Nature and history are passions for Morton Grove native
Mary Busch of Morton Grove, the museum curator and naturalist at the Morton Grove Historical Museum, looks through the natural history exhibit "Wild Things of Morton Grove" on Thursday, Jan. 3, 2012 which is shown to children through school programs at the education center. | Ryan Pagelow~Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 16, 2013 8:38AM
MORTON GROVE — It’s no surprise that Mary Busch drives a Toyota Prius hybrid or that she lives in Morton Grove where 20 percent of the village is comprised of Cook County Forest Preserve land.
For most of her life Busch, curator of the Morton Grove Historical Museum, has had an appreciation for nature, whether it was playing in the village’s open land as a kid or volunteering as a co-steward in the Linne Prairie Restoration Project, working to restore the native prairie following construction of the Deep Tunnel project.
But her connection to the village and nature go beyond that. She has served as a member of the village’s Natural Resources Commission since it was created, part of that time as chairman.
Busch, who holds a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies, has also held special programs for students in Golf Elementary School District 67, where her eight children attended.
She has worked as curator of the museum since Sept. 2007 and helped in the final stages of development of the education center that opened in 2008.
And as part of her role as mom to eight kids, she has served as a Girl Scout leader and coach and referee for AYSO soccer.
Q: You were born in Morton Grove, but why have you spent so much of your life in the village?
A: I was born here in 1961. I lived for a while in other places, but I’ve spent probably 45 of my years in Morton Grove. I really do like the people. I like that Morton Grove has become so diverse, so many cultures have come here. It still has a small town character. What I like about Morton Grove is that people pitch in and contribute to the health and welfare of the whole community. As a naturalist I love that 20 percent is natural forest preserve. I don’t think I could live without that.
Q: Why do you have this strong connection to nature?
A: When I grew up we rode our bikes all over town. We rode over the dirt hills or the open spaces where Prairie View Park is today. There were nice open spaces to explore as a kid. With my degree in environmental studies I’m qualified to be an environmental educator, a naturalist.
Q: How did you become involved with the historical museum?
A: It was in 2005, about the same time that the Natural Resources Commission was created, Mary Walsh (former museum curator) let me know there was an opening for an assistant curator. I had done natural history projects for them and Mary knew I had a strong natural history background. When May Walsh moved on I was chosen as curator because of my strong sense of community and my knowledge of village history. I guess I was the best person for the curator job.
Q: What have you tried to do to keep the museum relevant to the community?
A: It was a big move, a big change to be able to have school groups and a little more space for storage of artifacts. We’ve tried to involve the community in the exhibits. We’ve had short-term exhibits that we try to make relevant to what’s happening today. One of the best things we have done is the Veterans History Project.
Q: How have you incorporated newer technology into museum activities?
A: We’ve tried to keep up with technology and the more recent past. We have become involved in geocaching at historical sites in the village.
Q: What is the most important thing you have done?
A: I’m a mom. I’m a grandmother. And then there’s everything else.”