By Klaudia Szymankowski
As the winter season approaches and trees begin losing their colorful leaves, you can savor the last weeks of autumn by visiting the beautiful Morton Arboretum. The Morton Arboretum is a tree-focused botanical located in Lisle, Illinois, and is home to over 222,000 different tree and plant specimens. More than one million visitors come every year to enjoy the breathtaking scenery and exciting exhibitions. There is something for everyone to admire.
Are you a runner or cyclist? The Arboretum offers nine miles of roads to explore while you take in the wonders of nature.
The Human + Nature exhibition is a must-see for art lovers. Be amazed by sculptures as tall as 26 feet!
Jessica B. Turner-Skoff, a Treeologist-Science Communication Leader has been working with The Morton Arboretum for six years. Jessica’s involvement at the Arboretum includes a variety of duties, such as writing grants, attending tree plantings, and helping explain scientific concepts for the general public through press releases. She also is the co-host of Planted Podcast, which aims to educate students about STEM careers by hearing the experiences of plant professionals.
I had the pleasure to speak with Jessica via video chat about her journey to becoming a tree expert. ‘’I’ve always loved nature and being outside.’’ Jessica expressed that she likes to make a difference in the world, such as helping to advocate for trees.
In 2019 she published The Benefits of Trees for Livable and Sustainable Communities, a paper where she wrote about the impact that trees have on our planet. Jessica is never bored at The Morton Arboretum. She enjoys a variety of challenges and loves the people she works with. ‘’The people who work at The Morton Arboretum are amazing.’’
After hearing about the positive atmosphere, it was no surprise to hear that the Arboretum employs 200 full-time and 150 part-time employees! There are also over a thousand volunteers!
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Arboretum has made several adjustments. For employees, this meant a transition to work from home and establishing a hybrid workplace for people who didn’t need to be on-site every day. Since the passing of the State of Illinois Executive Order 2021-20, visitors are required to wear face masks indoors, regardless of their vaccination status. Per the order, people are also encouraged to wear masks in crowded outdoor settings.
One of the more popular events held at The Morton Arboretum is the Illumination: Tree Lights at The Morton Arboretum. If you find yourself missing the colors of spring or fall, you can still experience nature in a colorful way! The Arboretum brings the holiday spirit through 50 acres of lit trees. This year will be the ninth annual celebration and visitors are welcome to experience it on November 20, 2021-January 2, 2022. Tickets are available for purchase on the Arboretum website.
For further information on The Morton Arboretum——how to donate, find events, contact, and learn more——go to: mortonarb.org.