Create Holiday Memories At Abbey Farm

Abbey Farm has thousands of trees ready to be the centerpiece of your holiday decor. You just have to get out there and cut one

Abbey Farm has thousands of trees ready to be the centerpiece of your holiday decor. You just have to get out there and cut one

Heading into the woods with a saw to find the family Christmas tree is as traditional of an American Christmas image as a Norman Rockwell painting. There aren’t many places in the Chicago area where you can cut your own Christmas tree. For this ‘Farm to Table’ segment University of Illinois Extension educator Richard Hentschel and First Light host Brian O’Keefe visited the Abbey Farm at Marmion Academy. It’s one of the places where you can still ‘cut your own’ Christmas tree

Abbey Farm in Aurora has acres and acres of trees at one of the few ‘you cut’ tree farms in the Chicago area.

Abbey Farm in Aurora has acres and acres of trees at one of the few ‘you cut’ tree farms in the Chicago area.

Community Foundations Make The Most Of Philanthropy

Across the country, there are hundreds of locally administered organizations working to maximize philanthropic efforts. This month those groups celebrated Community Foundation week. The DuPage Foundation capped its recognition of the week with its annual gala, The Imagination Ball raised nearly $400-thousand to support educational, arts, and human services programs in the county. First Light host Brian O’Keefe sat down recently with DuPage Foundation CEO Dave McGowan; he says the concept of community foundations has its roots right here in the Midwest

DuPage Foundation CEO Dave McGowan

DuPage Foundation CEO Dave McGowan

Glen Ellyn Couple Rolls The Dice On Board Games

Ridiculous Expositions is the latest game offering from Gray Matters Games

Ridiculous Expositions is the latest game offering from Gray Matters Games

Throughout the holiday season, family, friends, and neighbors will get together. Figuring out how to keep everyone entertained can sometimes be a challenge. A Glen Ellyn couple has a solution…play a game; hopefully one of the games their company Gray Matters Games created. Earlier this year, Joe and Lauren Barron invited First Light host Brian O’Keefe into their home to talk about their games and the resurgence in board games

Gray Matters Games founders Joe & Lauren Barron host games nights each month at their home. It’s part social, part promotion, and part research and development for the company

Gray Matters Games founders Joe & Lauren Barron host games nights each month at their home. It’s part social, part promotion, and part research and development for the company

Encouraging Kids To Explore Art

Kids in Normal’s ‘Art Around You” program not only explore the exhibits at University Galleries, they also get to make some art of their own. (photo courtesy of Laura Kennedy/WGLT)

Kids in Normal’s ‘Art Around You” program not only explore the exhibits at University Galleries, they also get to make some art of their own. (photo courtesy of Laura Kennedy/WGLT)

This week in our look at stories from around the state, we have this story from Illinois Public Radio’s Laura Kennedy. A new grant to the Children's Discovery Museum in Normal lets curators open the doors to let the kids go out and about to find new artistic experiences. The new program is called ‘Art Around You.’ The explorations take children to the University Galleries at Illinois State University where they discover the art on display. Laura Kennedy went along on a recent exploration

“Art Around You’ is a chance to expose children to the various art exhibits on display in and around Normal (photo courtesy of Laura Kennedy/WGLT)

“Art Around You’ is a chance to expose children to the various art exhibits on display in and around Normal (photo courtesy of Laura Kennedy/WGLT)

Looking For Wild Turkeys In DuPage County

DuPage Forest Preserve Senior Ranger David Sima (left) and First Light host Brian O’Keefe went looking for wild turkeys at St. James Farm in west Wheaton

DuPage Forest Preserve Senior Ranger David Sima (left) and First Light host Brian O’Keefe went looking for wild turkeys at St. James Farm in west Wheaton

This week, First Light host Brian O’Keefe went into the woods with DuPage Forest Preserve ranger David Sima. It has become increasingly common over the past 10 to 15 years for people to encounter wild turkeys in a number of forest preserves. With Thanksgiving just a few days away, David and Brian met at the St. James Farm Forest Preserve in west Wheaton in hopes of finding one of the county’s flocks of wild turkeys

There are wild turkeys in the DuPage Forest Preserves, but Forest Preserve Senior Ranger David Sima and First Light host Brian O’Keefe weren’t able to find them

There are wild turkeys in the DuPage Forest Preserves, but Forest Preserve Senior Ranger David Sima and First Light host Brian O’Keefe weren’t able to find them

Empowering Young People With Bikes

West Town Bikes Resource Development Director Garth Katner (left) talks about the program with First Light host Brian O’Keefe

West Town Bikes Resource Development Director Garth Katner (left) talks about the program with First Light host Brian O’Keefe

For all but the most dedicated riders, the arrival of the first snow flurries of the season signal the end of the cycling season. Despite that, a group of Chicago cyclists and philanthropists didn’t let a blast of cold air deter them earlier this week. First Light host Brian O’Keefe visited with them at ‘Bike-citement’

Ulana Coutts is one of the young people to benefit from the West Town Bikes youth training program. Ulana works on bikes at Ciclo Urbano while studying to become a welder

Ulana Coutts is one of the young people to benefit from the West Town Bikes youth training program. Ulana works on bikes at Ciclo Urbano while studying to become a welder

Creating A Centerpiece For Your Thanksgiving Table

College of DuPage Floral Design instructor Denise Walden takes listeners through the steps of creating a festive centerpiece

College of DuPage Floral Design instructor Denise Walden takes listeners through the steps of creating a festive centerpiece

A lot that needs to be done this week to prepare for Thursday’s family feast. Of course there’s the food, preparing the table, and for goodness sake don’t forget to pick up a bag of ice…that was usually First Light host Brian O’Keefe’s Thanksgiving job. If you want to add a personal touch to your table, College of DuPage floral design instructor Denise Walden has a few tips

Rows and rows of poinsettias at the College of DuPage greenhouse are close to being ready for the holiday season

Rows and rows of poinsettias at the College of DuPage greenhouse are close to being ready for the holiday season

Researchers Track Migration Patterns With Bird Banding

This week in our look at stories from around the state…we check in with Illinois Public Radio’s Connie Kuntz in Rockford. 2018 is the Year of the Bird…a year of education and outreach by bird enthusiasts. Bird banding is one way researchers track a bird's migration pattern. It's done by placing a small identification tag on a bird’s leg. Connie followed a Rockford University professor and took part in this seasonal ritual

After having a small identification band placed around its leg, this little bird was sent on its way (photo courtesy of WNIJ/Connie Kuntz)

After having a small identification band placed around its leg, this little bird was sent on its way (photo courtesy of WNIJ/Connie Kuntz)

A very fine ‘mist net’ is used to catch birds. Researchers carefully remove them from the net, band them and release them to continue migration (photo courtesy of WNIJ/Connie Kuntz)

A very fine ‘mist net’ is used to catch birds. Researchers carefully remove them from the net, band them and release them to continue migration (photo courtesy of WNIJ/Connie Kuntz)

A downy woodpecker was among the species caught and banded during a recent migratory bird study near Rockford (photo courtesy of WNIJ/Connie Kuntz)

A downy woodpecker was among the species caught and banded during a recent migratory bird study near Rockford (photo courtesy of WNIJ/Connie Kuntz)

Fermi Lab Internship Gives Veterans A Hand Up

On the surface, it may seem a little strange for a high level research center to turn to the veteran community as a resource for new workers. For the Batavia based Fermi Lab, it’s been a perfect match. First Light host Brian O’Keefe talked with a couple of the veterans involved in the Vet-Tech Internship program

US Navy veteran Frederick Davis went from maintaining diesel engines on a ship to working on particle accelerator components at Fermi thanks to a internship program

US Navy veteran Frederick Davis went from maintaining diesel engines on a ship to working on particle accelerator components at Fermi thanks to a internship program

Navy veteran Frederick Davis is working on a mechanical engineering degree and getting real world experience at Fermi Lab thanks to the Vet-Tech Internship program

Navy veteran Frederick Davis is working on a mechanical engineering degree and getting real world experience at Fermi Lab thanks to the Vet-Tech Internship program

Symbol of Civic Pride Takes On A New Role

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At nearly 55 years old, an Aurora resident is being pressed into service on this veteran’s day. Andy Aurora traded his signature look for camouflaged fatigues. First Light host Brian O’Keefe talked to the people who drafted him into service

Aurora Andy patches are available for veterans at the Aurora Historical Society gift shop

Aurora Andy patches are available for veterans at the Aurora Historical Society gift shop

You don’t have to be a veteran to show your civic pride with Aurora Andy

You don’t have to be a veteran to show your civic pride with Aurora Andy

Operation Support Our Troops Serves Active Duty Military & Veterans

A clear mock-up of an Operation Support Our Troops care package box illustrates just how much the group is able to pack into one cubic foot of space

A clear mock-up of an Operation Support Our Troops care package box illustrates just how much the group is able to pack into one cubic foot of space

The nation pauses today to remember and honor those who have served in the military. Locally, there’s an organization that works to serve veterans and active duty soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines every day of the year. Operation Support Our Troops has an office and warehouse space deep inside a Lisle industrial park. From there, it sends care packages to military members serving overseas. The organization is committed to helping veterans after they leave service. Leon Mangum coordinates an OSOT program to assist veterans who face financial troubles, Sue Liston is the organization’s Administrative Director. First Light host Brian O’Keefe met with Leon and Sue while a group of volunteers packed care-packages and Christmas stockings in the OSOT warehouse

Eight palates of care packages waiting for pick-up from the Operation Support Our Troops warehouse loading dock

Eight palates of care packages waiting for pick-up from the Operation Support Our Troops warehouse loading dock

Just a sample of the thank you messages Operation Support Our Troops has received over the past 15 years.

Just a sample of the thank you messages Operation Support Our Troops has received over the past 15 years.

Coffee Connoisseurs Gather In Warrenville

Hundreds of coffee enthusiasts gathered in Warrenville for Coffee-Con

Hundreds of coffee enthusiasts gathered in Warrenville for Coffee-Con

Even though you got an extra hour of sleep last night, and the sun’s been up for about a half hour, a fresh cup of coffee or tea still sounds like a good idea. While you enjoy it, First Light host Brian O’Keefe takes listeners out to a recent gathering of self-described coffee-nerds

Coffee-Con founder and creator Kevin Sinnott spoke with attendees about the future of coffee during one of the event’s many seminars and workshops

Coffee-Con founder and creator Kevin Sinnott spoke with attendees about the future of coffee during one of the event’s many seminars and workshops

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The Mission of Two Explorers Comes To an End

Each month, on the first Sunday, College of DuPage Astronomy professor Joe DalSanto joins First Light host Brian O’Keefe for a discussion of what backyard astronomers can expect to see in the night sky. Joe and Brian also take some time to talk about the latest space news.

The Mars rover Opportunity stopped responding to communication from NASA, a massive dust storm likely coated the rover’s solar panels and ended its ability to generate power

The Mars rover Opportunity stopped responding to communication from NASA, a massive dust storm likely coated the rover’s solar panels and ended its ability to generate power

The Kepler Space Telescope mission came to an end after nine years of looking for planets outside our solar system

The Kepler Space Telescope mission came to an end after nine years of looking for planets outside our solar system

COD Celebrates Veterans With Annual Read-In

College of DuPage student and veteran Rich Ryan recounted his memory of service during the 2017 Veterans Day Read-In

College of DuPage student and veteran Rich Ryan recounted his memory of service during the 2017 Veterans Day Read-In

Next Sunday, the nation will remember and honor those who have served; and a week from tomorrow College of DuPage will host what has become a Veteran’s Day tradition. The Veterans Day Read-In invites students, faculty, staff, and community members to read from letters, poems and books that celebrate service. First Light host Brian O’Keefe talked with COD English Professor Bob Hazard. Hazard is one of the coordinators of the Veteran’s Day Read-In.

Members of the College of DuPage community listened to readers during the 2017 Veterans Day Read-In

Members of the College of DuPage community listened to readers during the 2017 Veterans Day Read-In

Central Illinois Communities Gather To Mourn And Remember

Community members read the names of those killed in the Pittsburgh Synagogue shooting (photo courtesy of Cindy Le/WGLT)

Community members read the names of those killed in the Pittsburgh Synagogue shooting (photo courtesy of Cindy Le/WGLT)

Each week at First Light, host Brian O’Keefe takes some time to check in with our Public Radio sister stations around the state. This week, the Bloomington Normal and Illinois State University communities gathered to mourn and rededicate themselves to good in the wake of last week’s synagogue shootings in Pittsburgh. A Jewish scholar told the crowd of more than 200 they should constantly imagine the world stands equally balanced between good and evil. Any action could be the one to tip the scale towards good. Illinois Public Radio’s Charlie Schlenker put together this audio montage from the vigil.

More than 200 people gathered for a vigil in Bloomington-Normal to remember and mourn (photo courtesy of Cindy Le/WGLT)

More than 200 people gathered for a vigil in Bloomington-Normal to remember and mourn (photo courtesy of Cindy Le/WGLT)

The Popular Park That Was Chicago's First Municipal Cemetery

Artist and historian Pamela Bannos led the Chicago History Museums “Garden of The Dead” walking tour through Lincoln Park

Artist and historian Pamela Bannos led the Chicago History Museums “Garden of The Dead” walking tour through Lincoln Park

There’s a little know story about one of Chicago’s favorite parks. It’s a story that is still part of, more specifically just below the surface of Lincoln Park. Earlier this week with a full moon illuminating the sky The Chicago History Museum hosted a walking tour of the park and pulled back the curtain on the story of its past. First Light host Brian O’Keefe took the tour.

Artist and historian Pamela Bannos installed a series of 10 historic markers in Lincoln Park to tell the story of Chicago’s first municipal cemetery

Artist and historian Pamela Bannos installed a series of 10 historic markers in Lincoln Park to tell the story of Chicago’s first municipal cemetery

Uncovering the story behind the Couch tomb was the impetus for Pamela Bannos to find the Hidden Truths about Chicago’s Lincoln Park

Uncovering the story behind the Couch tomb was the impetus for Pamela Bannos to find the Hidden Truths about Chicago’s Lincoln Park

Year Round Treats In Downtown Naperville

Jars and jars of gummi candies at Naper Nuts & Sweets

Jars and jars of gummi candies at Naper Nuts & Sweets

First Light host Brian O’Keefe doesn’t know if they can take a rainbow, wrap it in a sigh, soak it in the sun and make a ruby lemon pie; but for more than 30 years, Naper Nuts and Sweets has worked to make the world taste good.

Every flavor of jellybean imaginable

Every flavor of jellybean imaginable

The smell of freshly popped cheese and caramel corn lures people walking down Jefferson Ave. in downtown Naperville

The smell of freshly popped cheese and caramel corn lures people walking down Jefferson Ave. in downtown Naperville

Naper Nuts & Sweets manager Patty Faye (left) stands with one of the other candy-women at the downtown Naperville store

Naper Nuts & Sweets manager Patty Faye (left) stands with one of the other candy-women at the downtown Naperville store

Johansen Farms And Agritainment In Illinois

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Of course University of Illinois Extension educator Richard Hentschel and First Light host Brian O’Keefe had to head out to the pumpkin patch for this Halloween edition of the show. Illinois produces more of the orange gourds than any other state in the country. The seasonal crop has also become the centerpiece of the relatively new sector of the agriculture industry, something Richard calls “agri-tainment.” Richard and Brian stopped by Johannsen Farm in Bolingbrook and sat down with Carol Cremeens before the day’s crowd of pumpkin hunters arrived.

A banner welcomes pumpkin hunters to the Johansen Farms farm stand in Bolingbrook

A banner welcomes pumpkin hunters to the Johansen Farms farm stand in Bolingbrook

Plenty of pumpkins waiting to become jack-o-lanterns at Johansen Farms in Bolingbrook

Plenty of pumpkins waiting to become jack-o-lanterns at Johansen Farms in Bolingbrook

Central Illinois Man Hears Dead People

Eric Vogel says he’s recorded and felt the presence of ghosts, and you can too  (photo courtesy of WGLT/Laura Kennedy)

Eric Vogel says he’s recorded and felt the presence of ghosts, and you can too
(photo courtesy of WGLT/Laura Kennedy)

Each week, First Light brings you stories from around the state, this week a story from Illinois Public Radio’s Laura Kennedy. For one central Illinois man, there’s no need to wait for Halloween, any day can be spooky. He hears dead people; and says you can too. While some people collect stamps, or photograph people, places, and things, Laura says that isn’t the case for Bloomington-Normal’s Eric Vogle

Plan To Bring Tree-Hab To Kane County

Tree-Hab creator John Gathright brought his idea to the Geneva Natural Resources Committee and the Morton Arboretum this week

Tree-Hab creator John Gathright brought his idea to the Geneva Natural Resources Committee and the Morton Arboretum this week

Do you remember climbing trees? A Kane County group wants to bring an international tree climbing program to the area. John Gathright developed ‘Tree-Hab’ after a successful career in Japanese media. First Light host Brian O’Keefe spoke with Gathright and Geneva Natural Resources Committee Chairman Jay Womack

Tree-Hab creator John Gathright (left) and First Light host Brian O’Keefe talked in the shade of an oak forest at Fabyan Woods Forest Preserve

Tree-Hab creator John Gathright (left) and First Light host Brian O’Keefe talked in the shade of an oak forest at Fabyan Woods Forest Preserve