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Monthly Tree Ambassador

March 2021

Vice President of Collections and Facilities

Kris Bachtell, smiling, standing in front of a State Street Miyabe maple tree

What is your favorite season at the Arboretum and why?

Even though Chicago is known as the Windy City, Kris is not necessarily a fan of wind, and as such, his favorite season is fall, not just for the fall color and mild temperatures, but also because fall is typically not a windy season. Recent weather in the area substantiates Kris’s claims!
 

What is the best part of your job?

Not surprising, the best part of Kris’s job, as well as the best part about working at The Morton Arboretum, is his ability to learn more about plants every day. Because his role involves both grounds and strategic responsibilities, he has to work harder to stay in tune with the plants in the collection than he used to. He is observant of his environment, which still presents frequent opportunities for him to learn.
     

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

Asking the vice president of collections and facilities his favorite location or favorite tree is like asking a chef what their favorite food might be. While there are many, Kris noted a few of his top choices. One location is in the Maple Collection near an old building foundation on a little knoll that provides a great vista point. Another favorite is the Conifer Collection, often referred to as the pinetum. Some of Kris’s favorite views though are in the Korea Collection when looking north from the south over the large detention basin. This view is particularly nice when the mature Sargent’s cherries are in flower, as well as the view east from the bridge near Sterling Pond in fall. As far as trees go, one favorite of Kris’s is a Miyabe maple at the base of Joy Path that is the original source tree for the State Street clonal selection. And in staying true with one of his favorite collections, there is a large hybrid pine in the pinetum that he finds majestic.
 

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

Kris encourages visitors to appreciate the Arboretum for what the open space provides. The Morton Arboretum can be so many different things to a lot of different people. Visitors may appreciate it for the gardens or plants, the natural areas, and even the wildlife. 
 

When thinking of the Arboretum’s Employee Core Values, which one resonates with you and why?

When The Morton Arboretum unveiled the Employee Core Values in 2019, Kris was tapped to speak on the value to Keep Learning. As a lifelong learner, Kris knows to keep his eyes and ears open, because even as he nears 40 years of employment at the Arboretum this November, he appreciates that he can learn something every day just by observing and seeing. Kris understands and has respect for what nature can do and appreciates that it is one of the great things about his profession.
 

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

While it may be harder to do these days with technology at our fingertips, Kris’s inside tip is a simple one; turn yourself ‘off’ and enjoy a walk in nature. For some little known facts, Barney Mills Road goes through the Heritage Trail on the East Side, and it  used to lead to a sawmill that was down on the river. And for visitors near Lake Marmo, it’s interesting to note that Native American camps existed there prior to development of the area. 
 

Share an interesting fun fact about you:

Kris’s interest in trees was spurred by his first-grade teacher, Mrs. Clayton, who every Friday would lead his class on a hike in the Thorn Creek Woods near Chicago Heights, mainly on a bird watching expedition, but it opened the door for Kris’s future career path. He visited The Morton Arboretum for the first time in eighth grade, when his brother-in-law was a graduate student working on white oak root systems and their symbiotic relationship with soil fungi with Dr. George Ware, the Arboretum’s former director of research. As a child, Kris would find himself climbing through the woods for hours, playing baseball in a prairie/oak savannah, and sledding in the Thorn Creek Woods, where it all started. In fact, Kris collected seeds from the redbuds in those woods and brought them to the Arboretum’s collections for study, preservation, and propagation. Kris was truly bred to be a tree champion.
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February 2021

Anne Klos, Human Resources Manager

Anne Klos standing in a grove of snow covered trees

What is your favorite season at the Arboretum and why?

Anne has waited a long time to be able to answer that question, so she could use the phrase “Fall of them!” While Anne has always loved fall, but since she has been working at The Morton Arboretum, she has a new appreciation for winter and the serenity of being outside during this underappreciated season.
 

What is the best part of your job?

Partnering with colleagues, not only within the Human Resources Department, but also with managers especially as we Work Together to make the Arboretum the best workplace it can be for staff. While Anne likes trees, she likes working with the humans, thus keeping the human in human resources.
     

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

It’s very difficult for Anne to select just one. The Spruce Plot is definitely on the top of her list, but in particular, there is a Norway Spruce at top of Frost Hill on the Northern Illinois Trail near P3 that seems to be reaching out its branches to hug her. It gives Anne the feeling that instead of her being a tree hugger, the tree is hugging her.
 

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

While it’s likely been said before, Anne wants people to know that the Arboretum has so many experts in their respective fields, and our staff and visitors can learn from them. It’s likely that the general population doesn’t know how much research is truly taking place; many think we’re just a walk in the woods. 
 

When thinking of the Arboretum’s Employee Core Values, which one resonates with you and why?

Without a doubt, Anne especially relates with the Employee Core Value to Make the Arboretum Exceptional, because the level at which the Arboretum operates is so high. Maybe at other places in the world, good is acceptable, but the Arboretum is always striving for and providing that higher level of exceptionality. The Arboretum is a good fit for Anne because she tends to set high standards for herself, as well. 
 

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

As a walking enthusiast, Anne recommends that visitors come early to walk the grounds. Each day before Anne settled into her office, she would take a morning stride around the grounds. While others may be looking for the peaceful settings in this early hour, Anne likes seeing the Arboretum come to life. Anne feels that  this is when all the magic is happening; the horticulturists are making the Arboretum look exceptional, and the humming of the blowers and equipment is soothing to her.
 

Share an interesting fun fact about you:

Using her psychology degree, Anne has self-diagnosed herself as addicted to nature. She can’t go a day without being outside, even in these frigid temperatures. Don’t get her wrong though, she also loves being outside in warmer climates, especially at the beach. Family is very important to her, and pre-COVID she enjoyed spending time with extended family and convening for weekly family dinners. She looks forward togathering with her family again in the hopefully near future.
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January 2021

Patricia (Patty) Arend, Development Coordinator, Operations

Patt Arend sitting on a snowy flagstone ledge with the word trees spelled out in pine cones

What is your favorite season at the Arboretum and why?

Patty likes them all, because she likes change, but if she had to pick just one, it would be spring. Patty enjoys the additional sunlight and the longer days, and spring provides more energy for her than the other seasons. As an avid walker though, winter is one of her favorite times to hike at the Arboretum, enjoying the peace that winter brings. 

 

What is the best part of your job?

Patty’s role is making sure money from memberships and donations to the Arboretum is reported accurately, working closely with the staff in the Business Office. Patty appreciates that on a daily basis she gets to see how many loyal and generous donors and members the Arboretum has. Patty feels good to be working at a place of which she is proud. 
     

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

Her favorite location is really more of a route that encompasses her favorite walking path starting at P8 on the East side, going through the Spruce Plot and heading over to the East Woods to walk the Woodland Trail. There is a flagstone bench in the Spruce Collection where she will often find words made of pine cones or leaves.
 

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

Patty feels there is always more that she can learn about the Arboretum and its mission. In particular, she would like our visitors to understand that it’s not just a pretty place to come and be with nature. The research work we are doing is valuable, and everyone can play a part to plant and protect trees. There is more to the Arboretum than just some of our great events, such as Illumination. 
 

When thinking of the Arboretum’s Employee Core Values, which one resonates with you and why?

Patty was part of the committee that was key in helping to shape the Employee Core Values as we know them today, so she has intimate knowledge behind their meaning. Which one specifically resonates with her though does change from time to time, depending on her role at the time. Right now, Keep Learning is top of mind as the Development team is migrating to a new Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) system. Patty is being challenged to learn the new system and new ways to do things. All of the values are important, but right now, she is focused on Keeping Learning. 
 

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

Come to the Arboretum early! Patty has been there at times when she has not seen another individual except for the gatehouse staff member. In those early hours, a person can feel like you have the place to yourself and you are the only person there on 1,700 acres. 
 

Share an interesting fun fact about you:

As a walking enthusiast, Patty decided that she was going to walk all of the Arboretum’s wood chipped trails in 2020, which she completed in December. This year, she’s decided that she is going to walk all of the trails in all four seasons. Good luck Patty!