Laura Kamedulski, Coordinator of Youth and Family Programs
What is your favorite season at the Arboretum and why?
Laura loves being asked that question! For her, summer is her favorite season because of the energy and fun activities in the Children’s Garden, where much of her work is based. And, she doesn’t have to wear a coat! While she enjoys spring for blooms and fall for the colors, she notices the many shades of green that appear throughout our growing season.
What is the best part of your job?
Seeing her audience connecting with her or with the subject matter she is presenting is extremely gratifying for Laura. When she sees kids spellbound by the story she is reading, she knows she is cultivating a connection with nature. She likes seeing families enjoying their time together and relaxing during the family tram rides aboard the Acorn Express. The same holds true as she leads Forest Therapy Walks for adults: seeing them tune in and letting things go for a few hours. Laura also works closely with the Youth Volunteers in the Children’s Garden, and she feels a sense of pride when they graduate each year, seeing how much they have grown in their skills and confidence, knowing that she had a hand in connecting them to the Arboretum.
Do you have a favorite location on the grounds or a favorite tree?
Laura’s favorite destinations are the elevated spots in the Arboretum, where she can look down and see a bigger view. Seeing the vistas from places like Frost Hill, Thornhill, or her newest location, atop the berm where Joe the Guardian stands watch, allows her a broader picture of the Arboretum. Other favorite locations include P11 by the bluebells, and the Evergreen Lookout in the Children’s Garden. As a Forest Therapy guide, Laura has also been connecting more with trees, and she has developed a fondness for the bur oak, persimmon, and miyabe maple.
What do you want our visitors to know about The Morton Arboretum and our mission?
Like many staff members, Laura wants our visitors to know that we have a team of scientists working on advancing tree health on many different fronts. She also encourages visitors to notice things in nature. Nature always has something new to notice. Using the senses is a very rewarding experience, along with slowing down and being in the frame of mind to appreciate nature and the Arboretum’s role in that.
What is an insider tip that you’d like to share with visitors?
When the Children’s Garden closes at the end of the day, Laura often finds herself offering tips to visitors on what else they can do. She often suggests hiking from certain parking lots. P29 is one of her go-to suggestions, so visitors can find the troll hideout. She recommends the prairie even in the winter, when the beauty is seen in curled and polka-dot prairie dock leaves.
Share an interesting fun fact about you:
Laura is part of the Maxwell Street Foundation, a historic preservation group that worked to preserve the Maxwell Street Market neighborhood on Chicago's Near West Side. Laura and the foundation lobbied the city and the University of Illinois at Chicago to save and relocate some of the buildings, which can be seen on the 700 block of Maxwell Street. Laura became involved in this project through her interest in urban history. She appreciated the Maxwell Street Market as a public place with a friendly spirit and unique energy through its people, shopping, food, and music.