Nature is in a state of flux, according to Brook McDonald.
As the president of The Conservation Foundation, he, along with his staff, have continued to work with different Illinois counties and figure out ways to better take care of their neighboring communities.
“We play a key role in determining whether that change is good or bad,” Brook said about the responsibility people, whether they are local municipal leaders or homeowners, have when it comes to knowing the health of their environment.
That’s where the DuPage Environmental Summit comes in.
The idea behind the event is simple: bring people together in one room, expose them to a network of resources and educate them, said Jan Roehll, the foundation’s DuPage County program director.
This year's summit will be held from 7:30 a.m. to noon. Jan. 31 at the NIU Naperville Meeting and Conference Center, 1120 E Diehl Rd, Naperville.
Light breakfast snacks, a featured exhibit and speaking engagements from Chicagoland-based experts and researchers sum up what the event has to offer.
The summit, The Environmental Pulse of DuPage, pays homage to the first one, which was held 15 years ago and focused on a theme that discussed “The State of Our Environment,” McDonald said.
From improving DuPage County’s water quality to preserving its natural areas and creating room for more renewable energy tactics, McDonald sought to revisit some of these issues that are still prioritized today and address how climate change could affect those efforts.
“We always have to be cognizant of how climate change may be impacting how the ecosystems evolve,” he said. “The more we understand that, the more we can apply appropriate management techniques.
“We've already seen in some places in this country – even in southern Illinois – we're starting to see a plant species move northward because of a warming trend. So, the ranges of plants and animals will change and adjust as climate change impacts are our environment even more.”
McDonald and Roehll pointed to one of their guest speakers, Doug Stotz, a senior conservation ecologist at the Field Museum in Chicago. Stotz will talk about how climate change impacts bird migration, a presentation McDonald said that is not only interesting but “even a little scary.”
The list of guests rounds out with keynote speaker Katherine Moore Powell, climate change ecologist at the Field Museum’s Keller Science Action Center; Erik Neigy, director of natural resources at the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County; Stephen McCracken, director of watershed protection at The Conservation Foundation; and Lisa Albrecht, vice president of the Illinois Solar Energy Association.
The Conservation Foundation partnered with several organizations like the DuPage Foundation, the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County, Christopher B. Burke Engineering and DuPage County/Cool DuPage in order to truly localize the summit as well as to make it free for attendees.
For McDonald and Roehll, they designed it with the hopes that people will take advantage of the opportunity and walk away with some inspiration to create change.
“We hope that they learn some new things and hope that they take away some ideas of things that they could do either themselves individually or through their business or to their neighborhood or their community,” McDonald said. “We always encourage some action. Knowledge is only so good if you don't apply it and make the world a better place.\