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Season of Events
Fall has been a busy event season for the Foundation. The 4th annual Conservation Cup Golf Benefit at George W. Dunne National Golf Course brought together leaders in our community to raise nearly $168,000 in support of Foundation programs - and for a gorgeous day of golf, dinner and inspiration.
The Foundation's Young Professionals Association hosted its second annual Oktoberfest in the Woods event, as part of the Forest Preserves' centennial birthday celebration, 100 Years, 100 Events.' It was another lovely event day as Oktoberfest guests enjoyed beer provided by Vice Brewing Company, a nature walk, and bonfire surrounded by the beauty of Thatcher Woods.
A most sincere thanks to everyone who joins us and makes our events so wonderful. You continually inspire us to grow.
Forest Preserve Foundation
Fall has been a season of growth at the Foundation!
Read below to learn more about the Foundation's impact on our communities through programs and events.
In the spotlight this season is Jackie Loewe, a dedicated leader on the Foundation Board of Directors since 2013. Jackie has been instrumental in shaping the growth of the Foundation by building community relationships and guiding its strategic planning process. Jackie also co-chairs the Conservation Cup Host Committee, which led the efforts to raise $168,000 at this year's event. Thanks for all you do, Jackie!
Chicago Teens Enjoy their First Camping Experience
Mujeres Latinas en Accion's Proyecto Juventud teen youth program participated in its first program-wide overnight camping trip at Camp Sullivan in Oak Forest this summer. Supported by Forest Preserve Foundation grants, 49 teens and their mentors experienced the joys (and hardships) of camping, many for their first time - 78% of the teens had never been camping before. "The program offered a new kind of experience that many teens were excited to participate in. Disconnected from any technnology...teens gained hands-on experience setting up their own tents, preparing their own meals, hiking, playing community building and outdoor recreational activities, stargazing, and a night campfire," says Maritza Rocha, Director of Youth Programs.
With support from the Foundation, the group's leaders went through an overnight training experience to learn the in's and out's of camping -- and of guiding a youth group through its own experience.
"I met and learned alongside phenomenal youth leaders from all throughout Chicago as part of the CLIC group. This experience made camping with my youth team and teens enjoyable, adventurous, and unforgettable since I was able to rely on the knowledge I had gained through my training," says Judy Idrovo.
This year the Foundation granted $100,000 to the Forest Preserves of Cook County's first year of public camping opportunities at its newly created or redesigned sites across the County. Specifically, the Foundation directed its support to make the joys of camping accessible to those who have never tried it before - through gear rental, skills training, and guided campground activities.
Teens with Mujeres Latinas en Accion enjoyed a full day and night outside at Camp Sullivan.
Save the Date!
The 5th Annual Conservation Cup will take place on September 15, 2016. Don't miss it!
In the Spotlight
High School Interns Earn More than a Paycheck in the Preserves
This year, the Forest Preserve Foundation supported the Student Conservation Association's 'Chicago Conservation Leadership Corps' Program with a $70,000 grant. This program runs in partnership with the Forest Preserves of Cook County and Friends of the Forest Preserves. The goal is to accomplish habitat restoration goals while providing teens with employment experience, science education, and a self-esteem enriching summer. "This experience has changed my life in a way, by helping me figure out what I want to do with my life," said Nathan Taylor, who will now double major in Illustration and Wildlife biology.
The overall program supported 61 interns and 12 crew leaders this summer. Their accomplishments included removing almost 5 acres of invasive plants, improving 5 miles of trails and maintaining the gardens located at the preserves' nature centers. The exposure to hard work, opportunities for job and careers in conservation, special certifications such as chainsaw handling, and the deep bonds formed among crew members impacts the teens even more.
"You get to become one with nature in this job. I always liked it when the sun hit the leaves. Now I know what type of leaf it is," says Tamia, a 15 year old crew member.
What motivates you to be so actively engaged in the Forest Preserve Foundation, both with your volunteer leadership and financial contributions?
JL: The mission of the Foundation to provide programming and access for youth and families is important because conservation will have deeper meaning and play a more important part in their life’s work. I feel it is critical for kids to have opportunities for both structured and unstructured play outside, and the forest preserves offer just that. I don’t think I would value nature as much if I didn’t grow up camping, canoeing and playing outside.
We have this incredible, unique gift in our midst – 69,000 acres- and a lot of people don’t know about it. We need to create awareness and access for everyone to experience all the wonders of the preserves.
What makes the Conservation Cup more successful each year?
JL: The Conservation Cup gives members of the business community a great chance to collaborate, network and enjoy one of the gems of the Forest Preserves – the George Dunne Golf Course – all at the same time. The Conservation Cup is a great vehicle to create awareness about the Forest Preserves while having a great time.
What is your favorite activity in the preserves?
JL: I love cycling, and get out on the forest preserve bike trails as frequently as I can! It is a great way to see the preserves on a deeper level and from a different perspective than most.
Jackie is President and CEO at Sheridan Park Consulting. She invites you to join her for the Conservation Cup on September 15, 2016!
Foundation Executive Director and Board Chair (2nd row, middle) visit the Conservation Crew at Dan Ryan Woods.