Welcome to Western Illinois Nature Group and
Blackthorn Hill Nature Preserve and Youth Camp
1590 Angling Road, Hwy 4, Alexis, IL  61412

What is WING?  How is it connected to Blackthorn Hill?

The mission of Western Illinois Nature Group (WING) is to support Blackthorn Hill Nature Preserve and to provide outdoor experiences to the public for education and appreciation of nature.

What is new at Blackthorn Hill?

Thanks to volunteer Ezra Schley, student at Knox College, we have an interactive hiking trail map.  Just click on the QR Code below and enjoy your hike!

Become a member of WING (Western Illinois Nature Group)

As a member of WING, you receive many benefits.

Calling all local Artists Volunteers!

Calling all artists! We are looking for artists to volunteer to paint with acrylics several animal cutouts for a learning project at Blackthorn Hill Nature Preserve. The photo below shows 2 painted by RM Moore who is coordinating the project. The animal silhouettes have been cut out of marine grade plywood and primed on both sides. The artist can choose which side they want to use. Only one side will need painted. Contact Rose at oxbowfarm@yahoo.com to make arrangements to select a cutout. Painted cutouts need to be returned at our WING Annual Meeting on Sunday, March 24 at 1 p.m. located TBD in Galesburg. We will use this meeting to show our appreciation for your efforts and explain how these will be used on the property for the public to learn more about nature. Please share with other artists!

Below is a photo of a fawn cutout and two painted cutouts.

Support WING's Blackthorn Hill through Birdies for Charity and have a chance at some great prizes!

WING's Blackthorn Hill Nature Preserve has Birdies for Charity Pledge cards now. Support us and have a chance to win great prizes including John Deere equipment and a 2 year lease of a new Lexus NX! To pledge online, go to https://www.birdiesforcharity.com/about/pledge-forms/ . Be sure to select Western Illinois Nature Group (WING) as your charity to support. Our number is 751. Thanks in advance!

2018 Bird Project!!  Come and help with this or just enjoy observing it!

We received a grant from Galesburg Community Foundation to purchase bird boxes, predator guards, posts to hold them, to pay bird experts to come teach us more, etc.  Contact Mike at 309-337-8664 to volunteer to help.  Adopt a bird, research where to best place which type of nesting box, check on the box once or twice a week.  Come join the fun!

See a list of birds seen at Blackthorn Hill under "What can you do here?" on the left.

Is planned giving to WING an option for you? 

Check out our Planned Giving Brochure for ways you can help make sure that WING and Blackthorn Hill continue on for future generations.  Send an email to: blackthornhill@gmail.com to be mailed a brochure for more information.

Do you like to shop online? 

Do you shop on Amazon?  Switch to shopping on Amazon Smile and choose Western Illinois Nature Group as your charity of choice so Blackthorn Hill can receive .5% of every Amazon Smile purchase. Go to https://smile.amazon.com/ch/36-4205522

Thanks to every volunteer!  Email blackthornhill@gmail.com if you would like to help. Below is the list of other things still needing done.

1.  Cut down the tree leaning over the trail to the new bridge

2.  Move building materials from the cabin shelter rafters to the maintenance building

3.  Rid the prairie trails of multiflora rose

4.  Clear a spot on a hill for sledding this winter

5.  Work on erosion issues

Blackthorn Hill is a 110 acre Nature Preserve that is open to the public from dawn until dusk.  Please be respectful of nature, of others and of our neighbors.  Please haul out your own trash.  There is no trash pickup at Blackthorn Hill. You can walk your dog on a leash at Blackthorn Hill.  Just please be respectful of others, responsible for your pet and pick up after anything left behind by them.  Thanks!

The main hiking trail is marked from the activity area to and through the old woods and to the cabins.  If you see a post painted yellow, you are moving away from the Activity Area.  If you are seeing green paint, you are heading back.  This trail goes past or around the butterfly garden, the prairie and around the old woods and back.

What's the Best About Blackthorn Hill?

Greetings.  My name is Eric Engstrom.  I am an associate professor in the Department of Biology at Monmouth College.  This semester I am teaching Field Botany (Biology 201) to eleven Monmouth undergraduates.  On September 8, we visited Blackthorn Hill Preserve where we met with Daniel Thompson, who very graciously took time to speak with my students about his prairie restoration efforts, and introduced us (myself very much included) in the uses of Newcomb’s Wildflower Guide.  As the major assignment of the course, my students are tasked with assembling a plant collection consisting of physical specimens and/or photographs.  The diversity of eco-regions at Blackthorn Hill Preserve provides us with an excellent site for both collecting and mastering plant identification, within a very reasonable drive from the college.

    I wish to make the Board aware of my deep appreciation of both the Board’s work to make this valuable resource available to the wider community, and of Mr. Thompson’s generous sharing of his time and knowledge.Every trip to Blackthorn Hill is a different adventure.  The prairie, the woods, the creeks...everything is different each time.

~Eric Engstrom

The wildflowers and grasses are amazing in all seasons.

The birds and butterflies are plentiful.

Don't experience Nature Deficit Disorder.  Come visit Blackthorn Hill today!

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