Natural Resources Aide
What is your favorite season at the Arboretum and why?
The woodlands explode in color and the ephemeral flowers bloom in spring, making it Mike’s favorite season. Spring is a time when life returns to the East Woods, and a half-acre carpet of Virginia bluebells emerges. Mike appreciates that you don’t see this kind of awakening anywhere else, making the Arboretum a special place in spring.
What is the best part of your job?
The best part of Mike’s job is absolutely the people with whom he works. He refers to it as a work family, where he enjoys spending all day with his team in a fun atmosphere. Mike recounts working diligently in the natural areas and laughing, sharing stories with his co-workers. He enjoys spending time in the woods, though as an employee, Mike doesn’t see this as a job; rather, he feels he is being paid through his work experiences as well.
Do you have a favorite location on the grounds or a favorite tree?
Mike’s favorite tree is the bur oak because it is long-lived and strong. He loves the way the branches bend down to the ground, making it easy for kids to climb. Born and raised in Minnesota, Mike spent a good part of his childhood climbing many trees himself, and he appreciates when others are able to enjoy that same experience.
What do you want guests to know about The Morton Arboretum and its mission?
The Arboretum is more than the Visitor Center and the Children’s Garden. In his role, Mike has met people who weren’t aware that there was more to the Arboretum than these central areas. His mission is to educate guests about the East Woods or the Schulenberg Prairie. Mike recommends going to P8, getting out of the car, and doing a loop on the trails as getting out in nature and exercising is good for the mind and body.
When thinking of the Arboretum’s Employee Core Values, which one resonates with you and why?
The Employee Core Value to “Work Together” absolutely resonates with Mike. His team works in groups of threes, and when they work together, they can divide and conquer the work to be done in a timely manner. Working together also allows for sharing of knowledge, as well as building camaraderie. As Mike mentioned, he sees the Arboretum as a family and he appreciates having other adults with whom to converse and share stories.
What’s an insider tip that you’d like to share with guests?
Mike’s insider tip is to simply look up! There is a whole canopy of ecosystems in the woodlands. Look at what is going on up above you.
Share an interesting fun fact about you:
Mike is an active certified flight instructor and belongs to a club that has two small airplanes. While he’s had his pilot’s license since 1989, he just received his rating as a flight instructor this year. He refers to his flights as drilling holes in the sky for fun. Several Arboretum employees have benefitted from his talents. He has taken staff up for flights that include a city loop, taking in the lakeshore and city skyline, and then coming through DuPage County to fly over the Arboretum. Mike also dabbles in aerial photography, which has been interesting to use as his team has been restoring Big Rock Meadow. He captured images before and after the restoration, photographing areas that were brown and then turned to green, demonstrating the progress being made.