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Chicago, IL 60630
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Planet of the Arthropods

With over a million species, the arthropods (animals with jointed legs) constitute the largest and most diverse group of animals on the planet. They can be found on the highest mountains to the deepest oceans; from the driest deserts to the wettest rainforests; they eat our crops, live in our homes and on our bodies: they are everywhere. Through macro photography, we’ll come face to face with spiders, beetles, butterflies and more of these interesting and often maligned creatures and learn about the roll they play in the world’s ecosystems.

Exploring America’s National Parks and Monuments

The United States began the national park idea with the creation of Yellowstone National Park in 1872. Today the park system includes nearly 400 sites including parks, monuments, seashores and lakeshores, preserving remnants of the original ecosystems of the United States. In this program, we’ll visit some of these areas and see some of America’s most beautiful places.

Exploring the World’s National Parks and Monuments

Following America’s lead, most countries have preserved their most beautiful and wildlife-rich areas as national parks and preserves. In this program we’ll visit parks in such diverse places as the Amazon rainforest, East African savannas, Australia, New Zealand, The Galapagos Islands and more.

Exploring the Rainforest  (A Naturalist in the Rainforest)

Found in a band around the world, roughly 10 degrees north and south of the equator, rainforests contain the most diverse plant and animal life of all the world’s ecosystems.
In this program, we’ll meet colorful poison dart frogs and insects that look like leaves; bats that make tents and butterflies that rival the most beautiful flowers with their vivid colors.

Re-enacting 101*

Jim Rowan is one of over 50,000 people in the United States and Canada whose hobby is re-enacting. Re-enactors have a passion for history and for sharing that passion with the public at living history events around North America. In this program, Jim wears an 18th or 19th century uniform (French & Indian War,  Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Civil War, Civilian…you decide), discusses the clothing, accoutrements and weapons of the time, and presents a slide program illustrating Living History events from Romans to World War II.

*This can be specialized to emphasize a single era:

The Life of the Civil War Soldier
The Life of the Revolutionary War Soldier
The French and Indian War

Who’s Who at the Zoo

With 17 years as an animal keeper and a lifetime of visiting and photographing the world’s zoos, Jim introduces us to many of the familiar and not-so-familiar  creatures
he’s encountered. Know what a tamandua is? A pademelon?  A vicuna? A Binterong?

Remnants of the Illinois Wilderness

What was Illinois like 300 years ago when it was home to Native Americans and early European settlers and explorers? It was a wilderness of prairies, forests and wetlands, untouched since the retreat of the last ice sheet thousands of years earlier. Today, that  wilderness is gone. But remnants survive, preserved today as state parks, nature preserves and wildlife refuges. In this program, we’ll explore some of these natural areas and discover some of the plants and animals still to be found there.

Midwest Wanderings

In this program, we explore the highways and byways of the Midwest. Often overlooked as a travel destination, the Midwestern states contain a multitude of parks and historic sites. Some of the places we’ll visit include Parke County, Indiana (home to over 30 covered bridges), The Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and Door County, Wisconsin.

Exploring Benelux (the Low Countries)

Belgium, The Netherlands and Luxembourg are three small countries, packed with beauty and history. Among the many places we’ll visit are Amsterdam, with its beautiful canals and architecture, the medieval town of Brugge and fortified  Luxembourg City…
all World Heritage Sites.

South American Adventure: Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru

From the rugged Andes Mountains to the wildlife-rich Galapagos Islands, South America has something for everyone. We’ll also visit highland markets, meeting Qechua and Aymara Indians in colorful, traditional dress, the ancient Inca city of Machu Picchu and some of the plants and animals of the Amazon Rainforest.

Natural Communities of Planet Earth

Our planet is inhabited by millions of species of animals and plants. Each has evolved to exist in a community of other organisms, interacting with one another and all adapted to certain physical conditions. These communities, or biomes, are explored in this program. Here, we’ll meet animals and plants of the worlds forests, grasslands, deserts, mountains, freshwater and oceans; and we’ll discover the role each plays in its environment.

North Americas Historic Past.

The history on North American can be relived by visiting the many historical sites in the United State, Canada and Mexico. From Pre-Columbian sites in Mexico to the Colonial Era and the Space Age in North America, a wealth of history awaits the visitor. In this program we’ll visit many areas of historical interest including Mayan Pyramids in Mexicos Yucatan, Colonial Williamsburg, Civil War sites and more.

Exploring Military America

From coast to coast and everywhere in between, forts, battlefields and museums
tell the story of Americas military past. Many national and state parks as well as active military posts preserve and interpret this history. This program visits many of these sites
from our 18th, 19th and 20th century past.

The French and Indian War (America’s Other Forgotten War) *

Why was this, the fourth war fought between colonial powers in North America, the most important in World History? For one, it led directly to the American Revolution and all history that followed. This little known war is discussed from its beginnings in the wilderness of Pennsylvania to its end on the Plains of Abraham in Quebec. Jim wears and describes a uniform and the weapons of a British grenadier of the First Regiment of Foot and concludes with a slide presentation of French and Indian War sites that can still be visited today.

*This lecture can be presented as the first of a two, three or four part series on wars fought on American soil. The series would include, in chronological order, the American Revolution, War of 1812 and the American Civil War.  In each, we will discuss appropriate uniforms and weapons, review historical highlights and see, via slide presentations, important sites that can be visited today. The titles are:

Revolution: The War for Independence

Why independence after nearly 300 years as British colonies? Why did the French and Indian War lead directly to the Revolution? How did this war lead to the French Revolution and Napoleon? We’ll learn the answers to these and more questions. In this presentation, Jim wears a uniform of the Illinois regiment and discusses the Revolutionary War including Illinois’s part in this conflict.

1812, American’s Second War of Independence

Another “Forgotten War,” the War of 1812 strengthened America as a sovereign nation that could hold its own against a World power. As we approach the bicentennial of this conflict, we learn its causes, see uniforms and weapons and visit existing sites via slides
of this largely unknown conflict. Why do we no longer “Remember the River Raisin!”?

Civil War: The United States IS!

It has been said that, before the Civil War, we said “The United States are”; after the Civil War we said “The United States IS.” Find out what this means as we discuss the greatest conflict ever fought on American soil. Why was this the last chivalric war and the first modern war? Jim, a member of the Illinois 64th Volunteer Infantry Regiment, wears and discusses the uniform and weapons of a Union soldier and highlights several major battlefield sites via slides.


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