Environmental Education

Donors inspire the next generation of conservationist by supporting District-hosted  ecological training and environmental education opportunities for children and adults. Together with partners, the McHenry County Conservation Foundation has worked to provide environmental education opportunities across Chicagoland, including

shorteared owlShort-eared Owl Aviary
The District’s permanent resident short-eared owl (IL endangered species) received a new aviary specifically for her. Previously she was housed in a cage built for rehabilitating smaller bird species. The Foundation committed $4.8K toward the new owl space that freed up the larger aviary for its intended use. The short-eared owl has visited schools and seen thousands of people throughout the county as a part of the Wildlife Resource Center’s educational programming and is an integral part of wildlife programs.  The new aviary was made possible by contributions to the Tap into Your Wild Side live and silent auction fundraising event.

Glacial Park Bog Pier Ecosystem Study Pier for Glacial Park Bog
The Conservation District's Education Services Department needed a safe educational access to the waters and plants of the Glacial Park bog where a former boardwalk existed.  The Foundation was able to commit $20K to the project that provides access to the bog  during the popular school field study, where students compares water samples from the bog and the kettle marsh as part of its investigations. This field study is aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards.  The pier was made possible by contributions to the Tap into Your Wild Side live and silent auction fundraising event.

Kayaking at The Hollows Empowering Youth Through Programming

Youth and Family Center of McHenry approached McHenry County Conservation Foundation in the summer of 2019 with a funding request to cover the cost of transporting people to a District-hosted program in Cary. With the cost of bus rental covered, forty children and adults from Youth and Family Services braved the 110-degree heat to make it out to The Hollows on July 1 for a family-oriented canoeing and fishing program on Lake Atwood. 
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camp group in waterFoundation Offers Summer Camp Financial Assistance
Each year McHenry County Conservation Foundation provides an opportunity for McHenry County residents to apply for financial assistance for up to two children in a household to attend one of the Conservation District's summer day camps. Application forms can be found on the District’s website at MCCD.me/SummerCamps.

McHenry County Regional Office of Education, Environmental Education Program - Teacher Restoration Program

Funds were awarded to 25 individual teachers from around the county for a course in restoration ecology. Funding provided the group study materials and an opportunity to gather first-hand experience in analyzing site-specific data on ecological damage and remedial action.  

Woodstock High School - Illinois Rivers Project Training
This project provided river monitoring training, educational materials and testing supplies to 20 teachers from the Woodstock School District. Teachers were exposed to the biodiversity of local stream ecosystems and helped them better understand the dynamic nature of aquatic systems and how they are impacted by human activities.  

Friends of the Fox River - Fox River Watershed Curriculum
Financial support enabled the Friends to conduct two workshops for teachers, providing a unique educational opportunity for thirteen teachers and providing them with newly developed curriculum materials specific to the Fox River. From just these three projects, 58 teachers have been trained.  With a ripple effect, these teachers were able to educate their students, reaching approximately 1,450 students in the first year alone. 

Chicago Wilderness - Steps to Sustainability: Mighty Acorns
The goal of this program was to introduce young people to nature through stewardship and exploration programs. The program offered assistance to schools and teachers interested in involving their students in land stewardship. Mighty Acorns empowered 20 Chicago Wilderness partners to work with over 250 volunteers who in turn provided education and stewardship opportunities to over 8,000 school children and 78 schools throughout the six collar counties of Chicago and Northwestern Indiana. They provided curriculum on wetland values and functions, assisted with website development, and hosted a summer nature camp. As a result, of this program, there was an increased public awareness and understanding of our region’s biodiversity: and hopefully greater support of our natural resource values.

Girl Scouts - Sybaquay Council –Educational Wetland Monitoring
This grant helped purchase materials to assist the Girl Scouts in initiating a wetland monitoring project at the Mary Ann Beebe Center near Woodstock.  Performing soil and water testing at the site, and monitoring changes in species composition as the site is restored, the Girl Scouts have had hands-on opportunities to learn about wetland plant species, wetland management techniques, and the diversity of the wetland ecosystem.

McHenry County College –Construction of a Living Butterfly Exhibit
Funding helped with development of a living butterfly exhibit at McHenry County College. The exhibit is open to the public, school groups, and special interest groups.  Native butterfly species such as the Buckeye and Pearl Crescent have been reared in the exhibit for scientific study and viewing.  The display and propagation of additional butterfly species is anticipated, as techniques for rearing are refined.  Volunteers from throughout the community are being trained as butterfly monitors through this exciting educational project, allowing skills learned here to be used in monitoring natural areas throughout the county.