During a summer break from studying at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Remic Ensweiler took a class at College of DuPage and marveled at the campus’s natural areas while walking to class.
After graduating from UIUC with a Bachelor of Science in Natural Resources and Environmental Science in 2014, Ensweiler worked as a contractor at an ecological restoration company in Chicago, but when a position became available at COD, he jumped at the opportunity.
“As I got further into researching COD, I learned how precious the campus's natural resources were,” he said. “This realization motivated me to develop a land management plan to transform the natural areas needed for sustainability based on previous study and work experience.”
Working as COD’s Outdoor Lab/Prairie Manager for the past four and a half years, Ensweiler has been pivotal in student success. Drawing from his vast experience with plant restoration and conservation, he spends his days mentoring student volunteers and workers. Together, they work on ecological restoration activities, including weed removal, planting, seeding, tree cutting, controlled burns, wildlife management, beekeeping and managing the community garden.
“It’s an honor to work with students who are interested in pursuing a career in environmental science or ecological restoration,” he said. “I bestow my knowledge upon these motivated students and oversee them as they gather essential and necessary work experience, knowledge, certifications and references that will help them in their future studies and work experiences. That kind of personal mentorship is invaluable for someone who wants to go into this field.”
Before COD, Ensweiler worked at Capitol Reef National Park, the American Conservation Experience, the Wheaton Park District and the Illinois Natural History Survey for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. He is certified as an International Society of Arboriculture Arborist, an Illinois Prescribed Burn Manager and an Ecological Restoration Practitioner.
In his role at COD, he has been instrumental in forging community partnerships to help protect natural areas at COD and in surrounding DuPage County.
“Because COD is so entrenched in the community, one my favorite parts of my job is building valuable partnerships with other organizations such as The Morton Arboretum, the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County, Fermilab and SCARCE to further collaborate and assist those that need our help,” he said. “It brings me hope that there is momentum within the college community to protect the environment.”
Working at a community college is a valuable experience because everyone is working together to make the world a better place, Ensweiler said.
“I’m constantly inspired by the COD community,” he said. “The more I can facilitate opportunities to involve other individuals and groups to protect and restore our environment, the better.”