Adult Programs

Writing and Art Nature Retreat (in person)

Spend a day immersed in nature with guided writing and art workshops.

Content Detail

Spend a day immersed in nature with guided writing and art workshops. Set aside time to disconnect from the day-to-day and focus on the natural world through writing and art. Sessions will explore nature journaling, sketching, developing observation skills, and tapping into your creativity. Throughout the day, you will learn from professional writers and artists, take in the sites of the Arboretum, and explore nature with fellow creatives. Appropriate for all levels. Slow down and connect with nature.


COVID-19 Precautions: Program participants must abide by the Arboretum’s safety guidelines

This class will spend some time outdoors, weather permitting. 

8:30 to 10:00 a.m. The Art of Paying Attention Develop your observational skills and apply them to your writing through writing prompts and exercises.

10:00 to 11:30 a.m. Experimenting with Form Creativity strengthens with practice and openness to trying new forms. Listen to the voices of a diverse group of writers through guided readings, and be prompted to think about nature in fresh ways. Try new writing forms and see where the process takes you!

11:30 to 12:30 p.m. Lunch Break 

12:30 to 2:00 p.m. Sketching to Connect Sketching is a great way to slow down, observe, and connect with nature. Learn how to capture on paper what you see with your eye using a variety of simple techniques to capture the essence of your subject, the features of a scene, or a particular detail.

2:00 to 3:30 p.m. Putting It all Together: Nature Journaling Use sketching and words to capture snippets of nature in your journal. Learn how journaling can help you form a deeper connection with your surroundings. Practice simple techniques to develop your sketching and observation skills. 


  • This program will be held indoors and outdoors, weather permitting.
  • Dress for the weather, and be prepared to walk short distances on wood-chipped trails.
  • Limited to 35 participants.


  • Bring a journal or notebook, a sketch pad, and your favorite sketching supplies. 
  • Bring a beverage and snacks; lunch is on your own. 
  • Bring a sit pad, camp chair, or blanket if you would like, for outdoor writing and sketching. 

Cindy Crosby, author

Cindy Crosby is the author, compiler, or contributor to more than 20 books, including The Tallgrass Prairie: An Introduction, co-author of Tallgrass Conversations: In Search of the Prairie Spirit, and author of Chasing Dragonflies: A Natural and Cultural History (Northwestern University Press, 2020).

Cindy is a prairie steward at the Schulenberg Prairie and Nachusa Grasslands and coordinates dragonfly monitoring programs at both sites. She earned a Master’s Degree in Natural Resources at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. She blogs weekly at Tuesdays in the Tallgrass on WordPress and teaches natural history and trains naturalists in the Chicago region. Find out more on

Carrie Carlson, teacher

Carrie Carlson earned an MFA in Scientific Illustration at the University of Michigan and an MA in Printmaking from Governors State University. She is a full-time high school art teacher. In her free time, she loves to fill up travel sketchbooks and grow a rowdy garden.


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