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South Side Youth and Families to Connect with Nature and Wildlife at Annual Eden Place Pumpkin Festival on October 17

The leaves are turning, the weather is getting cooler and the pumpkins are ripe for picking, which means the annual Pumpkin Festival at the Eden Place Nature Preserve is just around the corner. Hosted by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Illinois Legislative Black Caucus and Chicago Zoological Society, the fall celebration will kick off at 43rd Place and Shields on October 17 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and will feature activities, food and music for the whole family.

“The arrival of fall marks an opportune time to highlight the vast resources of our state parks, outdoor cultural attractions like Brookfield Zoo, and community efforts such as Eden Place,” says Illinois Department of Natural Resources Director Marc Miller. “We are all well aware that our children can thrive when they get a good foundation in school – and when they can spend time at our parks and nature preserves to see the plants and animals they learn about in class. One of our top priorities is to get more young people involved in outdoor recreation.”

At the festival, guests will get up close and personal with Brookfield Zoo’s red-tailed hawk and great horned owl while learning about these species and their habitats during “keeper chats” led by the zoo’s animal keepers. Children and families will also participate in fun fall festivities including a hay ride, face painting, a jumping jack, pumpkin painting and scarecrow building, and enjoy nature exploration activities such as shoe planting, building leaf necklaces, composting and gardening. The event will also feature food from local farmer market vendors and musical entertainment.

“There is a real need to better connect urban youth with nature and wildlife,” said state Rep. Will Davis, who chairs the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus. “By providing our youth and families with fun, safe and meaningful opportunities to connect with the natural world, we can mobilize an urban corps of conservation leaders and ultimately inspire the next generation of African-American biologists, scientists and conservationists.”

As a leader in wildlife and nature conservation, the Chicago Zoological Society encourages, supports and trains conservation leaders of the future. The Society provides educational opportunities ranging from scientific discovery programs for toddlers and internships for students to professional development for researchers and educators.

“Through our Center for Conservation Leadership, we provide opportunities for people to engage with the outdoors and foster a learning and appreciation for nature and wildlife,” says Jo-Elle Mogerman, Vice President of Planning and Community Affairs at Brookfield Zoo. “It’s imperative that we continue to support and get involved in events like the Eden Place Pumpkin Festival to encourage environmentally-minded individuals and cultivate future leaders in conservation.”

Located in the Fuller Park neighborhood, Eden Place began in 1997 as a neighborhood clean-up project that has developed into an urban oasis for the local community which features a prairie, woodland, wetland and community garden. Today, Eden Place continues to grow with the support and recognition of local leaders and organizations who strive to raise awareness about environmental problems and help Chicago youth develop an appreciation for the natural world.

Admission to the Eden Place Pumpkin Festival is free. For further information about the Eden Place Pumpkin Festival, visit www.CZS.org/EdenPlace or call (708) 688-8000.