Plants of Concern: A Rare Plant Monitoring Program
Mennonite Church of Normal, 805 S Cottage Ave, Normal, IL, 61761 Map
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The unglaciated terrain of extreme southern Illinois is home to a variety of plant species not found in the rest of the state, making many of them rare in Illinois. Yet the resources available to monitor and protect them are more limited. To alleviate this, the Plants of Concern (POC) program based out of the Chicago Botanic Garden seeks volunteers to help monitor rare plants. Housed in the Gibson lab at Southern Illinois University, coordinator Chris Benda organizes volunteer community scientists to monitor rare plants and report population data to POC, and ultimately, the natural heritage division at the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. Join us as Chris explains the goals of the program and hopes for the future of the effort.
Chris Benda is a botanist and past president of the Illinois Native Plant Society (2015-2016). Currently, he works as a Researcher at Southern Illinois University, where he coordinates the Plants of Concern Southern Illinois Program and teaches The Flora of Southern Illinois. Besides working at SIU, he conducts botanical fieldwork around the world, teaches a variety of classes at The Morton Arboretum and leads nature tours for Camp Ondessonk. He has research appointments with the University of Illinois and Argonne National Laboratory, and is an accomplished photographer and author of several publications about natural areas in Illinois. He is also known as Illinois Botanizer and can be reached by email at [email protected].
Chris plans on having some of his native plant-related merchandise for sale after this program.