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'A Job Well Done' by High School Student Volunteers

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Photo by Adam Oestmann

High School students from around the region volunteered to help improve the forest preserves during the week of June 17.

More than 100 students from six high schools participated in workdays at Theodore Marsh Preserve in Crest Hill and Plum Valley Ravines in Crete Township.

“They came out in a big way to give back to the environment,” said volunteer supervisor Renee Gauchat.

Using hand saws and loppers, the students removed invasive buckthorn during the hot and humid weather, but they were undaunted because of their youthful exuberance, Gauchat said.

“From restoration to trail and roadway cleanup, the students were out in force,” Gauchat added. "The return on the investment to the District was seen in acreage restored and trails cleaned.”


Some of the high school students came through the University of St. Francis’ recruitment program, which encourages its college applicants to volunteer. Other high schools signed up for the work week directly through the Forest Preserve District's volunteer program.

The participating high schools were: Joliet Catholic Academy; and Joliet Central, Providence, Lincoln-Way Central, Bloom and Bloom Trail high schools.

Adam Oestmann, a Forest Preserve operations supervisor who worked with students in eastern Will County, was impressed with how much the group accomplished. 

“In just a few hours of work, the students of Bloom and Bloom Trail high schools managed to pick up enough trash along Old Post Road to fill and nearly overflow the back of a heavy-duty pickup truck. And as of today, Plum Valley Ravines is as pristine as it ought to be.”

Oestmann said seeing the teens learn about community service and how they can make a difference is what the volunteer program is all about.

“When the litter was all cleaned up, the kids got to walk back to their bus through the preserve and look back on a job well done and be proud of their work,” he said.

And the results will be appreciated by all who drive through that area, Oestmann added. 

“Those who use that stretch of roadway frequently know that the beautiful forest view is often tainted with discarded fast food containers, beer and soda cans, and other household trash,” he said. 

Groups that are interested in volunteering with the Forest Preserve District should contact Gauchat at 815.722.7364 or 


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