Connecting with nature is important at any age! Heller Nature Center’s programs are designed to inspire a lifelong appreciation for nature, foster environmental stewardship, and promote a healthier, more connected community. Whether you are an avid nature enthusiast or simply looking to explore new outdoor activities, Heller Nature Center offers something for everyone.

Check out our upcoming Adult/Adult-Friendly Programs:

Friday, July 13 • 10am-noon

Summer Wild Edibles Walk

Eat the forest! Join The Wild Dryad on a foraging tour of Heller’s woods; learn how to spot wild edibles and how best to cook them. Sample some of the plants we find on our hike.

Friday, July 19 • 7-8:30pm

Nature Trivia

Join us for an evening of nature-themed trivia. Enter in teams of up to 6, or join a team of new friends on arrival. Then, compete with fellow residents to see who knows more about the ecology in our local area and beyond.

This is a BYOB event. Light snacks will be provided.

Ages 21+

Sunday, August 8 • 9:30-11:30am

Honey Harvest Demo

Our honey bees have been working all summer making our famous Heller Honey. Come and experience how to harvest our honey with one of our naturalists and take home a small jar you harvested from the hives.

Nature Nurturers Needed!

From natural areas restoration to beekeeping, outdoor volunteer opportunities are aplenty!

The periodic cicadas have arrived! On this episode of Wild Insights, Mark describes the difference between periodic and annual cicadas, their molting process, and where you can see them in Highland Park!

In our third and final installment of Parks in Mind, a video series in collaboration with Endeavor Health that explores mental health and recreation, Dr. Fazio and Kyle answer the following questions:

Meet Our Mental Health Professionals

Lindsay T. Fazio, PhD is the System Director of Wellbeing & Vitality for Endeavor Health. Her role is to develop and drive the strategic plan to bring wellbeing to each and every team member no matter their role or responsibility within the organization.

She received her B.S. in Psychology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and her Ph.D. in counseling psychology from Indiana State University. She completed her residency in medical psychology at St. James Hospital and Health Centers. Dr. Fazio’s passion is promoting wellness began 20 years ago teaching physicians and physicians-in-training. She works with departments and health systems nationally to monitor burnout provide a programatic series of strengths-based interventions to promote resiliency and engagement across all members of the healthcare team.

Kyle Kovski, LCSW is dedicated to supporting the emotional wellbeing of individuals within Endeavor Health. His dual role as the Wellbeing Support Advisor and System R.I.S.E. Clinical Coordinator showcases his commitment to fostering resilience and creating a supportive culture within the organization.

With his educational background in Social Work, Kyle brings a comprehensive understanding of human behavior and mental health to his role. His clinical experience across different age groups and symptomatology provides him with a nuanced perspective on addressing the diverse needs of individuals. Kyle’s focus on supporting medical professionals is especially impactful, given his firsthand experience in Family Medicine Residency programs support Behavioral Health Education. He recognizes the unique challenges individuals are faced with daily and advocates for the importance of stress management and resilience techniques in mitigating the impact of trauma.

By drawing from his expertise in trauma and emphasizing the importance of holistic wellbeing, Kyle empowers individuals to navigate challenges effectively. His efforts not only benefit the individuals he directly supports but also contribute to creating a culture of support and resilience within Endeavor Health.

Additional Resources

Special Thank You

Before heading out to your favorite Park District of Highland Park facility on Memorial Day weekend, check out our hours!

FacilitySaturday, May 25Sunday, May 26Monday, May 27
Centennial Ice ArenaClosedClosedClosed
Deer Creek Racquet ClubClosed, No ClassesClosed, No ClassesClosed, No Classes
Heller Nature CenterBuilding Open 9am-3pm; Trails Open Dawn to DuskBuilding Closed; Trails Open Dawn to DuskBuilding Closed; Trails Open Dawn to Dusk
Hidden Creek AquaParkLap Swim - 5:30-10am; Open Swim - 10am-7pmLap Swim - 5:30-10am; Open Swim - 10am-7pmLap Swim - 5:30-10am; Open Swim - 10am-5pm
Highland Park Golf Learning Center8am-7pm8am-7pm8am-7pm
Recreation Center of Highland ParkFitness Floor - 7am-6pm; Indoor Pool - 7am-5:30pmFitness Floor - 7am-6pm; Indoor Pool - 7am-5:30pmFitness Floor - 7am-noon; Indoor Pool - 7-11:30am
River's Edge Mini Golf8am-7pm8am-7pm8am-7pm
Rosewood Beach10am-6pm10am-6pm10am-6pm
Sunset Valley Golf Club5am-8pm (weather permitting)5am-8pm (weather permitting)5am-8pm (weather permitting)
West Ridge Center8:30am-4pm8:30am-4pmClosed
HCAP

Hidden Creek AquaPark

Saturday, May 25 – Opening Day!

No matter what your age, you will have fun at Hidden Creek AquaPark speeding down the water slides, free-falling from the drop slide, climbing through the water playground, swimming in the zero-depth entry, six-lane lap pool, or just relaxing on the deck. If you don’t feel like swimming, stretch out on the lounge chairs on the large deck and lawn areas to catch some rays or cool yourself under the shaded areas.

Rosewood Beach

Saturday, May 25 – Opening Day!

Rosewood is an award-winning national beach that features a nature cove for ecological and nature programs, a guarded swimming beach, and a recreation beach.

Rosewood Beach Swimming Season Passes and Lakefront Parking Decals are required for each individual to access the swimming and recreation beach coves during the swimming season.

Miniature Golf

River’s Edge Mini Golf

Enjoy our challenging 18-hole mini golf course. Fun for the whole family. First nine holes are ADA accessible.

Sunset Valley Golf Club

Everyone is talking about this golf course. Renovated in 2018, the multi-award-winning Sunset Valley attracts golfers from all over the Metro-Chicago area. The course’s breathtaking British heathland design and the relaxed vibe of the remodeled clubhouse make the club a unique destination for golfers and dining guests just wanting to take in the view.

In our second installment of Parks in Mind, a video series in collaboration with Endeavor Health that explores mental health and recreation, Dr. Fazio and Kyle answer the following questions:

Meet Our Mental Health Professionals

Lindsay T. Fazio, PhD is the System Director of Wellbeing & Vitality for Endeavor Health. Her role is to develop and drive the strategic plan to bring wellbeing to each and every team member no matter their role or responsibility within the organization.

She received her B.S. in Psychology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and her Ph.D. in counseling psychology from Indiana State University. She completed her residency in medical psychology at St. James Hospital and Health Centers. Dr. Fazio’s passion is promoting wellness began 20 years ago teaching physicians and physicians-in-training. She works with departments and health systems nationally to monitor burnout provide a programatic series of strengths-based interventions to promote resiliency and engagement across all members of the healthcare team.

Kyle Kovski, LCSW is dedicated to supporting the emotional wellbeing of individuals within Endeavor Health. His dual role as the Wellbeing Support Advisor and System R.I.S.E. Clinical Coordinator showcases his commitment to fostering resilience and creating a supportive culture within the organization.

With his educational background in Social Work, Kyle brings a comprehensive understanding of human behavior and mental health to his role. His clinical experience across different age groups and symptomatology provides him with a nuanced perspective on addressing the diverse needs of individuals. Kyle’s focus on supporting medical professionals is especially impactful, given his firsthand experience in Family Medicine Residency programs support Behavioral Health Education. He recognizes the unique challenges individuals are faced with daily and advocates for the importance of stress management and resilience techniques in mitigating the impact of trauma.

By drawing from his expertise in trauma and emphasizing the importance of holistic wellbeing, Kyle empowers individuals to navigate challenges effectively. His efforts not only benefit the individuals he directly supports but also contribute to creating a culture of support and resilience within Endeavor Health.

Additional Resources

Special Thank You

Walter the Raccoon seems to have left behind some items in our parks, can you help find them?

Each day this week, Walter will leave a clue here (and on our Facebook) about which park he’s visited. When you find Walter with the item left behind at one of our parks, scan the QR code to see what fun activity you can do and enter our drawing to win prizes and a gift card!

Friday, May 24

Walter has almost all of his items back! He’s still missing his hiking boots, though. Can you help him find them in one of our parks? Here’s your clue:

“Our Prairie is abuzz with bees,

You can also walk among the trees,

In the winter you can bring skis,

Finding my home base should be a breeze!”

Thursday, May 23

Where have Walter’s binoculars gone? Can you help him find them in one of our parks? Here’s your clue:

“The ocean is far away from here,

But there is still a beach that we hold dear.

It’s the only beach where you can swim,

But wait till it’s warmer before diving in!”

Wednesday, May 22

Walter can’t find his hiking stick! Can you help him find it in one of our parks? Here’s your clue:

“I thought I’d grab my fishing pole,

And head on past the Pickle Ball or Tennis Courts.

There’s a great little fishing hole,

Where you can see animals of all sorts!

If you see ice you’ve gone too far.”

Tuesday, May 21

Walter’s backpack has gone missing! Can you help him find it in one of our parks? Here’s your clue:

“I’ve been spending all my time today,

On space ship slides and the swing set.

I’ll end my day in the perfect way,

By watching a lovely ____________.”

Monday, May 20

Walter misplaced his map! Can you help him find it in one of our parks? Here’s your clue:

“Not far from where I play Mini-golf,

I went looking for birds I could observe.

But now my Map has wandered off,

So I’m looking for it at the ___________.”

Spring is here, and all around us, animals are waking up and getting ready for an exciting summer. Our bees are gathering pollen from the earliest flowers, Illinois is set to see two periodic broods of cicadas, and frogs and toads can be heard calling all around. Among this waking wildlife is a little arachnid that concerns us each year: the tick. Unfortunately, there will be more ticks this year. The surprising answer as to why actually has to do with acorns. The past two years have been good for acorns, which is good for mice, which is good for ticks. This year, however, we are seeing fewer acorns, which means less mice. With a tick population lagging slightly behind this trend, this year we have lots of ticks with less mice to feed on.

In Illinois, there are typically two common tick types: the deer tick, which carry Lyme disease, and the wood tick. Deer ticks are small and hard to spot, so look out for rashes or bullseye shaped spots on your body. Wood ticks are larger, and while they may not carry Lyme, they are known to carry other germs that may be harmful to humans. 

There is a third tick to look out for this year. The Longhorned Asian Tick has been discovered in Illinois (the 20th state they have been found in so far) and is considered invasive in the US. Currently, it is expected that the tick carries some germs that are dangerous to humans, but we do not know if they can transmit them yet. They are known to be dangerous to livestock and some pets. If you come in contact with a tick, immediately remove it—if you can, try to trap it (a piece of tape works) and keep it. Doctors can sometimes test a tick that bit you to see if there is cause for concern.

The Illinois Department of Health has posted some excellent guidelines for preventing tick bites:

Don’t Let a Tick Make You Sick

Downloadable Flyers

Introducing Parks in Mind, a conversation exploring mental health and recreation in collaboration with Endeavor Health. In this video series, two mental health professionals come together for an informed discussion on mental health and emotional wellbeing, Parks and Recreation’s important role in mental health, coping with challenges and stress, the benefits of social connection, and more.

In this video, Dr. Fazio and Kyle answer the following questions:

Meet Our Mental Health Professionals

Lindsay T. Fazio, PhD is the System Director of Wellbeing & Vitality for Endeavor Health. Her role is to develop and drive the strategic plan to bring wellbeing to each and every team member no matter their role or responsibility within the organization.

She received her B.S. in Psychology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and her Ph.D. in counseling psychology from Indiana State University. She completed her residency in medical psychology at St. James Hospital and Health Centers. Dr. Fazio’s passion is promoting wellness began 20 years ago teaching physicians and physicians-in-training. She works with departments and health systems nationally to monitor burnout provide a programatic series of strengths-based interventions to promote resiliency and engagement across all members of the healthcare team.

Kyle Kovski, LCSW is dedicated to supporting the emotional wellbeing of individuals within Endeavor Health. His dual role as the Wellbeing Support Advisor and System R.I.S.E. Clinical Coordinator showcases his commitment to fostering resilience and creating a supportive culture within the organization.

With his educational background in Social Work, Kyle brings a comprehensive understanding of human behavior and mental health to his role. His clinical experience across different age groups and symptomatology provides him with a nuanced perspective on addressing the diverse needs of individuals. Kyle’s focus on supporting medical professionals is especially impactful, given his firsthand experience in Family Medicine Residency programs support Behavioral Health Education. He recognizes the unique challenges individuals are faced with daily and advocates for the importance of stress management and resilience techniques in mitigating the impact of trauma.

By drawing from his expertise in trauma and emphasizing the importance of holistic wellbeing, Kyle empowers individuals to navigate challenges effectively. His efforts not only benefit the individuals he directly supports but also contribute to creating a culture of support and resilience within Endeavor Health.

Additional Resources

Special Thank You

The Park District of Highland Park is thrilled to announce plans for a new indoor sports facility dedicated exclusively to pickleball and padel on Skokie Valley Road.

The existing site for the new facility is a collaboration between the Park District of Highland Park and City of Highland Park, in which the city owns the land, and the Park District manages all operations at the site through a 99-year Lease Agreement.    An existing air supported dome owned by a third-party (Grantee) is permitted to rent space for indoor recreation uses such as soccer, lacrosse, and other similar sports consistent with the terms of a Concession and Site Agreement.  With anticipation of the Agreement expiring in April 2024, the Park District released a request for proposals for a new long-term agreement that would meet the needs of the community.

Although the Park District did not receive a proposal from the current Grantee, a promising proposal submitted by the Saslow Family included a generous donation dedicated for the construction of a new pickleball and padel facility.  In December 2023 the Park Board approved a Donor Agreement with the Saslow Family, which was recently followed with approval to purchase a new air supported dome and begin design for a state-of-the-art facility tailored for these rapidly growing sports. The new facility plan features 10 pickleball courts, 4 padel courts, café, pro shop, and restrooms.

 “As we begin planning for this outstanding indoor facility, I am filled with immense pride and excitement for the future of pickleball and padel in Highland Park,” said Ron Saslow. “This project embodies a commitment to fostering an active and connected community. I can’t wait to see our residents come together, engaging in these dynamic sports throughout the year, regardless of the weather.”

The project is estimated to cost approximately $4.2 million, including the purchase and installation of the dome, along with the construction of the courts and additional amenities. A considerable portion of the funding comes from the Saslow family’s generous donation, with further financial support being sought through the Parks Foundation of Highland Park.

Nick Baird, Director of Recreation at the Park District, highlighted the alignment of this project with broader community objectives. “Converting the old structure into a vibrant, year-round facility aligns with our goals for the site, and expands our recreational offerings in the community,” Baird noted. The Park District is actively working to relocate the few existing sports programs that currently use the old dome.

Brian Romes, Executive Director of the Park District, also commented on the community’s demand for indoor courts. “We consistently hear from our community members about the need for indoor pickleball courts. With this new facility, we’re responding to that demand and enhancing our recreational landscape,” Romes said.

The Park District aims to open the new paddle facility in the winter of 2024-2025, with plans to finalize the purchase of the dome soon and complete installation by the end of 2024. Community members and businesses interested in contributing to the project can find more details and sponsorship opportunities on the Parks Foundation website at pfhpil.org.

Childhood is a time of growth, exploration, and developing various skills. Engaging in physical activities from a young age can profoundly impact a child’s overall well-being. Ice skating and gymnastics offer many physical, mental, and social benefits. Your child can experience the joy and benefits of both activities at the newly renovated Centennial Ice Arena! Our highly qualified staff ensure your kiddos evolve through our progressive programming.  

Centennial Ice Arena can help your young skater or tumbling star build strength and flexibility and nurture a sense of self-discipline and self-confidence.  Here are some of the wonderful benefits of ice skating and gymnastics.

The Benefits of Ice Skating

1. Physical Fitness: Ice skating is an excellent way to get kids moving and stay physically active. It engages multiple muscle groups, especially in the legs and core, improving balance and coordination.

2. Cardiovascular Health: Skating promotes a healthy heart by boosting cardiovascular endurance. The aerobic aspect of ice skating helps improve lung capacity and overall fitness.

3. Balance and Coordination: Ice skating requires children to develop a strong sense of balance and coordination, which can transfer to improved agility in other sports and daily activities.

4. Mental Focus: Skaters must concentrate and focus to glide gracefully on ice. This cultivates mental discipline and sharpens their ability to pay attention to detail.

5. Social Interaction: Ice skating often takes place in group settings, providing kids with an opportunity to make friends, learn teamwork, and enhance their social skills.

6. Confidence Building: As children learn to skate, they build self-confidence, setting and achieving small goals, and overcoming challenges, all of which contribute to a positive self-image.

7. Stress Relief: Like all physical activities, ice skating is an excellent way for children to blow off steam, reduce stress, and relax.

The Benefits of Gymnastics

1. Strength and Flexibility: Gymnastics builds strong muscles and promotes flexibility. Children develop power and endurance through routines and exercises.

2. Body Awareness: Gymnasts learn to understand their bodies better, which can help reduce the risk of injury and improve posture and body mechanics.

3. Discipline and Focus: The structured nature of gymnastics teaches children discipline and focus as they work diligently to master new skills and routines.

4. Balance and Coordination: Similar to ice skating, gymnastics hones balance and coordination, improving a child’s overall athleticism.

5. Goal Setting: Gymnastics is goal oriented. Children set goals for themselves, learning the value of hard work and perseverance.

6. Creativity and Expression: In artistic gymnastics, children can express themselves creatively through their routines, fostering artistic and imaginative abilities.

7. Self-Confidence: As children gain competence and master challenging moves, their self-confidence soars, and they learn to trust in their abilities.

So, what are you waiting for? Develop your young one’s physical fitness, mental acuity, discipline, and social skills. Whether your child is eager to learn a new skill and have fun or progress to be a true competitor, Centennial Ice Arena provides it all.