JJC Co-Hosts the Community Habitat Symposium

Joliet Junior College’s Department of Natural Sciences and the Kankakee Torrent Chapter of the Illinois Native Plant Society will host the Community Habitat Symposium on February 24 and 25. 

JJC building overlooking the natural landscape of campus.
JJC building overlooking the natural landscape of campus.
Credit: Joliet Junior College

The symposium will inform community members about native and invasive species in the area and how the natural habitat can be restored. 

“Maintaining a home garden and managing larger public natural areas is important for helping native plants survive in a landscape that has lost too many populations to human development,” says JJC professor of natural sciences, Andrew Neill. 

The symposium’s keynote speaker is Gerald W. Adelmann. He’s the executive director of Openlands, a nonprofit dedicated to preserving the natural landscape in Illinois.

The event will take place at Joliet Junior College’s U Building. There is a fee of $30 per person to attend, which includes morning snacks and choice of a lunch. After Feb. 9, the registration cost is $35. Spots are limited to 125 people. Online registration can be made here.  

Participants will choose to attend one of two tracks at the symposium. “At Home with Native Plants” is geared towards creating a yard with native plants. The second track, “Acres of Prairie, Savanna, Woods and Work,” offers information about restoring larger native communities. 

Each track will feature guest presenters from the area. That includes Allison Cisneros, a JJC alumna and volunteer coordinator for the U.S. Forest Service at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie.

Neill says that only 0.01 percent of Illinois’ native grassland is left in the state. Because of the deterioration in the landscape, many of the state’s native plants and animals are threatened.

JJC has worked to eliminate the invasive species on campus. It has removed almost all of the invasive European buckthorn and has replaced it with native plants. According to Neill, non-native species like the European buckthorn take over the area and choke out native prairie plants and grasses. 

He uses this area of campus as an outdoor laboratory for students to learn about native and non-native species, and show how ecologists can restore these areas back to their natural landscapes. February’s symposium is an extension of this information to the community. 

For more information contact Scott Harvey, communications and media coordinator, at 815-280-2844 or sharvey@jjc.edu.