Monee siblings Jason and Alexis Farquhar spent some of their holiday break from Crete-Monee Middle School cleaning up litter at several forest preserves near their home.
“We focused primarily on cleaning up the frontage of Plum Valley Preserve (facing Route 394 and Burville Road) and Raccoon Grove Nature Preserve (facing Pauling Road) as well as Monee Reservoir (facing Pauling Road and Ridgeland Avenue),” their dad, Jay Farquhar, wrote in an email when asked for more details on his kids’ litter clean-up efforts. “That accounted for approximately 2 linear miles in 7.5 hours total.”
The work took place on December 26 and 27.
“We accumulated 10 large bags of garbage,” Jay wrote. “I’m glad we were able to make a difference and the weather was quite pleasant. Also, with much of the vegetation dormant it was easier to see and retrieve the garbage.”
In recognition of their volunteer work, Jason, 14, a member of Peotone Boy Scout Troop 315, and Alexis, 12, a member of Frankfort Square Girls Troop 732, received Boy Scouts of America Environmental Protection Award badges.
The badges were awarded by the Boy Scouts organization only in 2021 and they were designed to celebrate the EPA’s 50th anniversary.
“It was a way of reminding Scouts of the overlapping areas of concern shared by Boy Scouts in being environmentally conscientious,” Jay said.
But the EPA award was not the prime motivator for the December volunteer activities, Jay added.
“We were glad to get outdoors to enjoy some rather nice weather in December,” he said. “People take for granted how quickly each little piece of litter accumulates and takes away from the beauty of nature while also contaminating the environment. It was disheartening to see the overwhelming accumulation of garbage in such a relatively short distance.”
Jay said he and his family have always enjoyed the Will County preserves and he appreciates youth activities offered by the Forest Preserve and coordinated by staff.
“My kids have also had the opportunity to camp, hike and develop orienteering skills, help at fishing derbies and even participate in eradicating invasive vegetation at forest preserve sites through the Forest Preserve’s partnerships with Scouting.”
Jason Stevenson, the Forest Preserve's concessions manager at Monee Reservoir, said the Farquhar family's assistance and dedication to nature is appreciated.
"The Farquhar family has always been curious and active in our preserves and facilities as a family and as Scouts," Stevenson said. "I do like the fact that the Boy Scouts of America has these types of programs available for youth. It is great to see more and more Scouts and youth in general utilizing the forest preserves to accomplish their goals for these types of badges and programs."
And Jay Farquhar said he is happy that the Scouts are instilling a "leave no trace" ethic in his children.
“Scouting helps establish a mindset of being conservation minded,” he said. “Being involved in service programs like this is twofold: it remediates a current issue but also conditions the participants to be more conscientious and even ambassadors of the cause.”
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