Forest Preserve District announces Winter Lecture Series Schedule


BYRON – The Byron Forest Preserve district will again be offering their popular free winter lectures on Sunday afternoons starting at 2 p.m. from Feb. 10 through March 10 at the award-winning Jarrett prairie Center Museum, 7993 North River Road in Byron.

The lectures are designed for lifelong learners (middle school aged students through senior adults).  No advance registration is required. For more information call the Byron Forest Preserve District at 815 234-8535, Ext. 200 or visit their website at

 Corn: How it changed itself and then changed everything else

Join writer and food historian, Cynthia Clampitt to learn about the history of corn on Feb. 10.

About 10,000 years ago, a weedy grass growing in Mexico possessed a strange trait known as a “jumping gene” transforming itself into a large and more useful grass - the cereal grass that we would come to know as maize and then corn.  Nurtured by prehistoric farmers, this grain would transform the Americas even before first European contact. After first contact, it would span the globe, with mixed results, but for newcomers to North America it would expand its influence and help create the economy of the Midwest. Today, we have become dependent on the production of corn more than ever.

 Restoring Soil Habitats to Rebuild Biodiversity and Prairie Ecosystems

 Dr. Elizabeth Bach, The Nature Conservancy’s Nachusa Grasslands Ecosystem Restoration Scientist, will discuss the importance of understanding soil biodiversity, soil habitats and the microbial communities that effect where plants grow best on Feb. 17.

Much More than Just the Jarrett Prairie: The Many Natural Areas of the Byron Forest Preserve District

On Feb. 24, Russell Brunner, Superintendent of Land Management with the Byron Forest Preserve District, will provide background information and an overview of the natural features of each of the District’s best known and lesser known preserves.  The District owns and manages about 2,000 acres of natural areas divided up amongst nine different preserves that have been protected for the preservation of specific habitats, wildlife and public enjoyment.

 Charles Darwin: Journey of Discovery

 Chicago actor R.J. Lindsey will portray English naturalist, geologist and biologist Charles Darwin. Learn about Darwin’s five year around the world trip and the many natural wonders that he uncovered along the way that led to the development of his theory of evolution. March 3.

 The Secret Life of Paleo-Indians

On March 10, Dr. Thomas Loebel, Statewide Cultural Resources Coordinator with the Illinois State Archaeological Survey will present his research regarding Paleo-Indians in Illinois and Wisconsin who were adjusting to a rapidly changing environment at the end of the last Ice Age (12,000 BC).