The Nature Queen

By Laura Grandt

Jacklyn King, landscape division supervisor for the DeKalb Park District, is down to earth. Literally.

“I love the plants; the trees are fascinating,” she said. “It’s that special feeling you get when you see that tree on its way, and you put it there.”

King was raised near Champaign, Ill., and spent some time during her youth in DeKalb with family. She then moved to Seattle and returned to DeKalb for family reasons.

She has worked at the park district since 1992, after returning from Seattle where she was a traffic operator for AT&T.

Since beginning at the park district, King has had many different duties, including tending the grounds, gardens, trees and prairie, as well as habitat restoration and landscape construction, she said.

King’s knowledge of nature was self-taught. She said she had the benefit of books, good mentors and “stomping around” with her daughter.

“Nature is a good teacher,” she said.

King said she always has enjoyed nature.

“Once you start looking, you’d be surprised where you find nature,” she said.

There are several projects King has been involved in, including park cleanups with neighborhoods, she said.

One project that will take place this summer will be in conjunction with the Eagle Scouts. The group will create a sundial which will be laid in paver’s bricks. The unique feature of the sundial will be the gnomon, which will be a person standing in a strategic position.

King has won several awards for her work, but to her, the reward is in the work itself.

“I would rather be known as enthusiastic than as award-winning,” she said.

She said that she appreciates the awards, but she takes more pride in just doing her work.

King said there are trees at Welsh Park that she has tended to since her first year at the park district.

“That’s the kind of thing I see as my reward,” she said of the trees.

King won the Pride Award from the City of DeKalb in 2002, as well as a group award from the Master Gardeners in 2001.