Meet the Friends of Volo Bog Board of Directors
Youth Program Naturalist
Gift Shop Coordinator
Friends of Volo Bog would like to give a special thank you to the following board members that contributed substantially to Friends of Volo Bog.
Youth Program Naturalist
Board Vice Chairperson
Prairie Garden Coordinator
Volunteer of the year awards
Board of Directors - Current & Past
2003 & 2014
2005, 2007 & 2011
1987 & 2000
Non Directors - Current Volunteers
Juia & Nina Denne
Richard Wend retires as Treasurer on the board of directors for the Friends of Volo Bog having been a member of the friends group for 25 years plus. The dinner held in his honor on February 13th 2009 at Docks in McHenry and present at the dinner was the site superintendent, Greg Kelly with Wife Shelley, the site naturalist, Stacy Iwanick with, husband Mike & their exchange student from Turkey, Celal Salan; fellow board members: Joel Orlinsky, Gail Goeke, John Holmes, Randy Schiezelt with wife Nancy, Carol Shaffer, Bill Ewert, Jan Wemple (taking Photos) and Bob Vetter with wife Karen.
Richard was named Volo Bog’s Volunteer of the Year for years 1987 & 2000, plus from the very beginning, he has been an active member of the Lake County Astronomical Society, which meets once a month in the Volo Bog visitor center. He writes all their articles featured in the Bog Log, and for many years he ran their meetings.
Richard Wend Recognized for a quarter-decade of devotion
by Stacy Iwanicki
In January, Richard Wend announced that he was ready to retire from the Friends of Volo Bog’s Board of Directors. After serving as the club’s membership chairman and treasurer non-stop since 1985, he was due! Over the years Richard has led guided bog tours, staffed the gift shop, coordinated food service at special events, written for The Bog Log (which he continues to do), carved over 300 pumpkins for Ghost Stories, and perhaps most famously, hosted Volo Bog’s Astronomy Nights for sixteen years. With all this experience, I decided it was time to sit down with Richard and gather some of his memories to share with our readers.
Photos by Jan Wemple
Hardly a day goes by that we don’t get a visitor stopping in for the first time - meaning to do so for years while passing us by on Highway 12 - heading somewhere. Most of us only know this U.S. interstate as a four-lane divided highway. Richard however remembers when the paved road from The City curved at Volo, heading westward toward McHenry. The road that continued northward was gravel and clay, "very slippery when wet," as it passed by Volo Bog heading into Fox Lake. "The road went up and down, up and down, with the rolling landscape. When they paved it they chopped off the tops of the hills and filled the low areas."
Richard first came up to the area in the 1920s as a small boy from Chicago, visiting his grandparents at their Fox Lake Cottage. Between the little house and Grass Lake lay a wet field of saw grass. "We made tunnels through the sharp grass. Crawling on our hands and knees we’d make a kind of city maze. My uncle showed me and my cousin how to mat down the sharp grass with our gloved hands and tie it together for a roof up above." Richard remembers exploring Grass Lake in a row boat and later with his cousin in a 2-person kayak - rowing and paddling among the lotus beds for which the area was famous. Later, large boats brought tourists to enjoy the spectacle. Richard and his cousin were offended one day by a boat guide who warned them not to pick their flowers!
As Richard got older, he began venturing up to Fox Lake on his own. Catching the midnight train out of the Western Avenue Station, he’d arrive in Fox Lake at 1:00 a.m. then walk the last mile to the cottage in the dark. These solo "night hikes" no doubt imbedded a love of the night sky in our would-be astronomer!
In 1978, Richard moved to The Cottage. Like many of the summer cottages, he turned his new home into a full-time residence. The marsh across the way was slowly being taken over by box elder and silver maple, blocking his view of the lake and a bit of the sky as well. He built a small shed in the back yard specifically to house his new telescope.
In 1980 Richard saw a bumper sticker that read "Save Volo Bog" and amazingly for a lover of all things outdoors, this was the first he’d heard of the place. A neighbor told him what and where it was. When he first came out, the parking area was south of where it is now - down by where the maintenance area now sits. The Visitor Center was just opening then and parking was soon established nearby.
One day, in 1983, while stopping in the Visitor Center he spotted a sign asking folks to "Join the Friends of Volo Bog" so he did. In the summer of 1985 he was elected to the FOVB board and appointed its treasurer, a position he held for the next 23 years!
Meanwhile, Richard’s choice of a humble home, converted from a Fox Lake summer cottage, left him in the enviable position of being "life rich" and he made the most of it in travels. His itinerary was often influenced by the pursuit of solar eclipses - cruises took him off the coasts of California, Mexico and Africa. "A ship can maneuver around weather systems to almost guarantee a good view. Those on land are dependent on the cooperation of the sky." Astronomical conventions are strategically held under the dark skies found in the most remote areas. Such conventions have taken Richard to enjoy the big horizons in North Dakota and Key West of Florida.
Not all of Richard’s travels have centered around astronomy. He’s traveled by foot and tram throughout the Swiss Alps where "the mountains blocked out much of the sky." Two summer Alaskan trips of course were completely void of a night sky. Richard has also cruised inland. In the United States it was along the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers. Abroad, he’s been down the Rhine from Germany through France into Rotterdam of The Netherlands where kilometer-markers along the river corresponded to the map! He’s even been inside the Grand Gallery of the Great Pyramid in Egypt - no night sky there!
An astronomy buff, it was the dark skies that drew Richard north out of the city to Fox Lake. When Volo Bog’s first interpreter, Alexia Trzyna brought an astronomer up from Adler Planetarium, Richard got an idea - start star viewing at Volo Bog. Thus in October 1985 with "The Fall Skies" Volo Bog’s Astronomy Nights was born. Richard ran Astronomy Nights for the next sixteen years. Ironically, just as he was contemplating retirement from Astronomy Nights, the Lake County Astronomical Society was seeking a new venue for their meetings. In January 2002, LCAS moved their club to Volo Bog and named Richard an honorary member.
Richard remains active in the community, continuing to write for and coordinate mailing of The Bog Log. He also continues to serve on the Fox Lake Library Board. The skies are not as dark as they used to be but Richard is still looking forward to hauling his telescope out for a viewing this summer from the back yard of his humble Cottage in Fox Lake.