, nutrients, and organisms. This same mission reflects in our own human lives: By trying to save the forests we are actually trying to save ourselves.


What is an insider tip that you’d like to share with visitors?

There’s more than just the Visitor Center. Come to the West Side!  Joy Morton’s former mansion, his library, and the cemetery are all treasures. Most of the education programs are run on the West Side, and chaperones and teachers tell Megan all the time that they didn’t know the Thornhill campus was even there. 


Share an interesting fun fact about you:

Megan is a published author who writes cozy mysteries under a pen name, “Megan Rivers.”  “Cozy” means there is no sex, swearing, or gore—the book is a “rainy day read.” She has published two books with a publisher, with a third on the way, in a planned series of six murder mysteries. She has also self-published three of her own works.

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May 2018 Tree Ambassador
Mary-Claire Glasenhardt, Prairie Restoration Research Assistant

Mary-Claire Glasenhardt standing in Ware Field with arm extended

What is your favorite season at the Arboretum and why?

Mary-Claire enjoys spring, as this is when things come back from dormancy.  Plants return from nothing, which is especially exciting in the Schulenberg Prairie, where the landscape literally turns from black to green.  Many visitors don’t experience the prairie after a prescribed burn, when, in the spring  a desolate carpet of black renews into a vibrant, lush green.  Mary-Claire likes the challenge of trying to figure out what’s out there as the plants start to re-emerge.


What is the best part of your job?

The people are really the core of the Arboretum.  The environment is a little more laid back than a corporate position.  Everyone is very engaged and dedicated to helping nature—it’s not just a show.  Some (staff and volunteers) are very adamant about their role here, but that’s a good thing.  Mary-Claire also embraces the opportunity to spend time with native species, which helps her better learn and understand the plants so she can provide education to her volunteers.  At one time she could only identify a plant by its flowers, but she can now identify a plant by other characteristics.


Do you have a favorite location on the grounds or a favorite tree?

The tulip tree behind the Research Center and near the staff parking lot.  It is an underappreciated native species, and this one is just such a wonderful, robust tree.  Staff gather at picnic tables under that tree for lunches or meetings, and it is the meeting location for fire drills!  Of course, Mary-Claire also loves the prairie, but given that it’s her job, that’s sort of expected.  


What do you want our visitors to know about The Morton Arboretum and our mission?

There is more to the Arboretum than just trees. They’re great, but Mary-Claire wants visitors to know about our restored indigenous tallgrass prairie.  The Schulenberg Prairie is one of the oldest restored native prairies in the world.  It represents the ecosystem that bestowed Illinois with its nickname, the Prairie State.  Now, there is only one-tenth of one percent of presettlement prairie left in Illinois.  This ecosystem is largely ignored, underappreciated and not protected.  Trees are big and respected, wetlands are beautiful and protected, but Mary-Claire loves prairies!


What is an insider tip that you’d like to share with visitors?

Weed early and often!  But here at the Arboretum, Mary-Claire just discovered this year the spring ephemeral wildflowers while visiting Daffodil Glade.  Native ephemerals such as spring beauty and trout lily can  be found scattered throughout the lawn by the glade, but most visitors only see the daffodils and miss the smaller, underlying plants.


Share an interesting fun fact about you:

Mary-Claire is a big Dungeons and Dragons geek.  She’s been playing off and on since she was 10 years old.  Her older brothers taught her how to play, and she looks forward to teaching her kids as well. The fifth edition is the easiest to learn and best for storytelling.  

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April 2018 Tree Ambassador

Miguel Diaz, Plant Production Assistant

April 2018 Tree Ambassador Miguel Cruz, Plant Production Assistant

What is your favorite season at the Arboretum and why?

Mike began his employment in July and it was hot—very hot!  While everything at the Arboretum was still beautiful, when fall came, the trees began to change and the temperature became more comfortable, making fall his favorite season thus far.  Mike has been looking forward to spring, but given the chilly temperatures we’ve experienced lately, spring has been elusive.


What is the best part of your job?

There are actually two distinct elements that Mike enjoys in his role as a plant production assistant. The physical aspect of his position finds him always moving, lifting, or carrying items, keeping him in shape.  The second element, which he enjoys just as much as the physical element,  is the ability to continuously learn.  Mike’s supervisors and colleagues are very generous  in sharing their knowledge; they take the time to teach him and others.  Even when Mike is tasked with a lengthy watering project, he will take the opportunity to look up the taxonomic names and related information about  the plants he is watering to expand his plant knowledge.


Do you have a favorite location on the grounds or a favorite tree?

Behind the Tree Breeding Nursery between P7 and P8 is a large collection of established  oak trees from the United States, Eastern Asia, Russia and Europe.  Mike enjoys seeing how they’ve evolved over time, and being able to compare them with the younger trees in the nursery and their different stages of growth.


What do you want our visitors to know about The Morton Arboretum and our mission?

The Arboretum is a living environment full of learning opportunities, not just a pretty park.  As a whole, the Arboretum is very laid-back and it’s really up to each visitor to determine how much they want to get out of their visit and how much they want to learn. We are all about the trees.


What is an insider tip that you’d like to share with visitors?

Get off the beaten path. Get out and walk the trails! If you are just taking in the Arboretum from a car, there is a lot that you can miss.  Oh, and don’t pet the black and white “cats”!


Share an interesting fun fact about you:

Mike was an executive in corporate Human Resources, before joining the Arboretum and wishes he had made the transition sooner!  He explored biology as a student before deciding to study psychology, and he is truly enjoying what he does and going back to his roots. His favorite part of HR was the training and development aspect, watching people grow and advance, just as he now watches plants grow and advance in Plant Production. Both respond well to a combination of nurturing and stress to become stronger and grow.  Mike enjoys his three-days-a-week schedule, which enables him  to spend time with his three grandchildren.