Someone to Know: Kim Riehm
The Visitor Service’s team is the front line of customer care and service at the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County. The four-person crew interacts with visitors on a daily basis answering questions, handling requests for service, issuing permits and making reservations for programs and facilities. Team member Kim Riehm beams with enthusiasm as she talks about working in Visitor Services, where she spreads awareness about each preserve’s uniqueness and diversity and the magic that nature holds.
What are some of your responsibilities working in Forest Preserve District Visitor Services?
My role is to ensure our forest preserve visitors have positive experiences. We manage and field more than 21,000 phone calls and 3,000 walk-ins annually, helping patrons make reservations for the District’s six youth group camping locations and Blackwell Family Campground as well as 25-plus picnic and shelter areas. Some of our most popular areas include our six off-leash dog areas, five model aircraft fields and model and private boating locations, for which I issue annual permits. Providing specialty services such as daily photography permits for a bride’s upcoming wedding photo shoot can be such a rewarding experience. Our forest preserves truly do make the most picturesque photo ops for such special occasions.
Visitor Services is like the heart of the agency. Through phone calls, internet queries and walk-ins, we provide customers with information, answer their questions and make reservations for them. We provide excellent customer service and listen to our patron’s feedback to better serve DuPage County residents and those who value our forest preserves and our agency’s mission. No two days are the same in my position and after more than six years with the District, I’m still learning new things.
What is your favorite activity to do within the preserves?
I love fitness and stay active by hitting our trails in my spare time. In the evenings and weekends, I like to bike or run on the trails of Timber Ridge Forest Preserve and the interconnecting Great Western and Prairie Path trails. The approximate 1.5-mile loop offers a great workout and scenic views of the West Branch DuPage River and the historic Kline Creek Farm.
Why do you enjoy working for the Forest Preserve District?
I truly love this agency and what we stand for. Every morning on my way to work as I drive through Danada Forest Preserve, I am filled with pride knowing I work for the organization that maintains such gems throughout our county. Each of our 60 DuPage preserves is uniquely special.
Equally rewarding is the phenomenal four-person team I work with every day and who have become close friends. I also love working with all the District employees, who are the backbone of our agency.
What do you like to do for fun in your time away from work?
I like to spend time with my friends and family. I also enjoy walking my dogs and spending time with my talking scarlet macaw, Tony.
What inspires you in nature? Why do you like to share that with others?
The mystery and magic of nature really inspire me. Spending even a short amount of time outdoors offers a therapeutic experience. From the serenity to the spectacular views of seasonal changes, our preserves offer a charm that undoubtedly awes.
Educating others and sharing these experiences with those around me has become a daily goal of my work. A simple visit to one of our preserves can relieve stress and offer a new perspective. Danada, Mallard Lake, and St. James Farm are some of my favorite forest preserves to spend time in. I encourage everyone to discover some favorites as well!