Strengthening Our Foundation: How Our Volunteers #thanknature

How do supporters and volunteers of The Conservation Foundation #thanknature?

By cleaning it up, restoring it, and showing it some love.

Nothing feels quite as good as working hard at work worth doing (except maybe a nice massage afterwards)! Volunteers are an integral part of achieving the mission of The Conservation Foundation, carrying out our mission in the water, on the land, and in the heart of our communities. 

And our volunteers have been killin’ it lately, all across our service area!!  Here are just a few stories of the impacts their efforts have had.  We could never thank them enough for helping us #thanknature.

 

Bluegrass Parkway, Oswego

Bluegrass Parkway, an important migratory bird habitat winding amongst the Churchill Club neighborhood, has benefitted from the hard work of volunteers at multiple workdays of late.  Volunteers from Oswego East High School, the Churchill Club neighborhood, and the Oswegoland Park District joined in tree planting, seed collecting and litter cleanup on multiple occasions, including a “Green Friday” effort the day after Thanksgiving.   The group plans to make this a regular thing in 2022, kicking off their spring season with an Earth Day work day in April.

O’Hara Woods, Romeoville

The Conservation Foundation’s partnership with the Village of Romeoville and the Forest Preserve District of Will County to restore the O’Hara Woods Nature Preserve has grown energetic legs thanks to students from Romeoville High School, local citizens and even some volunteers from our Dayton Bluffs Preserve who just wanted to see how and where else they could get their hands dirty and help nature.  By clearing the woods of invasive species, cleaning up 50+ years’ accumulation of dead wood and thinning out trees and shrubs growing too densely together, these dedicated volunteers are moving us toward our management goal of having native species thrive at O’Hara Woods throughout the year.  In healthy woodlands, the flush of spring ephemerals is followed by the emergence of other native plant species that take their place come summer.  The spring wildflower display at O’Hara Woods is a showstopper, but the desired natural succession is currently not happening due to dense canopy cover as a result of decades of fire suppression, which leaves the soil at O’Hara Woods bare after the spring plants die back. Our management work, with the help of our ecological contractor V3 and our enthusiastic volunteers, will encourage the reemergence of native species throughout the year.   Our efforts at O’Hara Woods are generously funded by CITGO.

McDonald Farm, Naperville

In addition to the loyal volunteers who regularly help out with all manner of things at our McDonald Farm headquarters in Naperville, two specialized work days have focused on improving educational spaces for our youth and family environmental education and vegetable gardening programs.  A group from Wintrust Bank came out in November to clear brush from around our three ponds and wetland area, improving access for kids looking to explore the shoreline and discover what lives in a wetland habitat.  These volunteers brought incredible energy and enthusiasm to a big job!

 

Our Children’s Gardens at McDonald Farm also got some special care as 12 volunteers got them all tucked in for winter.  After taking out old vegetable plants, these volunteers added compost from our Green Earth Harvest organic farming operation to the garden beds and covered them with straw. They also put woodchips on the pathways and added soil to the play pile. It won’t be long before kids will be back in the garden exploring all that it has to offer and experiencing nature with all of their senses!

It’s Our Fox River Day, St. Charles and Oswego

Volunteers helped us show the beautiful Fox River some love at the two different cleanup sites we hosted for It’s Our Fox River Day, which includes cleanup events all up and down the Fox River organized by our partners the Friends of the Fox River.

Our cleanup in St. Charles saw an incredible 150 volunteers descend upon the river and its banks to clear it of trash and debris!  We also added a cleanup site in Oswego this year, with 55 volunteers joining us.  Hailing from St. Charles, Batavia, Woodstock, Geneva, Yorkville, but also Naperville, Montgomery, Aurora, and Oswego, this energetic group spent their morning, some by land and some by water, picking up trash and debris to clean up the Fox. It was particularly inspiring to see the members of American Heritage Girls Troop #2031 happily turning to the task, finding river treasures and friends along the way.  The River Corridor Foundation of St. Charles, the St. Charles Park District, the Kendall County Outdoor Education Center and the Yorkville Parks and Recreation Department were fantastic partners, helping this incredible volunteer effort come together and make a dynamic impact on the Fox River and the communities along its shores.

volunteer cleaning

If you are interested in more opportunities like this with The Conservation Foundation, please be sure to apply to be a volunteer at https://www.theconservationfoundation.org/get-involved/volunteer/

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