Mahlburg Scholars 2017-2018 Season

Mahlburg Scholars is a lecture series that brings some of the most interesting and brightest scientists to Burpee for a 1 hour lecture.  The lecture series is a long standing tradition of continual learning in the Burpee family.  Come join us, and learn.  Mahlburg Scholars lectures are now free to the public.


This season is dedicated to Rolf Thienemann

Rolf was a long-time Burpee supporter, Board of Trustee member and volunteer.  In honor of his many years of dedication to the museum, each of the lectures will be free to all public in his honor.  Please join Burpee in honoring his commitment, and thanking his family for his dedication to the museum.

Mahlburg 2017-2018 Season Lecture #5


Illinois Native Oak Woodlands

Date: Sunday, March 18

Time: 2:00 PM-  3:00 PM


This talk will look at native oak woodlands, their natural history, and the issues facing them. Michael Woolery will explain historical range & significance of oak woodlands in our area, and present challenges currently facing this habitat type.

Michael Woolery

Bio: Michael Woolery is owner of Greenwood Forestry Consulting.  He has a Bachelor’s degree in Forest Science from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaing, and a Master’s Degree in Natural Resources and Environmental Science, also from UIUC.  He has worked for a private forestry consulting company, a timber export company and currently owns Greenwood Forestry Consulting.  He has, in the past, taught online summer silviculture courses for both graduate and undergraduate students attending the University of Illinois.  He lives in Winnebago with his wife, Jennifer, their three children and one German Shoerthaired Pointer.  


Mahlburg 2017-2018 Season Lecture #4


The Bobcat – The Reclusive Native Cat of Illinois

Date: Sunday, February 18

Time: 2:00 PM-  3:00 PM

Synopsis: The bobcat is the only native cat of Illinois. Bobcats, named for their short, bobbed tail, are about twice the size of a common house cat. They use their keen sight and hearing to hunt rabbits, squirrels, small rodents and some birds. They are mostly nocturnal, reclusive animals that prefer forested or wooded areas. Once hunted almost to extinction in Illinois, bobcats have been making a comeback over the past 40 years.

 In this talk, Jennifer will cover every facet of the elusive cats, including history, biology, predator perception, and management. Information about the ongoing bobcat population study by Dr. Jacques at Western Illinois University  will also be discussed.

Jennifer Kuroda

Bio: Jennifer Kuroda is the founder of the Illinois Bobcat Foundation. She received her B.S. from the University of Rockford and is a life-long resident of Rockford, Illinois. She serves on the Board of the Sinnissppi Audubon Society and has been a nature lover since she was a young girl.

Mahlburg 2017-2018 Season Lecture #3

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A Cleaner Levings Lake:

Putting Nature to Work!

Date: Sunday, January 21

Time: 2:00 PM-  3:00 PM

Levings Lake is a recreation destination for wake borders and fishermen alike. Clear water, free of nuisance algae and sediment, is important to the health and longevity of the lake. As part of Kent Creek, implementing ecological improvements to the lake and the streams that feed it is a multi-year effort. Olson Ecological Solutions and JadEco Natural Resource Consultants have been working with the Rockford Park District to make big ideas happen. With help from the Perks Family Foundation, important and innovative improvements have already been made. Rebecca Olson will talk about the efforts put in place so far and what is yet to come. This talk will be geared toward the general public, for those interested in Levings and the water quality of other streams, ponds, and lakes.


Rebecca Olson, M.S.

Rebecca has focused her career on land and water conservation in Northern Illinois and beyond. She is the owner and president of Olson Ecological Solutions, LLC, a woman-owned consulting company founded in 2006 and partner company of Tallgrass Restoration, LLC. She also represents Floating Island International’s products including BioHaven floating treatment wetlands and assists conservation groups and landowners in purchasing and selling land for preservation with Hoffman Realty, LLC.

Rebecca’s work protects, enhances, and creates natural areas and encourages human interaction with nature in various ways. The projects that she develops and manages provide natural areas in rural and developed settings like river corridors, drainage systems, wetlands, parks, and neighborhoods. These projects ensure many benefits to our communities, including open spaces for people to enjoy, habitat for wildlife, and areas to provide natural water filtration and prevent flooding.
Rebecca volunteers to serve her community as a member of the Board of Directors for the Rockford Park District Foundation and as a member of the Land Advisory Council for the Forest Preserves of Winnebago County and Land Conservation Committee for the Natural Land Institute.
Rebecca attended Denison University for her Bachelor of Arts in biology and minor in chemistry. She then received her Master of Science in wildlife biology from Colorado State University. She moved to Rockford in 2000. She has been married to her husband, Scott, for 17 years and has two children. When she is not mucking around in the wetlands, she enjoys spending time with her family and biking, cooking, and skiing.

Mahlburg 2017-2018 Season Lecture #2

Pioneer Woman in the Oil Industry

Date: Sunday, November 19th 2017

Time: 2:00 PM-  3:00 PM

Micropaleontology is the branch of paleontology that studies microfossils, or fossils that require the use of a microscope to see the organism, its morphology and its characteristics and details. Microfossils, particularly from deep-sea sediments,  provide some of the most important records of global environmental change on long, medium or short timescales.  

As one of the first women to do well-site micropaleontology analysis in the Gulf of Mexico, Nancy will share her experiences as a female pioneer in the oil and gas industry.  She has sat over 40 wells including off-shore Trinidad and Israel.  

In this talk, Nancy will share her work in areas such as: the development of chronostratigraphic frameworks & integrated geologic models for exploration and exploitation reservoir characterization studies including the identification of depositional systems and flow units, and micropaleontological sample analysis.


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Nancy L. Engelhardt-Moore                                                                                           

Nancy is a geoscientist and paleontologist current living in Houston, Texas.  She received her B.A. from the University of Wisconsin at Whitewater and her M.S. in Geology with a specialization in Micropaleontology from Northern Illinois University.  In July 1980, she was hired by Amoco Production Co., in Houston, Texas where she began working as a micropaleontologist.  In November of 1980, Nancy was sent to sit her first well, which turned out to be the #1 494-S Brazos Block in the Gulf of Mexico offshore Texas.  With this historic assignment, Nancy became one of the first women to wellsite micropaleontology analysis in the Gulf of Mexico.  

Join us in welcoming Nancy home…Nancy is  a Harlem and RVC grad!

Season Lecture #1

Date: Sunday, October 8th 2017

Time: 2:00 PM-  3:00 PM

Bats represent one quarter of all mammal species on earth.  They are inextricably linked to the health of our environment and our agricultural systems.  Locally, bats are busily at work on mosquito control and crop pest reduction.

Little Brown Bat Mahlburg

This program will examine our local bats and the challenges they face.  We will take a quick tour of the world’s bats, and examine the attitudes people have towards bats in different cultures.  We will look at the risks and benefits to welcoming bats to your landscape and ways you can accommodate and encourage bats without conflict.

The program will include a demonstration of the bat detection microphone and recorder that Barbara is using to monitor bat populations her in Winnebago County.



Please call 815.965.3433 or visit for more information.

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About The Speaker

Barbara Williams                                                                                           

Barbara Williams has monitored the bat population by eavesdropping on their vocalizations starting in the spring of 2016 with the goal of collecting information on the relative abundance of different species of bats that live in Northern Illinois.  Barbara is a life-long student of natural history with ten years experience in Burpee Museum’s Biology Department.