Program Draws People of Faith to Stories of Illinois Coast

The Takeaway: Thousands took part in the “Migration & Me,” program spotlighting the journeys of butterflies, bees, and people, with support from the Illinois Coastal Management Program.

Bee lands on purple flower with yellow center.
Bee pollination, as described by two of Faith in Place’s eco-ambassadors, is critical to nurturing plant and animal life. Photo credit: Getty Images

Many people of faith treasure the natural world as a reflection of divine abundance and perfection. In Illinois, thousands in this community took part in “Migration & Me,” a stewardship and education program that linked personal migration histories to the migration sagas of Lake County’s butterflies, bees, and other coastal creatures. Even COVID’s in-person restrictions didn’t dampen enthusiasm for events that took place online and, occasionally, outdoors. Offerings included virtual bird watching and hiking excursions, youth activities, and outreach to nurture the endangered monarch butterfly. The nonprofit organization Faith in Place led the multi-partner effort. It was supported by a grant from the Illinois Coastal Management Program, part of the Department of Natural Resources.

As COVID restrictions loomed in 2020, project partners pivoted swiftly to an online platform. At least 5,838 viewers enjoyed video nature hikes and birding tours—in English and Spanish—through social media, Facebook Live watch parties, and posted video content. Viewers “traveled” the Greenbelt Forest Preserve, Waukegan Municipal Beach, and Lyons Woods Forest Preserve.

In addition, 20 appointed “green team” members pitched in on environmental education. Twenty Waukegan residents helped distribute 300 milkweed plants (the exclusive food source for monarch butterflies), with bilingual guidance on planting butterfly gardens. Ten youth eco-ambassadors enjoyed a summer youth program and delivered ecological presentations. And 19 people participated in migration story circles.

View the Faith in Place website to learn more about its environmental education and stewardship offerings. (2023)

Partners: Audubon Great Lakes, Faith in Place, Field Museum, Illinois Coastal Management Program, Waukegan Park District