Someone to Know: Cindy Hedges
Stewardship program coordinator Cindy Hedges delights in providing opportunities for volunteers to work in forest restoration and study the diversity of nature. She empowers residents to volunteer and help take care the county’s natural habitats. If you ask Hedges what her favorite thing is about her job, she’ll tell you “everything.” You can find her hiking, biking or horseback riding throughout the DuPage forest preserves.
What are your responsibilities as the stewardship program coordinator for the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County?
I work with volunteer stewards and staff assisting in the restoration management of the District’s natural areas. I also facilitate several volunteer monitoring programs of plants, animals and invertebrates and manage the Native Plant Nursery at Blackwell Forest Preserve.
What did you study in college? How do you use that knowledge in your career?
I studied biology, ecology, botany, microbiology, wildlife biology and related coursework. I use basic scientific principles, such as life cycles, taxonomy, animal and plant life, and the interrelationships in their natural environments.
What is your favorite DuPage County forest preserve? Why?
Wood Dale Grove is my favorite preserve. This preserve is located in the northeastern section of the county, where urban expansion and development is common and open space is rare. Wood Dale Grove connects to Oak Meadows Golf Course, Salt Creek Park and is near Fischer Woods, which creates a vast open space filled with diverse habitats. I especially like this preserve because it is close to my home and offers a place of refuge for people, plants and wildlife. It also offers a place for families to picnic, visitors to fish, and hikers and bikers to walk or ride on a gravel trail that loops through a beautiful savanna. To me the most important piece is the Wood Dale Grove wild side, which is full of diverse habitats, including a sedge meadow, savanna and mesic woodlands with ephemeral ponds that support rare plants and animals.
What are your personal interests? Do you have any nature-related hobbies?
I like to study nature, grow native plants, travel and help people, as well as volunteer in the community and in my parish. I love doing just about anything outdoors, including hiking, camping, horseback riding, boating and gardening.
How do you make a difference in DuPage County?
By empowering volunteers, matching their passions, talents and energy to the goals and mission of the District, and ensuring their contributions are put to good use. I try to live responsibly by recycling, reducing waste, planting a native landscape at home, and volunteering in the forest preserves, my parish and the Boy Scouts of America.
What three words best describe you?
Diverse, compassionate and open-minded.
What inspires you in nature?
So many things. I love the natural beauty and complexity of living organisms and their unique qualities, and how even the smallest organism can be important, interconnected and fit in a complex world.
What do you like most about your job? What makes it special?
Everything. I like working with living organisms, including people, plants, insects and animals. I like challenges and working out solutions to problems. I like making a difference on landscapes, preserving species and sustaining diverse habitats that support a wide range of species, resulting in healthier systems that benefit every living thing and will hopefully be around for future generations to continue to enjoy.