Someone to Know: Fullersburg Woods Volunteer Joan Schultheis

By Debbie Brooks, Volunteer Services

Volunteer Joan Schultheis welcomes visitors with a cheery “hello” and warm smile each Thursday at Fullersburg Woods Nature Education Center in Oak Brook. Her friendly personality is just right for prepping guests for their Fullersburg Woods’ experience, whether they’re explore the exhibits or the forest preserve’s trails.

“I just love Fullersburg and look forward to coming in every week. I enjoy meeting new and interesting people as well as learning something new about nature from the friendly and knowledgeable staff,” she explains.

When Joan retired after 32 years in elementary and college education, she wanted to continue to feed her passion for teaching and love of botany and found that Fullersburg Woods was a perfect fit. She started assisting with school tours in 2012 and currently help outs in the nature center. She particularly enjoys introducing children to nature through fun, educational activities, believing that exposure at an early age is vital to building a strong appreciation for the Earth. She not only enjoys spending time with the children but also likes talking about nature with all of the center’s visitors.

“I may not know the answer to all of their questions, but I sure know how to find them,” she quips.

Joan has met many nice people and has made friendships with regular walkers and runners who stop in to say hello every week.

“When she’s not here, they’re looking for her,” says Elissa Fink, the center’s staff assistant. “Joan is a pleasure to have here at Fullersburg Woods.”

In her spare time, Joan takes art lessons, using nature as her subject matter. In winter she’s a snowbird in Naples, Florida, where she explores the area’s nature preserves as she learns about native flora and fauna.

Interested in joining Joan at Fullersburg Woods? The center has several seasonal and year-round volunteer opportunities. Visit its volunteer page to learn more, or stop by the District’s “’Pitch In & Volunteer’ Open House” Jan. 21 from 9 a.m. to noon at District headquarters in Wheaton.

Volunteer Joan Schultheis points out some of the more interesting things to see along the Fullersburg Woods trail.

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