On October 24, 2011 we had a wonderful field trip with the second & third grade classes of The Children’s School of Berwyn, Illinois. The students had elected to study dunes ecology so we were charged with the responsibility of finding a site and developing a program to meet their desires.

We chose Rainbow Beach, a dunes/prairie natural area on the shore of Lake Michigan about 8 miles south of downtown Chicago. After a community service segment which consisted of picking litter from the beach, the students were free to explore the 4-acre site. They enjoyed fabulous weather along with soaring seagulls & turkey vultures. Along the shore one student found a stick that had obviously been cut and stripped by a beaver! Were there beavers in Lake Michigan?

Luckily, one of the dad/parent-helpers was an ecologist familiar with the area; in fact his company had done the restoration of this prairie some years earlier. Mr. Wachtel informed the class that beavers had migrated into the Jackson Park lagoon, about a mile north and that this stick was most likely a remnant of their busy-work.

After lunch the day ended with the children taking photos for journals that they were creating