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We moved the Chicago Wilderness Congress online, so participants have access to the latest thinking about the region's most pressing conservation issues. 

Powerpoints of past sessions are available below. Learn about upcoming sessions

Session 1: Tue, May 12

Budburst: Community Science for Education, Research, and Action (download pdf here)

Learn about Budburst, a community science project of the Chicago Botanic Garden, including the mission and history, participation and partnership opportunities, and research outcomes. Budburst was founded to connect people with the local impacts of climate change by monitoring the timing of plant life cycle events (phenology) in their communities. More recently it has expanded to include time bound research projects related to phenology and plant-animal interactions. We will introduce the project, teach attendees how to participate, and illustrate the value of these data. Budburst builds healthy communities by connecting people with plants, increasing scientific literacy, and contributing to our understanding of global environmental change. 

Jennifer Schwarz Ballard, Chicago Botanic Garden
Kayri Havens, Chicago Botanic Garden

What’s Agriculture Got to Do With It?
(download pdf here)

Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP)'s "ON TO 2050" plan calls for identifying and protecting agricultural lands of long-term commercial significance as a key strategy for the region’s prosperity and resilience. We'll discuss how to proactively plan for agricultural lands to remain part of our regional fabric, and the many benefits farmland can provide within a green infrastructure framework, including a base land supply for a diversified agricultural economy, food security in the face of climate change, biodiversity and habitat, and carbon sequestration.  Panelists will also share their experiences through current projects and programs across multiple sectors. Topic Areas: Green Infrastructure, Urban Ecosystems, Regenerative Agricultural

Brandon Hayes, Bold Bison Consulting

Panelists (subject to change): 
Emy Brawley, The Conservation Fund 
Tyler Strom, Illinois Agri-Food Alliance
Janice Hill, Kane County Farmland Preservation

Session 2: Tue, May 26

StormStore: Stormwater Credit Trading
(download pdf here)

Our region is faced with more frequent and consequential impacts from urban flooding. Excess stormwater degrades water quality of our river systems and burdens people, often with lower-income individuals and communities of color disproportionately enduring the worst impacts. TNC and MPC have worked with MWRD to assess the feasibility of stormwater credit trading as an innovative tool for encouraging more strategic and equitable distribution of natural stormwater infrastructure. This session will explain the functionality and benefits of stormwater credit trading models; introduce MWRD’s pilot program; identify pathways for participation; and showcase how stormwater credit trading might be applied through scenarios. 

Jennifer Jenkins, The Nature Conservancy
Ryan Wilson, Metropolitan Planning Council
Kimberly Du Buclet, MWRD Commissioner

Urban Soils Workshop
(download pdf here)

Soils are an integral part of any ecosystem, yet are often overlooked. Urban soils are very heterogeneous; that is they can vary tremendously over a short distance.  Many urban soils have been subjected to repeated damage from construction, contamination, and neglect, and therefore behave unlike natural soils. Promoting healthy communities for people and nature starts at the ground, with the soil. This webinar will discuss differences between natural and urban soils.  We will focus on free online resources provided by the Natural Resource Conservation Service.  We will explore the tools and applications available, such as the Web Soil Survey, how to assess soil health, and the benefits of building your own portable soil quality test kit.  The goal is to provide participants with science-driven resources and an opportunity to continue learning.  Additional resources: Basic Soil Background, Web Soil Survey Guide and Case Study, Online Urban Soils Resources

Michelle Catania, The Morton Arboretum
Allyson Salisbury, The Morton Arboretum