The Nature Foundation of Will County presented its final 2020 donation to the Forest Preserve District on November 12.
The $48,610 check brings the total amount of 2020 donations from the foundation to $67,500.
The two projects that will be funded by the most recent donation are:
- $10,000 for a welcome station at Goodenow Grove Campground, which will include a detailed campsite location map, campsite markers and a solar charging station. The Forest Preserve District hopes to have this new amenity available for the 2021 camping season.
- $38,610 for a 17-acre wetland swale and upland buffer restoration project at Goodenow Grove Nature Preserve, which is home to the state-threatened Kirtland’s snake. This donation pays the Forest Preserve’s matching funds for a $112,500 Illinois Special Wildlife Grant from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.
So far this year, foundation funding has been used by the District for a variety of education, arts and interpretation, and recreation programs as well as natural areas restoration projects, including the following:
- Education program supplies.
- Preserve the Moment photo contest.
- “Nature Takes Flight” juried art competition.
- Bicycle repair stations along Veterans Memorial/Centennial Trail and DuPage River Trail.
- "Woods Walk" program.
- A new doggy fire hydrant and shade tree at Hammel Woods Dog Park.
- Special exhibitions such as the “Found Objects Sculpture Trail” at Plum Creek Nature Center and the “Deconstructing Native American Stereotypes” exhibit at Isle a la Cache Museum.
Also, $2,680 went to a Restore Will County Land Stewardship Grant and a Serve Will County Youth Service Grant, which both benefit the Forest Preserve District.
Stewardship grants allow the volunteer stewards to purchase the equipment, supplies, and plant material they need to assist in taking care of the forest preserves.
Created in 2020, the Youth Service Grant Program provides funding in the form of grants to youth engaged in a service project with the Forest Preserve District and helps to satisfy the fundraising requirements many of these projects have.
Cindy Harn, the foundation's executive director, said her organization is being realistic as it plans for next year's fundraising campaign.
"We think we’ve created a plan that will allow us to continue supporting the Forest Preserve’s conservation, education and recreation programs and initiatives while also giving us the flexibility to adapt and adjust things in response to the pandemic," she said. "We have an amazing family of donors and supporters and we are so very grateful for their continuing support. Their love of nature and their support is what gives our mission life and makes all this possible!"
Harn said the foundation also is busy working on its year-end campaign, Nature Matters!
"Nature is important for our physical and mental health," she said. "Fresh air, sunshine and the beauty of nature affects us deeply. It can help to ease our worries, reduce stress, and help us think more clearly. It can help us find the balance we need when everything seems out of balance. It can give us hope and peace. Nature is not an amenity; nature is a necessity."
Harn said the year-end campaign's goal is $12,000 and the money will be used to fund restoration of natural areas and to help expand the foundation's annual native plant initiative, "Bringing Nature Home" plant sale, to offer more resources, virtual seminars, a native seed and plant exchange group and more native plant sales.
Nature Matters! funds also will be used to provide financial support for things such as WillysWilderness.org, the "Woods Walk" self-paced hiking program, the Preserve the Moment photo contest, the "Sculpting Wild" juried art competition and the National Park Service "Inspired by Endangered Species" quilt exhibition, Harn added.
The Nature Foundation of Will County is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization dedicated to supporting education, recreation and conservation programs that protect nature and enrich lives in Will County.
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