top of page

Meet our Treasurer, Katie

Katie Drum grew up creek-walking and exploring local urban forests, while also spending summers with family in the Northwoods of Wisconsin, camping, hiking, and swimming.

Katie grew up in the area, calling Sycamore home from 1995 through the early aughts, before she moved to DeKalb where she has resided for the past 23 years. Access to spending time outdoors and interacting with nature has been a common thread in her personal life and professional career. She is a Northern Illinois University alum, having graduated cum laude from the School of Art & Design in 2005 with a bachelor’s in fine art.

She used her passion for art to briefly work in retail sales management roles for companies such as Blick Art Materials and Anthropologie, before she began working as the Farm Store Manager and later, Account Manager at a local, “farm to table” organic vegetable and honeybee farm. For roughly five years, Katie interacted with clients like Whole Foods and Lettuce Entertain You, and other prominent Chicago-land restaurants and grocers, all while cultivating knowledge about

responsible land management practices and native pollinator preservation.

Katie utilized her graphic design and communication experience to market the farm’s sustainable products, programs, and events, while still being a part of the farm team by helping water greenhouses,

pack CSA (Community Shared Agriculture) boxes, jar raw honey, and assist with livestock care. It

was finally around this time she gave into the desire to switch career gears with her growing interest in nature conservation, community, and working at an organization who was equally passionate about public land use and access to outdoor recreation.

For the past decade, she has been a certified marketing professional in the field of Parks and

Recreation, four years of which she has served as the Marketing Manager for the DeKalb Park

District. In 2016, she was awarded the Rising Star Award from the IPRA (Illinois Parks and

Recreation Association) Communication and Marketing Section and had the opportunity to be a part of the Marketing Taskforce for the state-wide, Unplug Illinois Campaign.

She loves working and serving the community in which she lives, especially at an organization whose mission and values align with her own. Enriching the lives of individuals and families with the physical and mental health benefits nature provides, particularly in children, has been a very rewarding portion of her Parks and Recreation career. Katie hopes her creative communication skills helps expose people to the natural beauty of DeKalb County and lead healthier lives through participation in community programs and events.

In her spare time, she loves to make art and spend as much time outdoors as possible through gardening, backpacking, or camping with friends, family, her husband Jason and their Australian Cattle Dog, Neko. As the Kish Kids Outside Board Treasurer, Katie is excited to lend her skills to help build the foundation of the newly formed 501c3 with a group of like-minded

outdoor enthusiasts, who equally prioritize the

importance of exposing children to nature.

What inspired you to become involved with Kish Kids Outside and its mission?

During the pandemic and as a new employee at the DeKalb Park District, I became aware of

KKO’s mission and goals, and immediately volunteered myself to fill the vacant liaison role as part of the affiliate partnership between KKO and the DPD. When KKO officially became a 501c3 in late 2023 and I was asked to become one of the founding board members, it was KKO’s important mission that led me to say, “sign me up!”

Can you share a favorite outdoor memory from your own childhood or recent experiences?

Recently, I have become a more active long-distance backpacker and hiker. I’m proud to have hiked many miles throughout the Midwest all the way to international shores in the Wicklow

Mountains of Eastern Ireland. Spending extended time outdoors brings me back to my childhood time after time, a childhood where I was fortunate enough to slow down and spend most of my day outdoors exploring the beauty of the natural world. I think we take these experiences for granted, as there are many children who don’t have access to hands-on learning outdoors and have never spent time connecting with nature. I will be a life-long advocate for all people, especially children, to have this experience.

In what ways do you hope Kish Kids Outside will evolve and grow in the future?

Dekalb County and beyond is lucky to have numerous conservation areas to explore, locally in our shared urban spaces, but also through a plethora of forest preserves and state park sites, each brimming with their own set of wildlife. These spaces are maintained by a variety of local organizations, and I hope KKO can help connect those organizations with more families that reside

within DeKalb County.

What is a memorable moment with Kish Kids Outside?

There have been several KKO affiliate partner meetings where you are sitting at the same table together with local public libraries, forest preserve district, county-wide park district, and local health professional representatives, brainstorming ways we can collectively enrich the lives of DeKalb County children. The sharing of mutual goals and public needs is how the KKO Family Club idea was born, to create a sense of community and more outdoor educational opportunities for families in the area. It was a moment that showed the power of many minds coming together to benefit the whole.


bottom of page