Skokie Nature with Neighbors
Step outside, enjoy the moment, and learn from nature’s library! The Skokie Nature with Neighbors project is a place to share observations of plants and animals with the community using iNaturalist. Build skills for identifying wildlife while contributing to everyone's understanding of the biodiversity in Skokie.
Download our PDF guide to local nature.
Contribute Your observations
Take photos of interesting plants, animals, and insects you see around you and upload them to iNaturalist. If you're within the geographic boundaries of Skokie, your photo will be automatically added to the Skokie Nature with Neighbors project. It's alright if you don't know the name of a something. The app will provide suggestions. If the app can't identify it, other community members may provide suggestions.
You can also learn the names of interesting plants and animals around you and record your favorites using the Seek app.
Seek gives you badges for finding new observations and provides challenges to follow, making it feel a little like a game. It does not have any community sharing features.
Watch a video tutorial on using Seek.
Visit Local Nature Preserves
You can observe nature in your backyard, walking around your neighborhood, or by making a special trip to a local nature preserve.
Before visiting any of these areas, we recommend calling ahead or checking their website for hours and restrictions.
- Emily Oaks Nature Center is part of the Skokie Park District and has 13 acres of savanna with wildlife and native plants to explore, observe, and document.
- Skokie Lagoons is one of the Forest Preserves of Cook County that provides a habitat for wildlife like ducks, herons, foxes, and a variety of fish.
- Ladd Arboretum hosts the Evanston Ecology Center, which includes a bird sanctuary and a walking and biking trail.
- North Park Village Nature Center has trails that wind through woodland, wetland, prairie and savanna, all within its 46 acre nature preserve.
- Chicago Botanic Garden cultivates 27 gardens and 4 natural areas while providing online information about horticulture and conservation practices.
- The Morton Arboretum is an outdoor museum of trees with programs and classes to learn about nature.
Have you taken a picture of something really cool that you saw while exploring, but you don't know how to identify what it is? Learn three techniques for identifying images in this video from library Information Specialist Martha.
- Watch our series of Backyard Birding videos.
- The National Audubon Society has a free online bird guide to help learn about more than 800 North American bird species.
- Cornell Lab of Ornithology provides a wealth of research and information about birds throughout the world. Consider using their bird ID app, Merlin, for your next birding adventure.
- Illinois Native Plant Society runs events to promote the appreciation, conservation, and study of native flora and natural communities.
- Justin Robinson (@countrygentlemancooks) is a botanist. His informative Instagram posts focus on the impact of colonization and systemic racism in botany.
Conservation and STEM
- Outdoor Afro is a nationwide network that inspires Black leadership in nature.
- Corina Newsome is a zookeeper and biologist. Visit her website for reflections on both her work and diversification of birding, biology, and STEM.
- For Black STEM unity across multiple disciplines, including a specific birding thread, follow @blackafinstem on Instagram.
Check out these tips from our staff photographer on how to improve your images when taking photos or using nature identification apps like Seek and iNaturalist. Click the image below to view more details.
Tip 1: Make sure your subject is in focus
Tip 2: Make your background simple
Tip 3: Get at your subject’s eye level
Tip 4: Zoom with your feet, not your fingers!