Severson Dells to offer ‘Nature’s Apprentice’ class

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-116784927613694.jpg’, ‘Photo courtesy of’, ‘Nature’s Apprentice classes begin Jan. 8 at the Severson Dells Nature Center, 8786 Montague Rd. Pictured is the milkweed plant, common to northern Illinois. ‘);

Severson Dells Nature Center will offer a Nature’s Apprentice program from Jan. 8-March 15. The program, styled after master naturalist courses, will meet Mondays and Wednesdays for nine weeks. Classes will be held from 6-8:30 p.m. at Severson Dells Nature Center, 8786 Montague Rd., Rockford.

Keith Blackmore, a retired Highland Community College biology/ecology professor, will lead the class, which was made possible by a grant from the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois. The course will explore the geology, geography, plants, animals, habitat and ecosystems of northern Illinois, and the relationships we humans have with nature. Coursework will include lectures, labs and fieldwork. Course fees are $150. CPDU (Continuing Professional Development Units) will be offered for teachers. Class size will be limited. For more information, contact Brian Leaf at 335-2915. For a course syllabus, visit

“Dozens of organizations in northern Illinois have staffers and volunteers who teach others about nature,” said Brian Leaf, coordinator for the program at Severson Dells. “These people are passionate about the natural world. Many are lifelong learners devoted to continually increasing their knowledge so they can share it with others. This program will give them tools and background necessary to interpret the natural world for others.”

Severson Dells Nature Center was created in 1976 when Fannie Severson gave 369 acres of forest, prairie and farmland to the Winnebago County Forest Preserve District. While the center is housed in the Forest Preserve building, Nature Center programs and activities that more than 10,000 residents participate in each year are funded through a non-profit organization, the Severson Dells Education Foundation. Connie McIntosh of AMCORE is president of the board.

The Community Foundation of Northern Illinois, founded in 1953, is a public charity that grows and manages charitable assets for distribution to nonprofit organizations and programs serving the northern Illinois region. The Foundation evaluates and helps coordinate needs with services, so that charitable gifts are used effectively to address our community’s most critical needs. In the past 10 years, the Community Foundation has given more than $30 million in grants to charitable community projects and organizations.

From the Jan. 3-9, 2007, issue

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