Someone to Know: David Sima
West Division Senior Ranger David Sima keeps it interesting for folks who either join his DuPage forest preserve recreational programs or encounter him along our trails. With his vast outdoor experience at the District and general knowledge of natural history, he’s happy to share his nature know-how with anyone he meets in the preserves. Sima shares his expertise about the preserves and their many amenities as part of our "Wild Things" team on WDCB radio.
What do you do at the Forest Preserve District? How do you see that role support the District?
As a senior ranger with the District, my role is wide and varied. It includes opening the preserves, performing basic maintenance and educating the public about archery, kayaking or why we use prescribed burns in DuPage forest preserves. As a member on the front line, I often interact with our forest preserve patrons. That’s why it’s important they walk away from me with a good impression of preserves. If I can create a good memory from their preserve experience that stays with them, then I have done my job!
To date, what has been the best (or most interesting) part of your job at the Forest Preserve District?
The most interesting part of my job would have to be the prescribed burn program. How many people can say that they are getting paid to burn the woods and prairies for an ecological benefit?
How do you use DuPage forest preserves?
The District has so many great trails that on my days off I will use them to either go for a bike ride in the summer or hike year-round. I am currently training for Philmont — a Boy Scout high adventure backpacking trip in New Mexico — which I will be going on in June 2016. In the past few years I used the trails and Mount Hoy to train for trips to summit Mount Washington in New Hampshire and Half Dome in Yosemite.
When I have the chance, I also enjoy taking my kayak down the rivers along the forest preserves. The West Branch of the DuPage River is so amazing now that all of the river restoration is complete.
What is your favorite preserve?
My favorite preserve is Waterfall Glen in Darien. Not only is this preserve so diverse in plants, animals and topography but it’s also where I began my career with the District as a ranger. Fullersburg Woods in Oak Brook is a close second.
Why do you enjoy working for the Forest Preserve District?
I enjoy working for the District, because it gives me the opportunity to be outside. While most people are in an office for 40+ hours a week, I can call the preserves my office. Even though I may spend more hours in the office than I did early in my career, there is still a nice balance to my day. There are also the quick-lived experiences that I enjoy almost every day at work — the beautiful sunrise or sunset, a bald eagle sighting in a preserve, early morning fog over a prairie, hearing a great-horned owl calling at night when I leave work and then again the next morning when I arrive back at work… .
What inspires you in nature? Why do you like to share that with others?
Simple things in nature inspire me: Newly fallen snow, the smell of flowers, patterns in nature. I sometimes feel that humans have lost touch with nature or lack an appreciation for the natural world around us. But if I can show them the little things — those things that inspire me — maybe it will inspire them to want to get out and explore on their own, too.
Ranger David Sima teaches WLS-TV reporter Judy Hsu how to shoot an arrow at the Blackwell archery range.
Ranger Sima leads "Paddling With a Ranger" at Herrick Lake Forest Preserve in Wheaton.