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College, collaborators to host book discussions, hikes focusing on Midwest nature lover and scientist

by Public Relations and Marketing | Published Aug 23, 2019

Explore nature, build creative writing skills and learn how a Midwestern nature lover broke gender barriers to become a renowned scientist in a series of fall events sponsored by the College of Lake County, in collaboration with local libraries and the Lake County Forest Preserve District.

Book discussions focus on “Lab Girl,” an award-winning autobiography of Hope Jahren, a Minnesota native who overcame gender stereotypes in science to become one of the world’s leading geobiologists. Growing up in Austin, Minn., Jahren was interested in trees, flowers, plants and soil since she was a child. “Lab Girl” tells the story of a young woman who finds friendship in odd places, battles bipolar disorder, perseveres throughPhoto of author Hope Jahren setbacks and becomes a respected scientist and passionate observer of the natural world. Jahren eventually earned a Ph.D. in soil science from the University of California at Berkeley in 1996 and now lives in Oslo, Norway. In 2016, “Lab Girl” was named a New York Times Notable Book and an Amazon Top 20 Best Book.

Photo:  “Lab Girl,” a memoir by Hope Jahren, Ph.D., a world-renowned geobiologist is the focus of book discussions and other activities this fall at the College of Lake County.

Funding for the program comes from a $15,000 Big Read Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. Events include the following:

  • Tuesday Sept. 17:  Walk With Me and We'll Identify a Tree! 10-11:30 a.m., Greenbelt Cultural Center, 1215 Green Bay Rd., North Chicago. Explore woods and discover a variety of clues that help identify trees. Meet on the west side of Green Bay Road at Shelter D parking lot. Dress for the weather. Free; registration for all is required. Audience: Homeschoolers and children ages 5-14 with an adult caregiver.
  • Wednesday, Sept. 18:  Big Read Kickoff, 6 p.m., Room A022, Grayslake Campus. CLC President Dr. Lori Suddick will provide opening remarks, and Dr. Nancy Tuchman, dean of the School of Environmental Sustainability at Loyola University, will deliver the keynote address titled “Women in Science: Building a Hope-Filled Future.” A public reception follows.
  • Thursday, Sept. 19:  Wildflower World Tour, 7-8 p.m., Vernon Area Public Library, 300 Olde Half Day Rd., Lincolnshire. View photography of wildflowers from around the globe with Glenn Adelson, director of environmental studies at Lake Forest College. Learn how the flowers have enticed pollinators, inspired poets and changed the course of history.
  • Monday, Sept. 23: Presentation on the Lake County Forest Preserve District’s native plants and native seed nursery, 7-8 p.m., Antioch Public Library, 757 N. Main St., Antioch.
  • Tuesday, Sept. 24: Walk With Me and We'll Identify a Tree! (see above description), 10-11:30 a.m., Lakewood Forest Preserve, 27277 Forest Preserve Rd., Wauconda. Enter main entrance off Ill. Rt. 176 and follow the signs.
  • Tuesday, Sept. 24: “Lab Girl” Book Discussion, Time TBA, Waukegan Public Library, 128 N County St, Waukegan.
  • Wednesday, Sept. 25: Memoir Writing Workshop, 7-8:30 p.m., CLC’s Lakeshore (Waukegan) Campus, Room TBA. Learn the key elements of writing an effective memoir.
  • Tuesday, Oct.1: Walk With Me and We'll Identify a Tree! (see above description), 1-2:30 p.m., Ft. Sheridan Forest Preserve, 117 Sheridan Rd., Lake Forest.
  • Tuesday, Oct. 1: Memoir Writing Workshop, 6-7:30 p.m., Waukegan Public Library.
  • Wednesday, Oct. 2: It's Good to Be Green: Mental Health and Well-Being, 6 p.m., Room A022, Grayslake Campus. The presentation and discussion will include CLC faculty Martha Lally (psychology), Lisa Aguilar (massage therapy) and Rory Klick (horticulture).
  • Tuesday, Oct. 8:  Walk With Me and We'll Identify a Tree! (see above description), 1-2:30 p.m., Ft. Sheridan Forest Preserve.
  • Monday, Oct. 14: School Day Off /Columbus Day Buckthorn Busters Identification and Removal Program, 10-11:30 a.m., Old School Forest Preserve, 28285 St. Mary's Rd., Mettawa. Learn to identify and remove buckthorn, one of the most invasive plants in the county. Follow signs to the restoration area. No registration required, and adult supervision is required. Gloves and tools provided.
  • Tuesday, Oct. 15:  “Lab Girl” Book Discussion, 10 a.m., Antioch Public Library. This discussion is designed for young adults.
  • Tuesday, Oct. 15: After-School Poetry Workshop for students K-12, 4:30-6 p.m., Waukegan  Public Library.

“We at CLC are excited to work with the Lake County Forest Preserve District and local libraries to promote the hikes, workshops and book discussions to diverse audiences and age groups across Lake County,” said Holly Ledvina, CLC librarian. “This project allows the college to engage with the community in a way that represents many of CLC’s priorities, including sustainability and diversity.”

Michelle Carter, CLC librarian, noted that the Big Read program meshes with the college’s increased efforts to promote careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). “We seek women in the sciences as positive examples for our students,” she said.

CLC is one of 78 communities nationwide participating in the program. For details on national efforts, visit National Endowment for the Arts at

Fall CLC classes began Aug. 19, but many flexible-starting classes are still available. For information about courses and how to apply and enroll, visit

About College of Lake County:

College of Lake County is an innovative community college in Lake County, Ill. that transforms lives with its variety of accessible, quality education options. Offered at three campuses in Grayslake, Vernon Hills and Waukegan or online, College of Lake County provides affordable options in a state-of-the-art setting close to home. A large student network, with small class sizes, provides advantages to our students on a career-related program or a path toward a transfer degree. We’re proud to serve the diverse needs of our community and student body. Connect to your future today at College of Lake County.