mountain lionFans of the Kane Country Cougars, an American Association of Professional baseball team in Geneva, will be happy to hear their mascot is coming back to the state. Cougars, also known as pumas or mountain lions, have had an increase in sightings in Illinois over recent years.

Mountain lions were all but extinct in Illinois, having been eradicated from the state prior to the 1870s due to habitat loss and overharvesting, according to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. IDNR has reported only eight mountain lions have been found in Illinois in the last 20 years – two of the eight being in recent years. One was hit and killed on a highway in DeKalb County. The mountain lion’s body has been sent to the University of Illinois to be studied. It is believed this mountain lion migrated somewhere from the west. IDNR is currently tracking the second mountain lion in Illinois. This cougar is from Nebraska and has a GPS monitor. Sightings of these animals are becoming more frequent after having been absent from the state for so long. However, while mountain lions might sound intimidating, IDNR urges residents not to worry.

Mountain lions are unlikely to make contact with or harm humans. If someone comes across one of these cats, it is suggested to stand tall, look large, keep your eye on the animal, and slowly back away. It is not advised to run or try to intimidate them, they will generally ignore people if people ignore them. IDNR officials are also reminding the public that it is illegal to hunt, kill or harass mountain lions unless they pose an imminent threat. Cougars have been protected in Illinois since 2015.

If you want more information about the second mountain lion in Illinois, who originated from Nebraska, or if you want to report a sighting of another possible cat, you can do so here.

Etc 450Springfield’s Old State Capitol is finally getting the recognition it deserves. The National Park Service recently announced that the Old State Capitol has been accepted to the National Park Service’s National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom. The site, which is operated by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, is one of 17 new listings from the 43rd round of applications, representing sites and programs in 13 states across the nation. The new listings, alongside more than 700 sites, facilities and programs already in the Network, provide insight into the diverse experiences of freedom seekers who bravely escaped slavery and allies who assisted them.

Built in 1837, is the Old State Capitol is noted for being the site of candidacy announcements by former Presidents of the United States Abraham Lincoln and Barack Obama. The Old State Capitol also served as the seat of the Illinois Supreme Court from 1841 to 1872. During this time, the Court heard several cases that effected freedom seekers and allies operating within Illinois’ Underground Railroad. At least two cases were heard condemning allies who assisted freedom seekers: Eells v. The People and Willard v. The People, both of which ended in court fining the “conductors”. The most iconic case during this time, known as “Thornton’s Case,” which was the result of a Black man named Thornton who argued that a local constable wrongfully arrested him and that he should be freed. Since the local constable could not provide evidence to prove otherwise, the Illinois Supreme Court was forced to drop the charges against Thornton and release him from custody.

The National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom is designed to honor, preserve and promote the history of resistance to enslavement through escape and flight. Currently the Network represents more than 700 locations in 39 states. Through its mission, the Network to Freedom helps advance the idea that all human beings embrace the right to self-determination and freedom from oppression. To be able to link this historical site to the Underground Railroad, gives deeper insight into the rich history the city of Springfield possesses and its fight to ensure the safety of the African American residents.

The Old State Capitol is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. To learn more or plan a visit, please visit

Naperville RiverwalkIllinois is home to the Bears, deep dish pizza, Abraham Lincoln and to some of the best towns in America. A report from Money listed 50 places in the country as the best places to live in the U.S. These cities were chosen based on a method which analyzed economic opportunities, quality of life, diversity, education, health, fun and amenities, and more. Of these 50 places to live, two towns in Illinois were selected: Rogers Park and Naperville.

According to the top 50 list, Rogers Park is one of the most welcoming places to live, home to residents of all kinds of different religions, creeds and ethnicities. Roger Park is ranked 5th overall, and it is known as the most diverse neighborhood in Chicago. Roger Park is unique for its multiculturalism. When visiting Roger Park, one can come across a mosque, temple, synagogue or a church on any corner. Residents in Roger Park are part of a close-knit community who support and uplift each another.   

Naperville, ranked 16th on Money’s list, has been named the best place to be a kid by the U.S. Census Bureau. It’s not hard to see why families would have a great time raising their children in this city. The city has a number of locations perfect for families to visit, including a Riverwalk Park (seen in the image above), the Morton Arboretum, and even a manmade beach for summer lovers called Naperville’s Centennial Beach. Naperville also has some of the best public schools, making it a place where kids can learn and have fun.

To read more about the top 50 best places to live in the U.S., click here.

Illinois mapAccording to current data and census records, the state of Illinois has experienced a momentous increase in its population.

Illinois is a state that fosters diverse identities, professional growth, educational experiences, and scenic environments. Additionally, Illinois has seen six bond rating upgrades from the nation’s three leading credit rating agencies. Because of these attractive qualities, more people are calling Illinois home.

Even through the difficulties provoked by the COVID-19 pandemic, Illinois has continued to emerge as a thriving state. The recently released data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau corroborates that Illinois is flourishing as it unremittingly welcomes innovation and growth in all aspects. Now, Illinois’ population includes more than 13 million people who all call this state home.

Learn more about the population make-up of Illinois on the U.S. Census Bureau website.

University auditorium filled with studentsUnlike many colleges and universities across the country that are seeing increased absences and decreased enrollment, the University of Illinois Chicago has set a record for the largest enrollment in its history for the seventh consecutive year.

UIC is the second largest university in Illinois and is the largest university in the Chicago metropolitan area. It is also the city’s only public research institution and has 16 academic colleges that serve more than 34,000 undergraduate, graduate, and professional students.

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