Urban Conservation

Wild Indigo Nature Explorations

Free field trips and indoor programming at Cook County Forest Preserves.

Nambii and Mr. Howard of Eden Place Nature Center

Created in 2013, Wild Indigo Nature Explorations introduces residents of Chicago’s South Side and south suburbs to the biodiversity of the Calumet Region, engages them in its care, and builds ownership for sustainable stewardship of specific preserves. Through a framework of culturally resonant activities about local natural areas, Wild Indigo facilitates local residents in writing a new chapter in the Calumet region’s natural history: one of empowerment and ownership through knowledge, understanding, and conservation.

Wild Indigo’s messages and activities are designed in collaboration with its founding partners and local community-based organizations. The program employs fellows from our areas of focus who serve as both conservationists and local role-models for program participants. Since its creation, the Wild Indigo Fellows have partnered with more than a dozen community groups, hosted or co-facilitated over 50 events and enjoyed the company of almost 2,000 participants.

Toni Preckwinkle, Cook County Board President, wrote in The New York Times, “While our picnic groves and trails are popular across racial and ethnic lines, more immersive nature opportunities remain dominated by white residents. One of our top priorities is engaging underserved groups through efforts like Wild Indigo Nature Explorations, where outreach fellows from the South Side lead community excursions to the preserves.” By prioritizing dialogue with community members and organizations, Wild Indigo is encouraging mutually beneficial relationships between people and their local natural areas and creating a strong sense of ownership and pride of the region’s unique natural and cultural heritage.

Contact us at wildindigo@audubon.org or call 312-453-0230 x 2005 for information about coming field trips, indoor programs, or partnering with us.

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