Field Station at
Students in Geography and Environmental Studies have the opportunity to work with the nationally-known McHenry County Conservation District on a wide range of environmental projects. This is often as interns, and sometimes in the context of field research for theses, research papers, or class projects. The District provides access to almost 20,000 acres of natural areas, two field stations, and it also provides limited short-term housing.
The conservation district, north and west of Chicago's Cook County, was formed 35 years ago by citizen mandate to maintain open lands for purposes of conseservation, education and recreation. Since that time the District has preserved and restored nearly 20,000 acres throughout the county. The conservation areas, which vary in size, safeguard many unique ecosystems, including fens, bogs, seeps and marshes; glacial kames and eskers; and virgin black soil and hill prairies. The District's largest site, Glacial Park, spreads over 3,000 acres and includes hundreds of acres of restored wetlands, prairies, and oak savannas. Glacial Park is home to the Wiedrich Education Center, the District's intern housing, the Powers-Walker historical homestead, and the Field Research Center. Geographic Information Systems are used to assist a variety of projects. These include the rechanneling of Nippersink Creek, one of the largest channel restoration projects ever completed in the Midwest.
A second education center, Prairieview, serves the southern half of the county as part of the Silver Creek Conservation Area Macrosite. The administrative offices and MCCD police department are located in the western section of the county.
MCCD's restoration-and-education orientation allows student interns to work in various capacities, often under several different specialists. District staff fills diverse roles such as field education, natural resource management, wildlife and native plant interpretation and management, site maintenance, law enforcement and various administrative functions. Research is conducted with joint supervision of MCCD professionals and university faculty.