Someone to Know: Leigh Korreck
Nothing gives Willowbrook Wildlife Center naturalist Leigh Korreck more joy than connecting people to wildlife. She is always looking for the unexpected when exploring a preserve, whether it be spotting an animal she has never seen before or watching the release of a bird that’s been nursed back to health. Korreck introduces visitors to native wildlife and teaches them how to live in harmony with them.
What do you do at the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County? How do you see that role support the District?
As a naturalist at Willowbrook Wildlife Center in Glen Ellyn, I help educate DuPage County residents and others about the animals that share living space with us right here in northern Illinois. In doing so I hope to help people live harmoniously with native wildlife and also create future conservationists.
What has been the best (or most interesting) part of your job at the Forest Preserve District?
One of my best experiences so far is being part of our on-site bird releases. For various reasons, animal releases are usually done at other preserves without much public attention, but migratory bird releases during peak migration times are often done right at Willowbrook. It is wonderful seeing an animal get a second chance at life, but what makes this even better is that during the release I get to explain to visitors the animal's natural history, the medical treatment it received at Willowbrook and where it might go after it is released. This makes for a much more memorable experience for visitors.
What is your favorite preserve?
I have yet to explore all of the preserves, but at this point I would say either Waterfall Glen or Fullersburg Woods. I grew up enjoying the coastal upland forests of Michigan, and I am still drawn to any preserve with significant woodland.
What is your favorite season in the DuPage Forest Preserves?
Winter! I love the quiet and solitude of a deep snow and to track. Last year, for the first time, I caught up to an animal I was tracking: a coyote. He was trotting along Willowbrook’s nature trail.
What inspires you in nature? Why do you like to share that with others?
The unexpected; natural areas are places of true adventure. Seeing an animal or plant that I have never seen before, or was not expecting to find can be wondrous. No two walks in a preserve will be exactly the same. I hope that by sharing this feeling I can reconnect people with nature.
Willowbrook naturalist Leigh Korreck and Tonka, one of the education raptors.