What does it mean to be an older woman working in conservation? Join this lecture at The Morton Arboretum and celebrate the lasting influence of May Watts, one of the twentieth century’s great conservationists, and explore what this legacy means for women today who are seeking to make a difference.
May Theilgaard Watts, the beloved naturalist, writer, poet, illustrator, and educator, was an influential figure in conservation, and she completed her most important conservation work in her later years. Watts began teaching at The Morton Arboretum in her late forties, where her tireless work engaging others with the natural world had a ripple effect that still influences the Chicago region 80 years later. When she was age sixty-six, her classic book, Reading the Landscape, was published. In her seventies, her dedicated activism led to the creation of the Illinois Prairie Path, a rails-to-trails program that continues today.
In a field historically dominated by men, May Watts made a mark advocating for conservation and inspiring future generations to take up the work as naturalists, writers, and educators. No matter what your age or gender identity, you’ll be inspired by Watts’ story.
This program meets in person at The Morton Arboretum and will also be broadcast live online via Zoom.
To attend in person, register for Section A. To attend online, register for Section B.
Instructors: Cindy Crosby, author and naturalist, and Rita Hassert, library collections manager, The Morton Arboretum
Health and Safety: Program participants must abide by the Arboretum’s health and safety guidelines. Guidelines are subject to change, so please check back frequently.
Age: 16 and older
This program is part of the Women and the Environment Series. Register for the other sessions:
Friday, March 10: Gidinawendimin: We Are All Connected with Dr. Wendy Makoons Geniusz
Friday, March 17: Conserving Biodiversity with Dr. Tanisha Williams, founder of #blackbotanistsweek
Friday, March 31: Soil Sisters: How Local Women Are Caring for the Land with Heather Lynch