Conservation Cup co-chair devoted
to sharing ‘Forest Preserve experience’

At the 2015 Conservation Cup, left to right: Jackie Loewe, Ewa Weir, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, Claire Williams

A memorial for a mother who loved spending time in Forest Preserve 

Smiths

Members of the Foundation’s Young Professionals Association (YPA) and their guests spent a fun June 4 afternoon kayaking and canoeing on the Little Calumet River in Kickapoo Woods. The event included a nature walk and land instruction before everyone pushed off from the Kickapoo Meadows Access point and spent about an hour paddling.

     A light rain left the riverbank quite muddy but that didn’t dampen spirits. Everyone just cleaned themselves off before heading to the picnic shelter for socializing and refreshments. Vice District Brewing provided beer.

     For new YPA member Julie White, this was her first event. “It was so much fun,” she said after getting the mud off her shoes and relaxing with the friends she had brought along. “My friends had a great time, and I’m sure they’ll be joining more YPA events in the future.” 

     The event was well attended and raised nearly $500 to support the Foundation’s work. 

     The next YPA event takes place on Public Lands Day, Sept. 24 at Camp Sullivan. If you are interested in helping to plan the Fall event, please message us at info@forestpreservefoundation.org.  

YPA members and friends have a muddy good time at kayaking event

The Forest Preserve Foundation seeks resources to carry out the meaningful work it does. Your donation will support the Youth Conservation Corps summer job program that provides teens with employment experience, science education, and a self-esteem enriching experience.

     Jackie Loewe, Conservation Cup co-chair, is looking forward to the Sept. 15 golf outing with the same enthusiasm she always does.  She’s taken on the job for three years in a row, and the mission still excites her because she knows the funds raised will help others enjoy the outdoors as much as she does.

     The full-day event at the premier 18-hole George W. Dunne National Golf Course in Oak Forest, Ill., mixes networking and golfing with lunch and an evening reception followed by dinner. Ninety percent of funds raised go directly back into the Foundation’s grants that support family and youth camping experiences, internships for youth via the Conservation Corps and memorial gifts to honor loved ones.

     An avid outdoors person—though she freely admits she’s not that good at golf herself—Loewe relishes spending the day with business colleagues and friends on “one of the top public courses in the country,” she says. “The biggest draw for the event is the golf course itself. Whether you’re an avid golfer, it’s a place that you’d definitely want to check off on your bucket list of places that you actually got the opportunity to play.”

     Of course, “the other piece” is the Forest Preserve Foundation’s mission, “which is to reach out to people who may not even realize what the Forest Preserves have to offer, in terms of opportunities for families,” she says. And that is what makes the Conservation Cup so special and why Loewe invests so much time and energy into making it a success.
     This year’s fundraising goal is $175,000. “Through funds we raise, we reach out to communities to help them feel more welcome, provide transportation, to actually help them have a Forest Preserve experience.”

     Conservation Cup sponsorships and dinner packages are available, ranging from $1,000 Program Sponsors to $25,000 Premier Sponsors. For more details or to get involved, contact Shelley Davis at 312.603.8349 or email shelley.davis@forestpreservefoundation.org.​​

Summer 2016 News

     When she was a child, Pat Smith’s mother took her on many walks through the Deer Grove Forest Preserve in Palatine.

     “She loved the area,” says Smith, remembering her late mother Vietta Mickus, who lived in Palatine all of her life. “It was her back yard. She knew it like the back of her hand.”

     A homemaker who was eagerly served her community over the years, Mickus died in March 2015, a few weeks before her 95th birthday.

     Wanting a special way to memorialize Mickus, Smith’s daughter Carrie, who lives in California, contacted the Forest Preserve Foundation about its tree donation program. The family decided to have a tree planted in the Deer Grove Forest Preserve. Located in northwestern Cook County, Deer Grove is on land first acquired by the Forest Preserve District in 1916.

     Smith also recalls another shared activity with her mother in the area. “Every Mother’s Day, we would take hike through Deer Grove to look at the wild flowers,” she says.

     “A tree was such a perfect memorial because my mother was born in Deer Grove. Her father was the original caretaker of Deer Grove and built the caretaker house, and that is the house where mom was born. She would be very happy that we’ve added to the forest preserve,” Smith says.

     The family selected a basswood tree because of its heart-shaped leaves. Basswoods, also known as the American linden tree, have a dense canopy and large, sturdy trunk and summer flowers with a pleasing fragrance that is irresistible to butterflies and bees. They tend to live about 150 years.

     On Arbor Day in April, the Foundation recognized the Smiths and their donation. Pet and her husband were invited to tell their story, and they helped kids plant trees at the Clayton F. Smith Preserves, often simply called “Bunker Hill.”

     When summer comes, Smith and her own daughter will “ride our bikes over to visit the tree.” 

     “It’s wonderful that the Foundation makes this possible,” Smith says.

     If you want more information on dedicating a tree in the Forest Preserves, please call 312-603-8349.