Someone to Know: Dan Hebreard
Longtime senior ranger Dan Hebreard loves sharing his passion for nature and the preserves with the people he encounters on the job. He enjoys interacting with preserve visitors and helping them connect to nature.
Tell me about your responsibilities as a ranger for the Forest Preserve District's East Division.
As a Senior Ranger I help support the District’s mission and vision by bringing it directly to the public. My main functions are customer/preserve safety, recreation program offerings, preserve maintenance and public contacts. Rangers open preserves daily, visit each dog park, check in all permit groups and do work supporting all facets of the forest preserve team.
To date, what has been the best (or most interesting) part of your job at the Forest Preserve District?
Interacting with all of our preserve users and most employees through our diverse job responsibilities is the best part of my job. So many unique people love nature in their own way.
What did you study in college? How do you use that knowledge in your career?
I have a parks and recreation degree from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. This has helped give me a foundation in conservation and knowledge of what the public is seeking in open spaces. I also have a Masters in Business Administration from Benedictine University, which has given me a better understanding of all of the departments at the Forest Preserve District. In addition, the ethics and leadership skills I learned are utilized every day.
What experience do you bring to your position with the District?
I have a background in programming: running camps, athletic leagues, classes and special events at the cities of Palos Heights and Yorkville in their Recreation Departments. I also have some administrative experience from managing the Egg Harbor Café.
What would you like DuPage County residents and forest preserve visitors to know about our natural areas and resources?
They are unexpectedly beautiful and extremely diverse high-quality spaces that are nestled among the suburban sprawl. In DuPage County we have access to so many wonderful areas and hundreds of miles of trails connecting them.
How do you see your department working with others in the District?
As rangers we are lucky to work with almost every department. In doing programming, encroachment checks, intergovernmental agreements, special event preparation, preserve maintenance, and committee work, rangers end up interacting with most District positions.
How do you use DuPage forest preserves?
My wife and kids enjoy visiting the education centers and going to the special events with me. We also go on hikes at Greene Valley Forest Preserve in Naperville.
What is your favorite preserve?
I really enjoy the intimacy of Oldfield Oaks Forest Preserve in Darien. I enjoy walking along the trail and admiring the preserve’s diverse habitats. One of my favorite spots is the bridge overlooking the preserve’s marsh.
Why do you enjoy working for the Forest Preserve District?
I love the variety of work, the passion of my coworkers and a mission I wholeheartedly believe in fulfilling.
What are your personal interests? Do you have any nature-related hobbies?
I enjoy reading, watching movies and hiking. We have also visited several national parks.
What do you like to do in your time away from work?
I like to spend time with family and friends. I also enjoy the great outdoors spring through fall.
How do you make a difference in DuPage County?
I really believe my role is to be a community servant as a ranger. By doing my job every day, I help make the preserves safe, clean and a great escape for people.
What’s your favorite forest preserve animal? Why?
The hawk is a great animal to watch, perched up high, swooping in for the kill or just gliding through the air.
What question do patrons ask you most? What is your answer?
How do you get to be a ranger? I explain the education requirements, extoll the virtues of being a ranger and inform them that we also get to clean the latrines.
What question hasn’t been asked of you, and why is that important?
Why do we have preserves? People in Chicagoland crave and need the open, natural outdoor spaces to get away from the urban sprawl.
What’s your favorite season in DuPage forest preserves?
I love spring because there’s beautiful weather, sunshine, longer days, sprouting foliage, wildflowers and no bugs yet!
What do you want others to know about you?
I am very proud to work here because of my fantastic coworkers throughout the District, the passion of our visitors and all that we accomplish.
What three words best describe you?
Passionate, determined, loyal.
What inspires you in nature? Why do you like to share that with others?
A beautiful image can be awe-inspiring. I have many mental images from all my time in nature and I try to share some pictures to help lure people into having their own adventure.