Schulenberg Prairie 60th Anniversary Project

2022 marks the 60th anniversary of the Schulenberg Prairie! To help celebrate this occasion, a request to monitor the prairie in photographs was accepted by MAPS. MAPS members will be able to capture images for an entire year and post them on the MAPS website.

Excerpt from the history of the Schulenberg Prairie:

  • When Joy Morton decided to build his home on the land that would become The Morton Arboretum, the area was mostly farmland. However, prior to European settlement, eastern tallgrass prairie covered 66% of the Chicago region’s landscape. In 1962 Arboretum director, Clarence Godshalk, had a vision to create a “native planting” on farmland that had been acquired in the late 1950s on the Arboretum’s western edge. He put assistant propagator, Ray Schulenberg, in charge of this task and gave him the title, Curator of Native Plants. He began to collect seeds in the fall of 1962, most of which came from within 50 miles of the Arboretum.
  • In the spring of 1963 Schulenberg began to plant local species in a small area north of Willoway Brook, called “the Acre,” making the reconstructed prairie the fourth oldest of its kind in the Midwest. The prairie, which now spans about 100 acres, contains several reconstructed habitats including savannas, tallgrass prairie, and a wet prairie along Willoway Brook. Upon Schulenberg’s retirement in 1987, the prairie was named in his honor, and in 2002 the Arboretum’s Prairie Visitor Station opened as a gateway to the prairie.

This is a one year project with the intent to capture images of the Schulenberg Prairie during all four seasons.

  • Start: September 2021
  • End: October 2022

Where is the Schulenberg Prairie?

  • The Schulenberg Prairie is on the west side of The Morton Arboretum.
  • Start your visit at the Prairie Visitor Station, parking lot 25, which offers shade, enlightening exhibits, and portable restrooms.
  • West side main trail loops 3 and 4 also connect with the prairie trail loop. A short section of trail to an overlook is paved and accessible, but most trails are unpaved.

What should I photograph in the prairie?

  • The project is looking for a variety of images taken in all four seasons and can include plants, animals, birds, insects and landscapes taken early or late in the day, cloudy days, stormy days, rain, or snow. If you have older images in your files that you would like to upload, you can do that as well.

This project will culminate in October 2022. At that time, assuming COVID-19 precautions permit in-person exhibits, you will be given the opportunity to submit images for an exhibit to be held in the Sterling Morton Library.

After processing and saving your images as indicated at the top of this page, you can upload them in the relevant folders. You are also welcome to browse the images uploaded by fellow members.

Don’t forget, once you’ve uploaded your images to the MAPS website, everyone will be able to view them. It’s also possible that we might want to use some of them for promotional purposes.

More information on the Schulenberg Prairie can be found on the Arboretum’s website.