Melissa here, aka mud monster!
Until recently, I’ve been involved in habitat restoration and butterfly monitoring in northeastern Illinois. This experience has taught me the subtle beauty to be found here. I feel so fortunate to have been able to get way out in the field, far beyond trails, to see the rarest of the rare holding out against a changing world. I’ve seen ecosystems respond to the care humans give them, rebounding back to abundant health after decades of neglect and abuse. And I’ve seen people heal from heartbreak and stress when they get out under the trees, or out where the prairie horizon stretches far away and their hearts can expand. This rich experience gave me my artistic voice and mission: to draw people out to whatever natural areas they can find close to home, and to spend time there. People will save what they love, and if they fall in love with nature they will find that nature will love them right back.