Spying on Nature in Illinois

Image of squirrel in IllinoisWhere in the world is The Humane Gardener? Goose Lake Prairie, Ill.

20733027_10210172381328479_1583332065_nWho’s reading: Lisa Sherman

How she helps nature: Lisa launched Spying on Nature Together (@spyingonnature2together) on Instagram to share the joy of discovery. She en

courages families to post their images of animals, plants, and other treasures they find together outdoors. “It all started with taking my kids on hikes and being desperate for them to be quiet so I could hear the birds,” she says. “But now it’s just how we do nature. Quietly, spying and learning.”

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They go to Goose Lake Prairie, a state natural area, several times a week to watch birds and learn about prairie grasses and native wildflowers. Exciting encounters with animals have included meeting a red admiral butterfly, a mama squirrel and a young turtle.

Image of Lisa Sherman in nature class
Lisa Sherman engages kids in nature through books, bird call recordings, and natural treasures found during her outdoor adventures with her family.

The Shermans’ adventures inform Lisa’s nature classes, where she brings found treasures such as feathers, rocks, skulls, seeds, abandoned nests, cicada shells, and honeycombs. Many adults she knows fear the species in their own backyards, so Lisa is determined to break the cycle by reaching young people: “We have to teach kids if this mindset is every going to change.”

Image of HG book with field guidesHow The Humane Gardener has inspired her: “I’ve been so inspired by this book! I want to learn all about allowing our space to be a safe haven for wildlife,” says Lisa, who is letting the thistle grow for goldfinches outside her back door. “And already my thoughts and feelings on different insects and animals have softened.”

From fledgling cardinals to ground squirrels, Lisa welcomes them all to her yard. She has even advised an insect-wary friend of the benefits of aphids, describing the sweet honeydew substance they produce for ants and bees.

Image of tree by Lisa Sherman

The sight of mowed-down wildflower meadows “kills me now,” Lisa says. “I don’t understand how people don’t care to see the world around them as something to protect—but instead they are bothered by the creation all around them. Your book has sort of flipped a switch for me. And it will be given as a gift many times!”

Where will The Humane Gardener sprout next? Tell us your story!

*All photos courtesy of Lisa Sherman

Cultivating compassion for all creatures great and small

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